The Move!

Adam successfully moved out of home in April!

Ad was very excited about the move and as prepared as he could be (after about 3 years of planning and talking with him about it extensively).

The first few days were a little tough as Adam adjusted to his new home and struggled with some homesickness, but he then very quickly settled in – he loves his new home and his housemates and has been so happy to be there. He really seems to have matured and even his communication has improved. In fact his parents have had a much harder time adjusting!

THE PROCESS

1. Find a house

This was not as hard as we thought it might be and only took about a month once we started searching in earnest. Adam’s parents, sisters, and some supports were primarily involved in the process of trawling Domain.com and visiting open houses before we found a lovely big 4 bedroom house in Bondi Junction – perfectly situated near Adam’s family and close to shops and public transport. The agent and landlord were fine with our unique situation and accommodated several of our requests to make the house more suitable!

2. Find housemates

Once we started looking for a house the Housemates Group met up and jumped into action. We set up a WhatsApp Housemates Group so we could stay in touch and coordinate progress/meetings etc. We then edited/refined and posted the housemates ad on a number of online platforms:

  • Flatmates.com.au
  • Gumtree
  • Facebook (sharing through friends/networks and various Facebook groups)
  • UNSW Off Campus Accommodation
  • Jewish Living

Adam’s Lifestyle Coordinator (who is in the Housemates Group) was the main contact for potentials and also coordinated meeting times.

We had A LOT of interest (5-10 people contacting us per day – mainly from Flatmates and Gumtree) and our process was:

  1. After first contact we provided further detailed information about the arrangement and expectations.
  2. We asked people to provide information about themselves, their hobbies/interests, work/study patterns, and why they were interested in the opportunity.
  3. If we liked the sound of someone then 2 people (at least) from the Housemates Group met with them either at a cafe or at the house.
  4. If we were both still interested in each other then the potential would meet Adam and his parents for further detail/screening and ultimate all-important Adam approval!
  5. If still going well the potential housemate would then do a buddy shift with Adam and one of his supporters.
  6. All still going well the potential would sign the Housemate Agreement we developed and move in.

We held a Housemate Induction Session once we had all the housemates, which ran for a few hours one Saturday and was an opportunity for the housemates to get to know one another, ask questions, sort through processes and learn more about Adam.

LESSONS IN HOUSEMATE HUNTING

  • Finding housemates was/is a very time consuming and multi-faceted process – involving reading/responding to lots of enquiries, coordinating times to meet people etc etc…
  • It’s much easier to find housemates when you actually have a house (and a lovely one at that…)
  • We had to edit the ad a few times to find the right balance between offering enough information/detail and not overwhelming people with information.
  • We learnt to be clear enough about expectations and responsibilities early on so as to filter out people who were just after cheap rent (of whom there were many).
  • We were very open initially to housemates living here temporarily from overseas but came to realise that in terms of stability it was better to have people in Sydney for the long-term. This isn’t a hard and fast rule for us, but is certainly an ideal.
  • Be prepared for people pulling out/moving out! We had several people on the point of moving in who pulled out at the last minute, and one for moved home to Italy with one day’s notice! Make sure there is a contingency/finance to cover such eventualities.

THE MODEL

Adam has 3 housemates – one who is a long-term friend and supporter who was also moving out of home for the first time. We were always clear that we wanted housemates rather than ‘carers’, although housemates would still need to support Adam to an extent:

  • Each housemate has 2 nights per week (8pm-9:30am) in which they support Adam and keep an ear out (Adam stays with his family one night per week).
  • If Adam has trouble sleeping and consequently the housemate has disrupted sleep (awake more than 1 hour after midnight), then the housemate doesn’t do their second night that week. We felt this was important in terms of sustainability.
  • We have 2 core ‘Nights with Adam’ people and a list of friends and supporters we can call on in such cases.
  • Housemates support Adam with going to sleep and they have breakfast together in the morning.

We also wanted the house to be very much a home – there are often friends and family over for dinner or just a visit so Adam is meeting a range of new people.