As rents in Australia's capital cities climb, Queenslanders Stella-Rae Burns, 18, and Halle Matthews, 19, have taken a novel twist on share housing.
Since moving form Cairns to Melbourne, the best mates have chosen to share a room - and even a bed.
They are part of a demographic of young people grappling with the pressures of rental stress and lifestyle costs, who are compromising on personal space - and possibly some security - for an affordable place to call home.
"We sleep together, eat together, get dressed together. There's not really any kind of privacy but if you're close enough I don't think it really matters. It's like two sisters sharing a room but we share a bed as well," says Matthews.
The 1980's weatherboard they share with two other housemates (who have their own bedrooms), is quaint. There is one bathroom, one kitchen and an enormous backyard complete with a veggie garden and abundant native flowers.
"I can't really say sharing a room with Halle is really any different to when I had my own. I guess because we like the same things and style it makes it easy. Also because we both work so much we don't really see each other, so we still get the personal space you would get with having your own room," says Burns.
While it might not seem like such a bad idea bunkering down with your best mate, not all renters have pleasant experiences living in such close quarters.
Anna Squadrito lives in a CBD apartment in Melbourne with three housemates. She moved to Australia in 2016 from Sicily when she was 27 years old to further her culinary studies and seek what she describes as better life for herself.
"I've always shared a room in Melbourne in a separate bed because I need money to pay for school and have a good life. It's necessary for me to save money," she says. Under her student visa she is only permitted to work 20 hours a week.
For Squadrito, and many international students in similar situations, a shared room is the only feasible option when living in a central location in super-costly Sydney or Melbourne within her financial means.
"I love this area. I can go to work with the bicycle, I have the free tram zone in two stops. I love Melbourne, I fell in love before I came here and after three years I still love this city," she says.
While Anna finally feels at home in her new CBD apartment, she doesn't hold fond memories of her living arrangements when she first moved to Australia.
She says she's experienced every kind of horror housemate imaginable with accounts of extreme uncleanliness, roommates stealing her money and food and even residents inconsiderately inviting unwelcome guests to the space. So what were the pros?
"I don't have any pros, sorry. Because you are sharing your life with another person. I've had many bad experiences. Maybe [if] you talk with someone 10 years younger than me they may have another opinion, but at 30 years old with a student visa, a share room is just for survival and trying to find the best future for myself, here at 17,000km from my home country," she says.
While there are legal and ethical limitations to shared living, it is still difficult to understand their parameters.
Because no official statistics of partitioned or shared living exists, it is difficult to gauge just how many people are sharing and what the conditions are.
Gumtree, Facebook groups, Weibo and Market Place were among the main social platforms used to advertise unregistered, dormitory-style living.
Luxurious apartments like Anna's and homes similar to Halle and Stella-Rae's deliver hundreds of unofficial shared room sub-let results. It is a trend that, though difficult to quantify, appears to be gathering speed.
- SMH/The Age