There are definite perks to finding a housemate: cheaper rent, cheaper utilities, and ideally—someone fun to unwind with on Friday nights. But, how do we go about finding the perfect one? Sometimes, that can be tricky.
The interview process for your new housemate can tell you a lot about a person, but sometimes – even after asking all of your questions, and doing a thorough Facebook stalk – small things can fall through the cracks. You could end up with someone who is a night-owl to your early bird, someone who has just lost their job and won’t be able to pay the next month of rent, or someone who just won’t pull their weight with household chores.
How do you weed out the bad and avoid these stickier situations? We’ve got a few foolproof questions that could tell you all you need to know.
Ideally, your new housemate would have a stable job, or income of some kind that would allow them to pay rent. Ask them if they have emergency savings in case something may come up. Ask them what hours they work, and what time they might come home in the evening—will you be asleep? Will they respect that?
Do they smoke? Do they drink heavily? Do they host a few too many parties? All of these could be pertinent to how your home ends up looking, and especially important if they clash with your way of life. It’s important to find a good balance that works for both of you.
If they say ‘it’s not a big deal’, then that might be a red flag. No one likes a messy home, and an ideal housemate will pull their own weight, clean up after themselves, and take responsibility for their own messes without complaint. Cleanliness can often be the source of many housemate feuds, open communication about this is essential.
This is important to square-away long before feelings become hurt. Some people only seek out housemates to halve their rent, others do it in the hopes of building relationships. Do they just want to grunt a quiet ‘hello’ in the morning, or are they keen for Friday night drinks, or Saturday night movies?
Introverts and extroverts can live together in complete harmony, but only as long as they can respect one another’s space. It’s important for all relationships to have a certain amount of distance every now and again, and living with someone permanently can cause plenty of tension. Encourage open communication about this, too, and it could mean smooth sailing for you and your potential new housemate.
You may not like cats, but your potential housemate might just want to bring theirs along for the ride. Ensure that (if pets are involved) their owners are prepared to take responsibility for caring, and cleaning up after their fluffy friends, you don’t want to get saddled with the weight of a pet you don’t even own!
If they start to tell you horror story after horror story that invariably leave them looking like the faultless one every time, this is a red flag. While it’s possible to have a few bad eggs, it seems unlikely that they’re always the good guy. If they’re still on good terms with their previous housemate, that’s an excellent sign (maybe call them as a reference?), and if they’ve never had a housemate before, it might still be something to consider. Living with someone new can take a great deal of adjusting, especially for the first time.
Do they have a girlfriend or boyfriend? Will said partner be over often? Will they be willing to help with chores and keeping things tidy when they’re present, as well as respecting you in the process? Three people under one roof is certainly doable, but depending on the place, it could make for a tight fit, its best to be aware of this now if it could be an issue later.
Often, dietary preferences prevent things like food from being shared, but communal things such as toothpaste, tissues, toilet paper, shampoo or conditioner could easily be shared. Do they prefer to keep their belongings separate from yours, or are they keen to share it around?
It’s good to be prepared for when you might be left on the hunt for another housemate, you don’t want to be forking out for rent you can’t quite afford on your own. Having a relative heads up will allow you to find someone else in time, and offer a helping hand to your old roommate on the big day. This will also give you an estimate on whether or not this living situation will be short, or long term.
Don’t forget to always check up on references, and above all—make sure you and your potential housemate get along. If you’re going to be living together, you might as well make double sure it’s going to be fun!