Moving out or moving on from your current living situation? Step one: find a housemate. This can be a challenging process, and it’s important to take it seriously so that you don’t wind up living with someone you can’t stand.
Here are ten tips on where to look for potential roomies, and what to consider when making your decision. In no time at all you’ll be painting each other’s nails and sharing beers – or just cohabitating peacefully.
Consider your friends
The first place to turn in your search for housemates is your current mates! Friends, unlike family, are handpicked – meaning chances are you already like and get along with them. Think about who you are compatible with, who shares your likes and interests, and who you can be most honest with if there’s ever any issues.
Living with friends can be challenging – you sometimes care too much about them to confront them when things go pear-shaped. You need to be confident and comfortable in your relationship to be able to tell them when something is just not on, and be able to take it if they do the same for you. If you know your friend is messy, lazy and can’t cook to save their life, perhaps they aren’t your ideal living companion if you are their polar opposite. Many friendships are ruined by living together, so choose wisely.
Friends of friends
While bunking with your closest friends might not be your best bet, there’s no reason you can’t share a home with their friends. Your friends have good taste – they picked you! – so trust in their other friendship choices and ask around for recommendations of flatmates. You never know, you might just find a lifelong friend in them.
Friends or not friends, the decision to live with someone should not be taken lightly. It’s important to sit down and chat to the potential roommate to discuss your expectations and requirements, and to gauge who they are as a person and whether or not you will be compatible. Some questions you might like to ask include:
- Why do you want to live here?
- Have you lived in a sharehouse before?
- Did anything about past flatmates bother you?
- What furniture do you currently have?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have pets?
- What are your cleaning habits?
- What are your work hours?
- Do you like to entertain?
- Do you prefer to cook or get takeout?
Awkward conversation time
Now we don’t mean the birds and the bees. It’s another uncomfortable but highly necessary chat: the money talk. You need to know how your future flatmate will make up their share of the rent and bills. Think about all of the expenses involved in a home, and how those costs will look when divided between two, three or four people. Do you want to split bills evenly? Do you want to share the cost of groceries or buy and make your own food? How will you deal with other ad hoc expenses like broken light globes and plumbing issues? It’s important to have this chat now before you make any commitments and find yourself in strife later on.
What kind of person are they? If you are a party animal, your best housemate match probably isn’t someone who likes to keep weekends low key or someone who needs peace and quiet to study. If your housemate is someone who is going to host events on a regular basis, that is something you want to be aware of ahead of time or risk coming home in a bad mood to find your house full of strangers dancing on your coffee table.
Aside from party guests, your initial meeting is a good time to ask about other house guests. Does your potential flatmate have a partner who will be staying over frequently? Do they often have family members in town who will need a spare piece of floor to sleep on? You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where your house is overcrowded with friends and relatives who are hogging the TV remote and using up all the hot water – unless you’re up for it in which case, the more the merrier!
Yeah it’s boring and it feels very job interview-y, but it’s important to get at very least a character reference when moving in with someone you don’t know. If it’s a friend of a friend it’s easy, just have a quick chat with your mutual pal. If it’s a stranger you have advertised for, politely ask them for contact details of former roommates or landlords, so that you can get an impression of what they are like to live with before you make any decisions.
Don’t rush the rental process
Don’t put yourself under pressure to make a decision too quickly. Rushing in and agreeing too soon can result in major regrets down the track, when it’s too late and you’re tied to a 12-month lease living with someone you can’t stand. Take your time, do your research, and make sure you are fully comfortable with your decision before moving forward.
Get it in writing
If both parties are happy, congratulations – you’ve got yourself a roomie! But before you get all excited about decorating your cool new pad, get some sort of agreement in writing around the terms of your lease, end of lease expectations, and any implications for an early termination. Keep it simple but be clear. Good luck!
The best way to find a housemate is by understanding what you’re like to live with. Are you a clean and tidy person? Do you like quiet time? Do you like to be social and have big parties? Like any relationship, a little soul searching can help know who you are and how you like to like. Then all you need to do is find a housemate to match!