So you’re thinking about shared housing, you know about the benefits, an now you’re wondering, “How do I find a good housemate?” It’s all about the selection process. There are certain steps you can take to help ensure you find the best living situation for you. If you follow a thorough selection process to determine compatibility, you can turn your housemate into a true home-mate.
What’s Important in Finding a Good Housemate
Living in shared housing is different from living with family or in a relationship. It’s a choice to band together to maintain a roof over one’s head. Some do it to save money, others to have a companion, and some do it just to have someone else to help water the plants. But if you settle for the first person who seems to satisfy that need, you might end up in an unhappy living situation. We’ve heard people reflecting after they’ve had a bad experience, “She seemed nice enough,” “He was well-spoken and gentle,” or “We were friends and we both needed a place to live.” None of these people took the time to consider if their potential home-mate was really a good fit for them. They didn’t use a good selection process.
It’s About Compatible Living
The key to finding a good housemate is determining if you use your home in compatible ways. Everyone has a unique way of living! We all have preferences around cleanliness, routines, pets, kitchen use, and many other things. When you share a home you have to account for everyone’s preferences. While it’s important to make compromises, if you are asked to compromise on something really important to you then you might end up unhappy. On the other hand, if you find someone who lives in a way that you’re comfortable with, you won’t need to make big compromises.
That’s why it’s important to know what you need when looking for a housemate. After you’ve determined what you need in a home, you have to make sure your housemate has compatible needs before they move in. You need to talk to your potential home-mate, and judge if they’re a good fit! That’s why it’s important to have a thorough selection process. The best potential home-mate is someone who shares your most important preferences, is willing to compromise on smaller issues, and brings something new and beneficial into your home.
How to Find a Good Housemate: Our Selection Process
We have a lot to say about how to find a good housemate. If you want to learn absolutely everything you can about finding and keeping good housemates check out our amazing guidebook! Or you could also take our course, Sharing Housing 101. For now, let’s break down the basics.There are six main steps to selecting a good housemate:
- Know Your Needs – Figure out your “Must-Haves” and “Can’t-Live-Withs”
- Announcement – Spread the word through your network, online platforms, and publications.
- First Contact – Send a message. Reach out or reply to a candidate.
- Second Contact – Make a phone call. Preliminary evaluation. Do your needs match?
- Third Contact – In-Person Interview. Meet face to face to assess compatibility and fit.
- Evaluate – Check references and decide.
The first step of figuring out what you need is so important that we have another useful article about how to know yourself and your needs. The second step involves writing up the announcement so that others can find you. When you write the announcement you should tell the reader about the house, what your “Must-Haves” and “Can’t-Live-Withs” are, something about yourself, what you are looking for in a housemate, and the financial arrangement. We have a worksheet on planning your announcement that can help you get started. You could make a post on social media, publish an announcement, or use one of many housemate finder websites. However, we always recommend spreading the word through your own network of friends and family first.
Talking to Potential Housemates
When your announcement attracts interest you move to the third step. When someone replies to your announcement (or you reply to theirs), that’s the first contact. The second contact should be a phone call. In this conversation you want to feel out the other person. Do you like the conversation? Does the person feel good to you? You should ask questions about what the person is looking for and why they are looking, and see whether your basic needs match. If not, you can easily stop the process right there. If you’re interested after the phone call, plan a time to meet in person and see the space that you would share. This is what we refer to as third contact, your chance to interview your potential home-mate and assess if you are compatible enough to live together.
Always Check References!
If that conversation feels good, then the last step is to check references. Don’t skip this step! Talk to two people who know your potential home-mate. Some people worry that references are always going to say nice things. While that may be true, it is your task to judge how good of a reference you’ve been given.
Every round of contact is a chance to say “No, this isn’t the right fit,” and that’s ok! If a housemate fit isn’t right, there’s no reason to continue interviewing that person. But if you’ve followed this process and your future home-mate checks out, you can be confident in your plan to move forward.
Using the Interview Guide
Knowing what to ask in your in-person interview can feel daunting. It’s so easy to overlook something important! You might not think to ask about their morning routines, and then you end up fighting over the shower and waiting in line to make toast everyday. That’s why we created an interview guide to make sure you know everything you need to know about your potential home-mate.
In the interview guide there is a short multiple-choice questionnaire. Before you’ve begun your search, you can use the questions in the interview guide to help you assess what is really important to you in how you live. Always remember, choosing a good housemate is about being clear about your own needs, wants, and preferences! When you have your interview, ask your potential home-mate to complete the questionnaire as well. The real power of the guide comes from comparing your answers with those of your potential home-mate. But don’t be afraid if your answers don’t match! These questions are conversation starters. It’s ok if you don’t have the same answer, what’s important is that you start a discussion about your needs.
Trust The Universe
The selection process may seem long and difficult, but we believe there is a match out there for everyone. If you do the work, be honest with yourself, and open your heart, you can find a true home-mate (or two) that brings something new and wonderful into your life. Don’t be afraid of the process, be excited by the possibilities, and good luck finding a good housemate!