In a post on the Jezebel site, “Social Minefield: Avoiding Roommate Drama” offered very good advice about how to manage roommates. Author Anna North writes about the importance of compatibility, being business-like, speaking up and talking through any issues that arise. All of it is good. We agree that it’s important to know your needs and communicate them clearly.
Oh, but the comments! So many people with so many horrible, nightmare stories. If that’s all you read, it might give you serious doubts about the wisdom of sharing housing. The question of course is how the nightmare situations got that way. Can the sufferers even remember when the issue was minor? Did it come with the person? Or did it develop in the home? Do they know how they have contributed to the bad situation?
Avoid The Nightmare
Most bad situations can be avoided by interviewing and selecting housemates with care. We recommend follow a methodical selection process to ensure you find the right housemate fit. Housemates have to have clarity and agreement on how the space is to be used. And then they have to live up to those agreements. Problems show up when there wasn’t agreement or when a housemate welshes on their agreement.
Many, many housemates live very comfortably together for long periods of time. The long periods of peace are unmemorable and don’t get told as stories. The bad stories are the ones that are told. It’s like driving for thousands of miles without an incident, but telling the story of the flat tire.
July 2016: This post was written six years ago (!!) Since then we have developed and offer the an interviewing guide we call “What to Talk about When Interviewing. It’s a tool that will help anyone who is seriously invested in finding a compatible housemate.
Here’s a related post: How to Deal With the #1 Roommate Hassle.