Sometimes a new housemate works out great and sometimes it’s a total disaster. So what’s the secret to finding a good housemate? It’s to Know Yourself. The most important step in the housemate selection process is taking the time to understand who you are and how you live at home. Do this part well, and you’ll reap all the benefits of a good shared home!
The Overlooked Step
The worst case scenario is moving in with people who turn out to be a bad fit. We once talked to someone who lasted six months in a group house. She loved the location, her room, most of the other people, but she hates having dirty dishes in the sink. When she interviewed to live there she noticed the dirty dishes and thought “I can live with it.” Turns out she couldn’t. And when she wanted to impose her needs on the household, the others resisted and they were at odds. How much better if she had known herself and realized that dirty dishes were a “can’t live with.” Another example: two friends bought a house together. After they moved in they realized that one of them likes background noise, while the other can’t stand it. Neither one of them realized that noise in the house would be important to them.
In both scenarios the problems could have been avoided. This is why it’s so important to figure out how you live and what you need in a home BEFORE you start looking for a housemate. People often skip this step and jump into the housemate search. We always recommend that before you start looking, you sit down and really think about yourself, your home, and what works best for you.
Save Time and Avoid Disasters
Taking the time to figure out your needs will save you time and energy during your housemate search. Interviewing your potential home-mate is a critical step in the process, but it can be discouraging talking to an endless array of candidates who aren’t the right fit. If you’re clear about what you need in a housemate, you won’t need to agonize over whether someone is good for you. Cross them off your list if they aren’t compatible and move on. If you know what you’re looking for, you can be specific and thorough in your initial search and eliminate potential candidates before wasting your time with an interview. The more people you can say “No” to immediately, the easier your search will be. Never be afraid to say “no” to someone who isn’t the right fit!
The number one reason to take the time to know yourself is to avoid housemate disasters. The friends who bought a house together found a solution to their problem, but dirty dishes lady just had to move out. Sometimes there’s no way to compromise. Sometimes two people move in together and realize that one person absolutely Must Have something that other person absolutely Can’t Live With. Then there’s no choice but to move or stay trapped in a bad living situation. Living with an incompatible housemate can be a regrettable experience. Avoid the regret by figuring out what works ahead of time, and being thorough in your housemate selection process.
How to Know Yourself and Your Needs
So the secret to finding a good housemate is to Know Yourself, but how do you do that? Most people have never sat down and asked themselves “What do I need in a home?” We have a few methods to help get you started and ensure that you thoroughly assess what makes your home comfortable and livable.
1. Imagine the Worst Case Scenario
If you don’t know where to start, think about the absolutely worst case scenario. What would be the housemate from hell, what house could you absolutely not live in. This will help you make a list of situations to avoid, and will get you thinking about your Can’t Live With’s.
2. List Your “Must Haves” and “Can’t Live Withs”
This is our favorite way to talk about living needs, and a great tool for determining compatibility with a housemate. Think about what is most important to you in your home and daily life. Those things that you absolutely need in your life are your Must Haves. It could be a spacious kitchen or a few hours of alone time. Then think about what would ruin your home and make it unliveable, like too many houseguests or a pet you’re allergic to. You’re Must Haves and Can’t Live Withs are those aspects of your living situation you can’t compromise. Make a list, or try our Must Have Worksheet, (in the worksheets) and use it to discuss compatibility with your potential housemate.
3. Try Our Free Daily Living Worksheet
If you’re having trouble thinking about what’s important in your home, you could try our free Daily Living Worksheet. This exercise encourages you to think about your current or previous living situation, and use your experience to determine what you’re looking for moving forward. It breaks up your living experience into a number of helpful categories, like Tasks or even Temperature, to help you consider things you might not have thought of on your own.
4. Use Our Interviewing Guide
A good resource for thoroughly assessing your needs is in our Interviewing Guide. Our interview guide is designed to be completed by both parties, so that you can compare answers and start a conversation about living together. You can also use the interview questions to help you get to know yourself! The guide will walk you through all the most important aspects of a shared living situation, and prepare you to talk about your needs with a potential housemate.
5. Ask Your Friends
Still stuck? Unsure about what you really need? Try asking your friends about how you live! Sometimes it’s easier to have an outside perspective. If you’ve ever had a housemate before, ask them too. You might gain some valuable insights into the way you live, and what’s important to you
Take Your Time: Be Patient, Be Thorough
The real secret to finding a good housemate is to be patient and thorough. This step in the process is so important you don’t want to rush it. Some people spend years thinking about whether or not they want to share housing, and what that would look like for them. And that’s Ok! Take the time to get to know yourself, so that you can be sure you’re making the right decision when you finally find the home-mate or home-mates that are right for you.