Choosing a housemate

You may need to add to your household or it could be you who is in search of a room. So how do you make sure you find the right housemate who won't drive you insane?

Group chatting outside

"So, how often do you wash up exactly?"

How do you choose a housemate?

You may be in a hurry to find a new housemate, but that’s no reason to say ‘Yes’ to the first person that comes in the door. Many of us feel awkward about asking personal questions or making requests (i.e. no smoking indoors), but if you don’t set the rules at the beginning, your new housemate could run riot in what was once your home of tranquillity. On the other hand, if you’re a bunch of party animals who survive on baked beans and energy drinks and your new housemate likes to be tucked up in bed by 9.30pm with a mug of hot chocolate, this could be a recipe for disaster.

Interviewing possible flatmates

Bowled over by your eager housemate-to-be? It may be worth digging that little bit deeper so you can really suss them out. Think about what it is you want from your new housemate. Is it someone to add to your circle of friends who has similar interests, or someone who is simply there to help pay the rent and is happy to live separate lives?

It’s not always a good idea to sit them down in front of a large panel for an hour of hard questioning. Instead, try casually asking your questions as you show them around your home or chill out with a cuppa.

Questions to ask a new housemate:

  • How do you want to buy food or household items – through a kitty, or separately?
  • Do you like to cook for yourself, or share the cooking?
  • Will you be bringing your partner over to stay, and if so how often?
  • What music do you like?
  • Do you have any strange habits? (e.g. walking around naked or hoovering at two in the morning)
  • Do you plan to have any house parties?
  • What do you do? Or what are you studying?
  • Do you work strange hours, or work from home?
  • Are you a heavy drinker and do you take drugs?
  • Do you prefer keeping to a cleaning rota, or mucking in when needs be?

When you’re the potential new housemate

It’s always a good idea to find out about any rules and regulations before you move in. Does the rent include bills, or will there be any extras like the TV licence?

Make sure you’ve met all your potential new housemates before you agree to move in. Two of them may be normal, but if you haven’t met the guy who’s so eco friendly that he doesn’t have a bath more than once a month, then you could be in for a shock. You should also watch out for the sexy ones – big crushes and housemates don’t always mix well, especially if you’re already taken!

If they tell you that you’re the 50th person they’ve seen that week, you may start to worry about why they’ve been so picky. That’s exactly what happened to Suzy, who moved into a house in Manchester after she broke up with her boyfriend. “I was flattered they had finally found someone they liked and everything was fine at first. I was living with a girl and a guy who were mates from university. The girl ended up being a complete control freak who would stress out if I used tap water instead of bottled water in her iron,” Suzy recalls.

“The bloke, as nice as he was, worked from home and was in-my-face the minute I got home from work, wanting to speak to someone after a day of solitude, when all I wanted to do was collapse. I only lived there for 10 months. It just goes to show how living with strangers can be a real gamble.”

Deciding who you’re going to live with

Even if you’re getting on like a house on fire, perhaps you could arrange to meet up again to make a final decision. At the end of the day if they’re keen to live with you, they’ll understand your apprehension, remember getting rid of a housemate is hard work.

Never make any promises at the end of your meeting. Say you have a few more people to see and will let you know by the end of the week. If it’s you who’s being interviewed, say that you have a few more places to visit. For all you know, the perfect housemates could be just around the corner.

Next Steps

  • Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use instead.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.




Updated on 29-Sep-2015