Have you ever lived with your best friend, and it turned out to be a nightmare? Or have you ever shared a house with someone who might not be your best friend but turns out to be the most wonderful flatmate?
No wonder if your answer is “yes”. Because your best friend probably won’t be your best flatmate, and vice versa.
Find a flatmate who is compatible with you
It is important to find a flatmate who is compatible with you. However, you also want someone who respects your privacy and who shows discretion when you are busy, stressed or tired. Sometimes, you might just want to share the rent and the household costs with somebody, without having another person in the house all the time. You don’t necessarily want to share everything with your flatmate, and you don’t necessarily want to feel obliged to have breakfast or dinner or a late night chat everyday with the person you are sharing your house with. Last but not least, seeing your best friend suddenly pay their rent late (or not at all) and asking them to pay a deposit and sign a contract might well put you into a very awkward situation – and put your friendship at risk.
This is why your best friend might just not be the right flatmate.
Ask these questions to find the right flatmate
So, in order to find a flatmate who is right for you, you need to find out the following:
- Are they compatible with you?
- Are they honest and reliable, and can they afford to pay their rent?
- How much time will they spend in the house?
- Will they stay long-term or just a few months?
But don’t ask the questions above. Instead, ask the questions below, and keep the four questions above in mind.
- What are your hobbies? (=Do we have things in common? Are we compatible? Will you spend a lot of time outside the house?)
- What is your favourite food? (=Will you cook a lot at home? Will you spend a lot of time in the kitchen? Or not at all? Do you drink a lot?)
- Where do you like to go out? (=Are you a party animal or will you sit at home in front of the TV every evening? Or (hopefully) something in between?)
- Do you work full time? Part time? Just study? (=How much time will you spend outside the house? Will you often come home late and party during the week?)
- Where do you work? (=How long is your commute? How much time will you spend outside the house?)
- What do you do, and do you enjoy it? (=How stressed are you by your job? How often do you travel? What is the chance you move to another job soon? Can you afford to pay your rent?)
- Why are you moving? (=Did you get evicted? Did you not get on well with your previous flatmates?)
- Do you travel a lot? (=Will you be away a lot?)
- Do you like pets? (=Do you have any? Or would you like to have any?)
Very important: see if they mention a partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) during the conversation. If not, feel free to ask towards the end of the interview. If they mention their partner several times, find out where the partner lives. They might either spend a lot of time at their partners’ home, or the partner might spend a lot of time at your home. Watch out for this – you might want to meet the partner, or to avoid permanently have two persons in your house when you thought you were just renting the room to one.
Make it a two-way dialogue, let them ask you questions. That will show you whether they are interested in getting to know you or whether they just want the room (in which case they are likely to spend less time living there and want to socialise much less with you).
Always run background checks
Finally, make sure you run background checks. Ideally, get recommendations from previous landlords or flatmates, or even better, see if there is somebody you know in common. A referral from somebody you trust will suddenly bring a stranger found on the internet so much closer.