How to find the right match?
Finding the right match is hard enough when it comes to our love life alone but if your potential roommate is involved, things can be far more sophisticated.
Still, we’re stuck on this pale blue dot and it’s in our hands to keep it safe in every possible way. Maybe the cleanest cities in the word can give you some ideas on how to keep the environment safe and sound, without leaving the comfort of the modern era and the technological progress far behind.
Unfortunately, quite a few of us can afford to live alone and have a place on our own. Since buying a home in London (and even worldwide) has become less and less popular, having a decent flatmate is probably among your top three priorities when it comes to living in the UK capital.
So let’s start with the things you should know about your potential roommate before adding one more name to your tenancy agreement.
Set up a meeting, order some fish and chips or coffee and muffins, cuz’ you’re about to get to know this person much better than you expect. Remember you should learn as much about your prospective roommate as possible and do it before you move in together. Have in mind that no one is perfect, so choose the one with whose disadvantage you can deal with – just try to find the right balance and all should be just fine.
Now it's time to present the list:
We will not discuss basics considering smoking and owning a pet because we’re pretty sure that there’s no way to skip them. After all, if pets and smoking are allowed, this would definitely be in your benefit as well. Plus, if you’re a non-smoker, ashtrays are out of the question and if your cat is in charge, you probably won’t settle with a dog person.
- Why are you looking for a new place?
This is certainly the first thing you should ask. The answer can immediately ring the fire alarm in your head. If your potential roommate hesitates for too long or starts to stutter, that’s definitely not a good sign.
- Why do you want to live here?
This is the rental version of
Why do you want to work here?and it’s a fair question, don’t you agree?
- How long you’re planning to stay?
If you’re looking for someone to occupy the vacant room in your apartment only temporary, now is the time to put it straight. The same goes in the opposite situation as well – if you’re looking for someone to stay, you should know if your prospect roommate intends to do so.
- What do you expect from your roommate?
- Can you provide any references?
This may sound rather formal but still, if you’re dealing with a decent person, it shouldn’t be a problem for your prospect roommate to take one of those or give you the number of his or her previous flatmate or landlord in order to keep you happy and cross this from the list. Plus, it’s totally acceptable to ask for references.
- What’s your rental history for the past five years?
The answer to this question will surely reveal a lot about your potential housemate. If he or she has lived in the same apartment for the past five years and is only moving because the owners sold the home or the need of a new place which is closer to work, then this definitely goes to the pros side of the list.
If your potential flatmate hasn’t had a permanent address for the past five years and can’t show evidence that they’re able to regularly and promptly pay the rent for an extended period of time, then you probably should swipe left.
- What do you do for a living?
It’s not as a direct question as
How much you make in a year, although you can ask this as well. You should assure that you’re about to share a room with someone, who can afford the rent and the bills which come with it. A person’s job can tell you a lot about his or her potential as a whole. Just remember to pay attention to the way he or she speaks about it. After all, you don’t need additional stress in your home right?!
Now is the perfect time to ask if any difficulties with paying the rent on time can be expected. After all to have someone at home who is just lying on the couch is not exactly the idea you’ve imagined. And since the money topic is on – discuss the utility bills and food expenses - are you going to split those or not?
- What’s your employment history for the past five years?
Once you know what your possible flatmate does for a living, it’s good to know if he or she has a consistent job. This is more than a good sign of reliability. If they talk around the question, switch jobs a lot or don't appear to have one at all, that is definitely a red flag.
- How often do you clean the bathroom?
Observe the spontaneous reaction when you bring that up. It is true that as a roommate you can handle a lot but the difference in cleaning habits is the one thing that surely won’t last. This is among the top three reasons why roommates fight in the first place. So get this lear from day one.
Everyone has a different idea of what exactly clean means so define this now.
NB!Don’t forget that we always got you covered and our definition of clean is a place to be left flawlessly spotless and perfectly bright
- How neat/organized are you?
Well, you’re not going to hang out in your flatmate’s room a lot but still, you’re sharing the same living room, kitchen and even the bathroom, so it’s good to be on the same page here. If you’re some Monk-like kind of guy, while your flatmate is constantly leaving a mess and things that let chaos rule instead of tidying up or even worse (like e.g. be a real keen about the Chaos theory and loves to see how this would go in practice), things are literally doomed.
- Hot or cold?
When it comes to the temperature, it’s best to be on the same degree. If you’re dealing with someone who thinks that your kitchen should be a freezer or is among those who like it hot, probably you won’t find the middle ground. After all, the comfort comes first and the temperature is among the things on which it depends.
- Early bird or night owl?
Are you a morning or a night person? This one is important for both of you. If you have to deal with a totally different lifestyle and working schedule than yours, then it’s best to swipe left and save yourself the hassle of waking up at 5 a.m. each morning or staying up late till 2 a.m. when a really important meeting of yours is just a few hours away. Remember that when someone’s sleeping schedule is getting disrupted, it will result not only in a grumpy mood but in a living situation that will probably go from friendly to homicidal.
- Are you cool with overnight guests?
When you’re sharing the space with someone else, one night stands may be strongly unwanted – no matter if we’re talking about your long-term relationship or the one you’ve found on Tinder. Be aware whether you and your potential roommate have the same vision on this one. Don’t forget to set some ground rules about the guest policy as a whole. And while talking about relationships:
- How about his or her romantic situation?
After all, you don’t want to constantly bump on someone, who is spending more time at the apartment than you and still doesn’t contribute to the bills at all. Plus, you surely don’t want to find out that your last piece of cake is mysteriously gone or that you have to wait in line to use the bathroom. So when it comes to your potential roommate, you should set the ground rules from the very beginning.
- What do you use your home space for?
If something strange is about to take place in the middle of your living room (like summoning a demon, band or step dance rehearsals) you should be prepared, so it won’t hurt to ask in advance.
- What does a typical day in your life look like?
It sounds a bit like that essay you had to write in 3rd grade but it’s a nice question though, so listen carefully and see if you can handle your potential roommate’s schedule just fine.
- What are your hobbies?
How do you spend your free time, what do you like to do during the weekends? – Those are basically the same questions, so choose one and go for it. You may find something in common or a habit you definitely don’t want to deal with. And since we mention habits – ask:
- What are your worst and best habits?
We hope that you’ll get a sincere answer here and probably share your own as well.
- What are your pet peeves?
It’s good to know what will certainly trigger your potential roommate’s murder button and avoid it at all cost. If you’ve ever owned a cat you know what we mean by that.
- Do you have any allergies/illnesses that I should be aware of?
This one can be literally a lifesaver. You need to be prepared for some extraordinary or urgent situations, emanating from a certain medical condition or at least be aware if there are peanuts in the snack you’ve just offered to share.
- What is your taste in music/movies/books etc.?
This is not only an icebreaker but something which may shake the boat. So ensure that you won’t be forced to watch soap operas or listen to death metal all night long if you don’t want to.
- Are you a cat or a dog person?
We’ve already mentioned pets but this question doesn’t come together with a fluffy ball – it will give you some idea with what kind of person you’re dealing with and we didn’t read this at Cosmo but overheard it in the annual Association for Psychological Science meeting.
- Do you have any addiction issues?
Probably this one should be brought on earlier but you can’t just start with that. So when you’re kind of comfortable in each other’s company, put a serious face and ask directly. Your name is on the lease as well, so any illegal substances stored at your home may and will get you in trouble. Plus, you don’t need someone, who needs a babysitter, and it’s definitely is not a good idea to feel responsible for someone else’s mistakes and misbehaviour.
- Do you have a criminal record?
If your potential roommate starts to laugh – it’s the best possible reaction but if there are signs of regret in his or her eyes it’s best to know what kind of crime was it. If it’s something innocent (like a parking ticket or fine for loud music) you may be fine with it but still all depends on how open-minded you are.
- Blitz time:
And since we’re in a situation quite similar to a job interview, next comes the question:
It’s time to open up here and be up straight – this goes for both sides. It’s best to get this clear before the moving day.
- Do you like hanging out or prefer being alone?
- Do you tend to stay home (working from home is included here) or never get home?
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
- Do you cook your own meals or prefer having a snack outside?
- Vegan or carnist (be careful here because you definitely don’t want someone judging what your plate contains)?
- Are you wanderlust or homesick after just a few days away?
After spending a fair amount of time discussing everything from the list, we’re pretty sure that you already know if this is the right person to call your roommate, so keep things straight and ask them if they believe that you would be a good match. Now is the time to put the cards on the table and say if you don’t want a shared space to be confused with shared life as well. A lot of people don’t want to be friends with their roommates and this is perfectly fine as long as it works for both sides. After all, if you prefer to stay strangers who just split the rent, so be it.
Now is the time to let your potential tenant take the lead and ask something which he or she finds truly important but you’ve didn’t mention. This is also the last chance to win some extra points by being funny and honest.
A class to remember
If you’re still in college or about to attend one, you can still stick with the list above but just in case, we’ll expand our list even further for this case. Those are the years which will shape you as a person for the rest of your life, so have that in mind when it comes to the person you’re about to share your home with and choose wisely.
- What are you studying or what do you want to study?
The thing a person has chosen to spend years of majoring, indefinitely can tell a lot about what he or she is eager about and what are his or her interests
If you attend some similar classes together, this automatically means at-home study sessions, which can be a total lifesaver, not to mention that if you’re in the same faculty you’ll always have additional notes to get through the whole material.
- How did you decide to attend this college/university?
Is it a particular program? Wanderlust? Passion? A childhood dream come true? A scholarship? The good payments promised post-graduation? The desire to change the world? The list of options is literally countless, so go ahead and ask – the answer will surely give you some thoughts.
- Where are you from?
You should ask this not because of courtesy alone but there’s a chance that you’ve just met someone from your hometown, which would definitely be an icebreaker. Plus, this will give you an idea whether your future roommate will head back home more often or visit his or her family only on holidays. You can directly ask that as well, instead of trying to guess by the body language. A roommate who is absent may be the best one you’ll ever have – basically this means having a place on your own but paying only half the rent.
- Do you know anyone else on campus?
If you find it hard to make new friends and talkative is definitely not a word to describe your personality, then you should hope to receive
Yesas an answer, although if your roommate is at college with his or her high school bestie, you may not be on the list for their home warming party (but you should definitely throw one yourself).
Nois still a good answer though, since you’re both newborns in college life. At least you’ll have someone to drink a cup of warm refreshing tea or share a large pizza with.
- What are your studying habits?
This one is mandatory since this is what college is all about (except parties of course). So if you’re both going to stay home while studying, it’s best to assure that you’re on the same page here. If you need peace and quiet but your roommate’s idea of memorizing better is to blast death metal to the max, then the things between you are doomed. Ask if he or she prefers to study alone or needs some extra help in the form of a loud crowd hanging around casually.
- What activities do you want to get involved with on campus?
This is your bonding time, so get through the list of clubs which your college or university offers and you can maybe attend one together.
- What items do you plan on bringing to share?
Microwave, oven, coffee machine, radio, TV, Sofa etc. – it’s good to know what you need to make your place the right fit, so discuss what you’re both going to contribute with, especially when sharing is an option as well. Don’t forget to coordinate your vision about the decoration as well.
- Would you be willing to pitch in to buy… (fill the blank spot)?
If there’s something you would probably both need but don’t have it in your basement back home, it’s a good idea to discuss if you can share the expenses for buying one. When it comes to college life’s all about sharing after all.
NB! - In case you wonder – No, it’s not a good idea to use this list of questions on a first date but you won’t make a nest with someone after just two glasses of wine either – this is your life after all not a rom sitcom… And now when we’ve got you covered with dozens of questions - let us give you:
Some extra tips:
- Do not haste
Finding a decent roommate is not something you DIY in a day. We all know that there might be an unexpected situation, which leaves you with your hands tied behind your back but still, it’s always better to pay double rent for a month or two, than to find yourself stuck in your worst nightmare. We know that there’s no such thing as a roommate guarantee (although it’s not a bad business idea) and the risk to end up with someone you want to set on fire is always on the table. However, by spending some time to carefully pick the one to share your home with, you’re definitely limiting this possible outcome. Plus, have in mind that the ones who spend a couple of months together, before setting down permanently, are the ones who tend to plan ahead everything – their regular payment rent as well.
- If you have a hard time finding The One
Don’t limit yourself to post an online advertisement in some of the dozens of websites available. Using a professional agency is among the options as well but why don’t you try to spread the word among your friends network and in the office instead? After all, these are the people who know you the best and have at least the slightest idea with what type of a person you will feel comfortable to live beneath one roof. Plus, you’ll have recommendations which you can solidly trust. Don’t underestimate social media as well and spend some time on Facebook – you can write a public post or just join one of many groups, dedicated to finding a room or a roommate in London.
- What is a free room between friends?
Well, it may cost you just about everything. Lend your money and lose your friend, they say, but the same can go quite well with the vacated room in your apartment. The friendships destroyed because of the innocent (only in the first sight) attempt of living together are more than the ones ruined, because of the complicated love triangle kind of situations. So don’t fall for the well-played friendship card – just because your drinking buddy needs a place to crash, it doesn’t obligate you to provide long-term shelter.
Still, if you think you would make the right match – go for it – but not before honestly asking yourself if his or her lifestyle is the one you can handle 24/7.
- Always do your homework
Even if all of the answers provided by your future roommate seem just about right and truthful, it won’t hurt to do your own background check. Running a credit report and/or criminal background check may seem a bit too much but it will definitely repay in the long run.
You can also ask your potential roommate to get their credit checked and present you with the paperwork. If someone objects strongly to a simple background check, this is certainly a red flag. After all, you don’t want to end up with some good-for-nothing, wastrel, deadbeat or an honest psycho, don’t you?
- Make it official
Once you’ve agreed on the amount of rent, splitting the bills, sharing food costs and how you will proceed with the utilities etc., write it all down and assure that you have everything on paper, afterwards you can both sign the dotted line. This is the only way not to be dragged into some scam or find yourself in a rather unpleasant situation, when it’s already too late.
Well by saying all, we don’t mean to write something as adverbially as
Sheldon’s Roommate Agreementbut still be specific and straightforward.
NB: Ask one month’s rent in advance as a deposit. You may not be the landlord but you still have that right, plus, it will be a good indicator that your future roommate is here to stay and if something goes wrong – from tear-off carpet to fire – at least you won’t be left empty-handed.
- Set the ground rules early
Whatever specific demands you may have, the sooner you say them out loud the better. It’s best to discuss the ground rules before the day you move in. Remember the Big Bang Theory series again and you would easily recall at least five times, when the pre-signed rules have worked pretty well for Sheldon. So assure that you and your roommate are on the same page with late-night visitors, parties at home, and love interest with the habit to stay in way too long, and most importantly - the food in the fridge (believe it or not, this is among the top three reasons for roommates to go their separate ways for good)!
Since maintaining your place nice and clean is not only comfortable but a part of your tenancy agreement as well, we're here for you whenever you need some professional cleaning services.
All you have to do is call and we can handle the rest.
And after all has been said and done, you can take a close look at this exemplary template of Roommate Agreement: