University students - here's how to choose the right housemate
Life can be messy, but choosing a housemate doesn’t have to be with these tips. Source: Devin Avery/Unsplash

Anyone who has experienced the perils of shared accommodation can attest to the importance of choosing the right housemate.

Pick the right housemate and you’ll enjoy a bit more peace in your life at home. Choose a terrible one, and you’re stuck in a stressful situation that can affect your sanity and even put a dent in your wallet.

As a student, peppering your life with unnecessary stress is something you can do without, making it clear that choosing the right housemate is no trivial matter. But what should you factor in when choosing the right housemate? 

Recently, a response to a housing inquiry went viral when the applicant was turned down for being a Capricorn.

The post said: “Our main goal is to keep things egalitarian, without anyone being ‘in charge’ or domming [sic] the household. I love capricorns, but I don’t think I could live with one (or be in a band with another one). This Virgo/Gemini house is a special place where soft mutable signs get to run free untethered by cardinal authorities.”

Extreme? It depends on who you ask. But before you shut someone out for something beyond their control (i.e. like when they were born), here are some suggestions on how you can choose the right housemate:

Choose a stranger over a friend

Living with a friend might seem like fun, but can your friendship survive the test when hard discussions must be made, such as matters involving payment and housekeeping? Source: Shutterstock

Behavioural and personality psychologist Donna Dawson notes that you shouldn’t necessarily pick a friend to be your housemate over a stranger. Speaking to Refinery29, Dawson said sorting out important issues can get sticky with a friend and make the friendship difficult.

Conversely, it’s easier to be honest with a stranger. “You haven’t got any emotions invested so it’s easier to be honest,” she said.

Be explicit about what you want in a housemate

It’s important to be explicit in your ad about what you want in a housemate to ensure you have a lifestyle match to avoid complications down the line.

So, does a potential housemates’ astrological sign matter in your decision-making? Are you particular about not having a particular type of meat, like pork or beef, in your household due to religious sensitivities? Are you big on recycling and saving the Earth? You’ll want a housemate who shares those values too, and not someone who leaves all the lights and heating or cooling devices on at all hours.

However, it’s worth noting that depending on your country of residence, some things are considered illegal discrimination, such as race or religion, among others, so tread carefully when doing so.

Be thorough with your interview

Source: Giphy

Once you’ve identified the traits of a potential housemate, it’s important to list some questions to ask them.

Domain notes that it’s important to make your meeting count, ensuring that everyone in the household gets to meet the candidates, in addition to sharing a meal or a drink with them to observe their etiquette and manners.

Some questions they suggest asking include general questions about their life, proposing real-life scenarios and asking them for their response. Once your potential housemate is aware of the house rules, check whether they’ll be happy to live in such a situation.

Use your intuition

Interviewing a potential housemate is part of your groundwork, but Dawson notes that intuition and gut instincts are important, too.

“Sometimes you just get a feeling about somebody. It might feel uneasy and you don’t know why, or you just get a sense and you click instantly and everything just falls into place. You need to listen to those little voices that tell you one way or another,” she told Refinery 29.

She added that women tend to be better at intuition, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

The international student’s guide to being a good roommate

On- or off-campus? Here’s why your housing choice matters