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Find the Perfect Housemates with These Easy Questions


Housemate horror stories abound for international students.

For many, study abroad is one of their first opportunities to live out of their parents home. Whether it’s your first time going it alone, your housemates first time (or both) there’s plenty of opportunities for miscommunications and arguments about money, responsibilities, and personal space.

To avoid unnecessary angst, and find the perfect people to share your home with, ask potential housemates the following questions.

Have you lived out of home before?

It’s not that someone who hasn’t lived out of home is necessarily going to be a problem, but some experience at independence will help the both of you. If they haven’t lived away from their parent’s place before, ask them if there’s another time they’ve had to look out for themselves – like traveling.

Do you enjoy socialising at home or do you prefer to have space to yourself?

Some people just want to go home and chill out in their room with a book or Netflix. Others want to gather in the kitchen and talk about their day. Neither preference is better than the other –  the problem is that many people assume that everyone has the same preference as they do, and can be offended or annoyed to find out that they don’t. Asking an interviewee how they prefer to interact with others at home will help you decide if you’re going to be a good match.

How will you pay your rent?

This is an essential question that many people avoid asking.  Yes, it seems almost rude, but it’s important never to assume anything. Ask them directly, and look for a clear, confident answer.

How often are you likely to have people over?

Too many happy housemate relationships fall to pieces because of third parties. That is – friends, relatives, boyfriends, girlfriends or neighbours who are invited into the shared living space and wreak havoc. Third parties take up space, make messes, noise, and add to the energy bill, so it’s very important to get a sense of what your interviewee think is reasonable when it comes to inviting people over.

How clean do you like to keep things and what do you think is a fair way to allocate cleaning tasks?

This simple query will avoid a lot of possible arguments.  The phrasing of this question is also important. What is ‘fair’ and what is ‘clean’ are very subjective. If someone is only asked; ‘will you help to keep the apartment clean?’ of course, they’ll say ‘yes.’ But by asking them to define themselves what is clean and what is a good chore-allocation plan, tells you how they see things and therefore, how they’ll actually behave.

In your life, what does a typical day look like?

Get a sense of your potential housemate’s schedule so that you can figure out if it will match up well with your lifestyle.  For example, you might struggle with someone who often comes home in the early hours of the morning, if you need to get up early for work.

Do you smoke or do drugs?

It might feel a little rude to ask, but these can be deal breakers for some. Best to know than to find when it’s too late.

How long do you intend to stay and what, if anything, could affect the length of your duration?

In addition to finding out when they plan to leave, check if they have any plans to take a holiday (maybe back home to see their family at the end of the year?) and what will happen if they do. Will they get someone to replace them, or will they continue to pay rent while their away?