Six questions to ask a potential flatmate

Aaron

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Securing a new flatmate can be daunting and ridiculously time consuming. We know it can be tempting to rush the process due to time constraints, unless you’re ok with forking out for the entire rent.

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It’s important to take your time and ask the right questions. After all, the person you choose will be living under the same roof as you for months to come.

These six questions might seem simple, but they save time by helping you get to key information, fast.

Some can be asked as “screening questions” over the phone. Once that’s done, you can work out who to invite for an inspection and face-to-face chat.

“What do you do for work?”

This will address the all-too-important but socially sensitive topic of affording the rent. It will help you understand whether — and how — the person is employed. If they don’t have work, it puts you in a good position to ask how they’ll pay the rent.

It’s important to remember that those who are not employed full-time have other means of paying their rent, be it through part-time work, government benefits or scholarships, so don’t immediately discount someone who says they don’t currently work full-time or at all.

Handily, the question may also uncover if your flatmate and their field of employment will bring any new perks or talents to the home. They’re a baker you say? Hello fresh bread on the daily!

“How long have you been living in shared homes?”

There may not be a degree in Cohabitation but having lived with others in the past will make you better at doing it in the future. Someone who’s done it before (and recently) already knows the frustrations and joys of sharing bathrooms, kitchens and living areas with others. That could make it easier for them to fit in than someone who’s never shared a place with anyone but their own family.

If a person hasn’t shared before, you might expect a short teething period. That’s especially true for someone who’s been living alone. Prepare to set some ground rules up-front and encourage open conversation about how things are going after they’ve moved in.

“Why did you leave your last home?”

Expect positive responses here. Even if your potential flatmate’s reasons for leaving their previous home were negative, they probably won’t say so.

That said, their answer might tip you off to problems that might arise in your shared home. For example, if the old place was too quiet, are they hinting that they are a party animal? If they say their previous housemate was “antisocial”, ask about their expectations for interaction and hanging out.

Remember, you’re not just picking someone who suits your home: you want to make sure your home suits the person you pick as well.

“What time do you get up / what does your schedule look like?”

Whether they work, study or otherwise, it’s good to get a sense of the person’s schedule. Adding a new flatmate to the already busy 7–7.30am bathroom rush could see you leaving the house later than you want.

It will also identify if the applicant works shifts, which can be positive or negative depending on the current flatmates. The good could be less strain on the morning on the poor shower and fry pans during peak times, while the bad could be someone up-and-about the home during the night or early morning.

“How do you spend your weekends?”

A natural follow-up to the last question, asking what your potential flatmate does on a typical weekend is a good way to decide if they will fit the existing house vibe. Some flatmates are home-bodies, while others seem to never be home. Perhaps your place is better suited to one type than the other.

If you’re social and enjoy people around the home often, then a homebody could be a good bet. On the other hand, if you enjoy the place to yourself on a weekend, having a flatmate who enjoys being out could better suit the house dynamic.

This type of question can also help indicate if they enjoy having friends over on the weekends or if they like to go out to meet people.

“Do you have a partner (of any sort)?”

If your new flatmate has a long term partner that will be around all the time, you need to know this. If said partner is going to be spending more time at your house than their own house, then a discussion around contributing to the house needs to come about.

If your new flatmate is someone who likes to pick up on a night out, that is something you may want to know about if strangers are going to be in your house frequently.

These questions might seem little dull, but trust us, it will make your house life thrive. It all depends what works for you and your household, but if you flag tour expectations from the start, there won’t be any messy issues down the line.

author

Aaron

support@flatmates.com.au

flatmates

Aaron is the Flatmates.com.au's Product Manager. He is an avid supporter and user of share accommodation, currently living with two (lucky) flatmates.