Finding a housemate is a great way to cut down on your expenses and put more money towards a deposit or your home loan.
I know, when I first bought my home, the first thing I did was find a housemate. Managing my mortgage would have been impossible without that extra rental income.
For the most part, my experiences with housemates have been really positive. But be warned! There are some strange characters out there. I once had a spice-brewing voodooist who tried to steal my cat!
While it wasn’t as bad as some of the stories in He died with a Falafel in His Hand, I did learn that it pays to be a little bit discerning when choosing a housemate.
Think of it like Internet dating or job hunting. The results can be both disastrous and wonderful, given the right selection process.
So, if you are interested in chipping away that mortgage or saving for a deposit, here are some tips on how to choose the perfect flatmate.
Where to look
First thing first: Where are all the good flatmates hiding?
In my opinion, it’s a good idea to start looking within your network of friends and family. Consider a Facebook callout to see who is interested.
If your housemate is a friend or a friend of a friend, they are likely to be a) a person you will get along with and b) more respectful of your space (no one wants to be the cause of friendship group friction!)
Another good place to look is on sites like Flatmates.com.au or www.flatmatefinders.com.au. I have used Flatmate Finders to find my last two flatmates who have been fantastic because I got to learn a lot about them before making contact. I really like that the emphasis was on the person, their habits, likes and dislikes and the room/property is secondary, meaning you save time by filtering out unsuitable candidates.
As a general rule, looking for a housemate is much easier when you have a strong idea of the kind of person you would like to live with. Before you start the hunt, cover the basics. Do you want to share you place with boys or girls, smokers or non-smokers, couples or singles?
What to ask
Have a good chat with your potential housemates. Understanding what they do for a living, their day-to-day schedule, interests, hobbies and long-term plans will also give you a good indication of their personality and suitability.
In my case, for instance, I knew I didn’t want to live with someone who worked from home so I made sure that was one of the first questions I asked.
While someone may look good on paper, there can be other tell-tale signs that indicate otherwise.
I personally find it very off-putting when a potential housemate shows no interest in who I am as a person. Instead of asking about me, they meticulously inquire about every last detail of the house and its utilities. Surely, I’m just as interesting as my broadband connection!
Other warning signs can be questions on how often you go away, erratic communication and turning up late without explanation.
Ready to find a flatmate?
A flatmate can change your living experience for the better. Not only does their rent provide an extra source of income, there is nothing quite like having someone who will bring you a cup of tea when you’re having a bad day and point out (nicely!) when you’re wearing something inside-out.
If you have any other tips or suggestions, please share them in the comments. I would love to hear your advice on how to find the perfect flatmate – and the curious misadventures that arise when you don’t!
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