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Picking a flatmate

By Tatarigami in Culture
Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 12:24:03 AM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

For many of us who prefer the convenience of living close to work or large population centres, accommodation is relatively expensive and sharing becomes a necessity. A flatmate can make your rent and utilities more affordable, as well as reducing the amount of housework you find yourself confronted by. Additionally, your home life can be much more pleasant if that flatmate is a considerate and sociable person who shares some of your interests. It's possible to be a good friend as well as an extra pair of hands and a divided rent cheque.

However, flatmates are individuals. Living in close quarters with one or more other people, you begin to realise that everyone has a few eccentricities which may, over time, make them difficult to live with. Odd habits which, if you'd been aware of at the time you were first getting to know them, might have prompted you to pass them over and look elsewhere.

But how do you discover these habits before having them inflicted on you? Is there a science to selecting a flatmate?

"Is it okay if I have a guest stay the night now and then?"
"That's fine."
"Cool, 'cos David's parents kicked him out. And John just split up with his girlfriend. Brian and Glen are looking for a place to crash, too. Hey, the whole band would be here! We could rehearse in the living room."
Some potential flatmates are considerate enough to put the traits that would make them unsuitable on display the first time you meet. They can be painlessly eliminated before either one of you invests too much time and effort in the process.

Of course, this assumes that you have a range of candidates to choose from, and the luxury of enough time to interview them. Sometimes that's not the case. Maybe your previous flatmate left in a hurry. Maybe you just found the perfect place, available immediately, and can't afford it by yourself. Maybe your time is already committed and you just want to get the whole process over and done with as quickly as possible.

"My lover, Death, informs me these premises will be adequate."
"Oh, I didn't realise you were in a relationship. That's an interesting name. Is she an artist?"
"She is the extinction of thought. The cessation of toil. The omega. The ultimate fate of all who live. No, she's not an artist."
"I... see. You know what, I just remembered: I already rented out that room. Sorry."
Of course, the obvious quirks aren't the ones which are going to matter in the long run. Is this person tidy? Do they wash their dishes regularly? Will they respect your space and property? Do they like playing loud music when you're trying to sleep?

In five years of flatting, the people I've shared with have been all over the graph. My first flatmate was a recluse who rarely left his room, but was also one of the most considerate people I've known, and I genuinely regretted losing him when his job took him out of the country. My second flatmate was a social butterfly who could be depended on for interesting conversation and organising parties, but she was also a kleptomaniac who would literally steal anything small enough to fit into a pocket. Flatmate number three was another success in most respects, although he had a hearing problem which became a source of friction when he wanted to watch his Elvis documentaries at 2 AM. My current flatmate is a nice guy, but he lived with his parents well into his twenties, and hasn't yet digested the idea that his slowly-spreading mess won't pick itself up when he's not looking. And he's leaving soon to move back home.

"Yes, this place is great. Well, mostly great. There are a couple of minor things I can fix after I move in."
"Minor things?"
"Yes, the curtains don't match the carpet, that's all. Well, and your speakers aren't positioned right. The furniture's a little disorganised, and your posters aren't level. Nothing I can't put right."
"Could you stop that?"
"Stop what?"
"Reaching over and moving my glass to the exact centre of the coaster."
There's an old adage which says you should never live with friends, family or workmates if you want to maintain a good relationship with them. Bitter experience shows this is one of those sayings that has a grain of truth in it, but hasn't made me a better judge of character when it comes to picking the right person to share my living space with. If anyone reading Kuro5hin has developed an infallible technique for assessing potential flatmates -- or even just a few solid rules of thumb to follow -- please, share them!


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Worst kind of flatmate
o neat freak 12%
o slob 22%
o social butterfly 14%
o completely asocial 6%
o music fan 2%
o music hater 8%
o borrower 20%
o "don't touch my stuff!" 12%

Votes: 108
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Also by Tatarigami

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Picking a flatmate | 42 comments (37 topical, 5 editorial, 3 hidden)
I found the solution (3.40 / 10) (#1)
by quartz on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:31:48 PM EST

I just kept trying out room mate after room mate, and when I found the perfect one, I married her. :)

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Hey! (2.60 / 5) (#4)
by ucblockhead on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:49:06 PM EST

Me too! (seriously)
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
opposite (3.85 / 7) (#11)
by tps12 on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:08:40 PM EST

Hm, I just kept trying wife after wife, and when I found the perfect one, I moved in with her.

[ Parent ]
Just imagine... (1.75 / 8) (#3)
by Stick on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 07:45:17 PM EST

Having tombuck as a flatmate.

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
roomates (4.33 / 9) (#6)
by ucblockhead on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:00:43 PM EST

*Best*: (Not counting the one I married)

She showed up from Alaska, where she'd spent the summer working on a fishing boat.  She filled freezer with Alaskan Salmon and point a note on the door saying "take all you want".  She worked on odd schedule.  I almost never saw her.  There was never a mess.  There was never any noise.  Unfortunately, she moved in with her boyfriend three months later. :(


A friend from high school, he had a week long psychotic episode after a bad acid trip that left him utterly incoherent.  I spent the entire week making sure he didn't do something insane.  I took a shower one morning and got out to discover bags of Jehovah's Witness  literature had suddenly appeared in our livingroom, with him unable to coherently say where it came from.  He'd quite literally spend the entire night watching the home shopping network rather than sleeping.  I had to take him down to the free mental health clinic to get him medicine, which he did not like to take, as he prefered the psychotic state.

A few months after the psychotic episode, he burned out his bedroom, causing enough smoke and heat damage to make nearly everything in the upper floor unusable, including pretty much everything in my bedroom, including all of my record albums and clothes.

Anyway, I have little advice other than to beware of rooming with couples, because of third-wheel syndrome, and that opposite sex roomates are great if your single, but it's best to date the roomate's friends rather than the roomate.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

The definitive guide (4.00 / 8) (#12)
by cafeman on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:14:21 PM EST

For those who want to know what *not* to look for in a roommate, get "He died with a felafel in his hand". It's a collection of vignettes by a guy who's lived with *way* too many different people. Think nazis, goths, weirdos, druggies, and psychotics. To keep the rent down, they let a guy camp in their living room. Literally. With a tent. Friction started though when he started to move into "Jabba the Hutt's" territory in front of the tv ...

That and the rotting, vacuum packed goat's head on the wall and the satan worshipping goths in the back yard. The movie isn't anywhere near as good.

Personally, I moved out of one share house when I got home and there was a mouse sitting in front of the TV, happily watching Ricky. That didn't really stress me too much. What did, though, was when it turned around, looked at me, and went back to watching Ricky. That was pretty much when I started looking elsewhere.

"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"

I'll be happy to comment... (1.80 / 5) (#13)
by tranx on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:16:28 PM EST

... on my nine-odds years of flatmating if you repost under Columns, isn't that where this should go?

"World War III is a guerrilla information war, with no division between military and civilian participation." -- Marshall McLuhan

Forget that... (2.33 / 3) (#17)
by tranx on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:37:51 PM EST

...I mean the reposting thing. Im exceptional at showing the asshole I deserve to be. Mojoing me down with a 2 was far too merciful, thanks.

Could that be connected with the fact that nobody wanted to live in the same flat with me in the end?... kidding... I was so fond of sharing the house w/ my mates I ended up getting my CS degree 3ys late... but cum laude, and it was great fun (the mates, not the University)

"World War III is a guerrilla information war, with no division between military and civilian participation." -- Marshall McLuhan
[ Parent ]

How I did it (4.64 / 14) (#16)
by driptray on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:35:07 PM EST

Quite some time ago I was in the position of trying to find a flatmate for the fourth room in a four bedroom house. At that time the rental market was running wild, and the rent we were charging was well under what the market would bear. This meant that we could choose from literally hundreds of applicants.

The first step was to filter people out based on a phone call. This was very easy as many people said things that rang alarm bells, such as

  • Mentioning their boyfriend/girlfriend (strong indication that said boyfriend/girlfriend will be spending a lot of time at your house)
  • Asking if their mother/father could accompany them to the interview
  • Mentioning pets
  • Mentioning occupations such as police, security guard, prison guard, and butcher, none of which I care for
  • Mentioning other general prejudices of mine

The next step was to interview the remaining prospects. As a piece of fun, we decided to create a questionnaire that they could fill in. It turned out to be about 3 pages long, and required at least 30 minutes to fill in.

This turned out to be a great idea. Tennant interviews are stressful for all involved, but the questionnaire gave the interviewees something to do, and served as the starting point for a lot of revealing conversation. The completed questionnaires were also a great record of every interviewee, and allowed us to scrawl some extra observations about the interviewee, so that when were in the process of narrowing the choice down to a short list we had something to refer to.

The questions were a bizarre mix of the serious, the humorous, and the plain grasping. We listed all the household objects we hankered after, but couldn't afford (for eg, washing machine, dryer, CD player, particular CDs by bands we liked, and asked if the interviewee had any of them. This led to wonderful arguments later about who would be best:- boring Greg with the washing machine, or party-girl Sue with the CD player and good record collection.

We also included questions asking people about their job, their family, and their innermost desires. People who cheerfully refused to answer certain of the more intrusive questions scored bonus points for personal integrity, while those who slavishly answered everything were marked down for obsequiousness.

In the end we decided on a guy that was unemployed. He gave breezy intelligent answers to questions, and had good taste in music, which trumped the fact that he had no income. It turned out to be a good decision - he was a perfect flatmate in every respect except for an incredible grumpiness first thing in the morning which always evaporated after his first cup of coffee. Saying good morning to him would sometimes get a "Fuck off" in return, but he never seemed hold a grudge, or even remember it.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
Now this... (5.00 / 6) (#19)
by Tatarigami on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:22:00 PM EST

...is a brilliant idea!

  • The dishes need washing:

  • daily/every couple of days/weekly/when it takes two strong men to separate them

  • I turn the music down by:

  • 10 PM/11 PM/12 PM/when the police arrive

  • I return things:

  • the same day/when I'm finished with them/when I'm asked/when the ransom is paid

  • The living room is:

  • a shared space for socialising and entertaining visitors/where the TV and stereo are, god bless 'em/a good place to leave stuff when it overflows my bedroom

    This could save me a few socially awkward moments.

    [ Parent ]
    People don't know themselves (4.00 / 1) (#24)
    by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 08:04:39 AM EST

    Especially borrowers, and messy people.

    "Ben, have you got all the coffee cups in your room? There don't seem to be any downstairs."

    "There might be one ..."

    Ben goes to his room and returns with two mugs ... after much searching the rest of the house, one maybe two turn up, but several are still missing in action. Later Ben goes out. A quick check of his room and I find four (or was it six?) more mugs, thick with mold on the window ledge.

    In his time living with me, Ben has also managed to collect all of my pint glasses. And that's a lot of pint glasses. A full cupboards worth - at least 18 or of them!
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
    [ Parent ]

    I entertained the idea for a bit... (2.00 / 2) (#18)
    by MKalus on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 08:58:03 PM EST

    ... then I got a "house guest" who was a "candidate" for a potential flatmate.

    That cured me pretty quickly, I am still thinking that these two weeks where a sign of how bad a bad marriage can be, he not only turned my whole place upside down (I still can't find some of my stuff) he also "borrowed" stuff which I never saw again.

    In the end I come to the conclusion that I like to live on my own and not battle with a room mate.

    My calm nerves are worth the extra money I am spending.

    -- Michael

    Useful training course (3.66 / 6) (#21)
    by Maclir on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 10:15:18 PM EST

    You may wish to bookmark this page: Cleaning the Kitchen

    Successful method in the past (3.00 / 3) (#22)
    by thebrix on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 04:33:44 AM EST

    My (our) technique was to extend what we already had and try to get people who worked for the same company as us but in a different office and different markets. (This was possible in the circumstances as our company then had about 5,000 employees and a lot of offices dotted around London).

    So we got the advantage of some cunning pre-selection by the company (interviewers tend to pick people like themselves) and a little bit of distance; I'd imagine two people who worked on the same project would be trying to the patience of the others who didn't as they would, unavoidably, talk shop.

    As it turned out, we had to find someone new three times in two and a half years; when we could get someone according to the criteria above there were no problems but, the one time we couldn't, there was endless trouble.

    For an elimination method... (3.33 / 3) (#23)
    by GeekTroppo on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 07:29:26 AM EST

    ...try the flatmate from hell detection test at Bill Harper's humourwriter.com.

    And, for the record, humour is spelt correctly (at least for those of us in Australia).

    Big Things / Little Things (4.85 / 7) (#25)
    by jynx on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 09:40:02 AM EST

    It all boils down to the Big Things / Little Thing theory. Big Things are are the truly important things in life. The things that really define a person:
    • Do you have compatible political views?
    • Do you find each other interesting?
    • Are there hobbies/sports/pastimes you can enjoy together?
    • Is your overall attitude to life similar?
    Little things are what should be insignificant details about a persons character:
    • Do you watch the same TV shows?
    • Can you stand each others music?
    • Do you adhere to comparable levels of cleanliness and tidiness?
    • Does one of your little eccentricities bug the hell out of him/her (and vice versa)?
    When looking for friends: big things are what matters.
    When looking for housemates: little things are what matters.
    When looking for a partner: both big and little things both matter. (Obvious really, because a your partner should ultimately be both a friend and a housemate.)

    That's why finding friends and housemates are totally different problems, and why finding a partner is so much harder than both.


    House Mates (2.66 / 3) (#26)
    by craigtubby on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 11:45:12 AM EST

    Just thought I would go through some of mine - a 3 bedroomed house that hadn't benn decorated since 1960 ....

    Starting with
    House Mate 1 - We got the house together, he had managed to sleep about and his girlfriend had thrown him out.  Good friend, hours of fun playing starcraft, but never did the dishes and was alway late with the rent.

    House Mate 2 - 45+ bloke who was seeing a woman round the corner, started off well, then started paying rent and bill intermitantly, he broke up with his girlfriend, stalked her and left when House Mate 3 asked him to leave.

    House Mate 3 - House mate 1 moved out, as he got back with his girlfriend, and House Mate 3 moved in.  Payed bills on time, payed rent on time, got pissed continuasly.  Great bloke, and told House Mate 2 to leave when I bottled it.

    House Mate 1 - moves back in, becasue hes been shagging about and been thrown out again.

    House Mate 3 leaves to become a nurse, and gets cheaper accomodation, with nurses.

    House Mate 4 - Work with this guy and used to give him a lift in, although I should have suspected something when he was thrown out of his last place and was always late with his petrol money.  Always late with bills, always ran up huge phone bills, let his mate stay round who had just got out of prison, wreked the house, played loud music all the time, his mate had the police round for rape and assult.  

    House mate 1 leaves again to get back with his girlfriend.

    House Mate 5 come in, a long distance lorry driver, decent bloke who paid his rent on time, his daughter, who stayed a couple of times, was cute.

    House Mate 5 leaves, House Mate 6 comes - and brings mixing decks with him  .... painted the bathroom and payed bills on time.

    House mate 4 leaves and offers house mate 6 a room in his new house (hey I couldn't have been all bad, house mate 6 stayed) we get numerous debt colleting agencies around trying to chase him, I change the locks and get House Mate 7 in who starts off okay, but then goes into hospital and leaves ... his deposit just about covered everything *phew*

    House mate 8 comes in, I sort of knew him at uni, paid rent on time (or at least his partents did) and promptly lost job he was okay but a bit of a girl, I mean he liked to dress up as one.

    Finally I leave, and house mate 6 takes over tenancy.  What happened from then on?  Well I got a letter, by mistake, from the letting agency telling me they will throw me out if I the neigbours call envromental health again .....

    My thought?  Well I'm a bit shit at chooseing housemates and probably a bit of a housemate from hell too :-).

    try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

    * Webpage *

    Wild Guess (none / 0) (#41)
    by CokeBear on Sun Aug 04, 2002 at 04:35:09 PM EST

    I'm going to take a wild guess and say you're british? ;-)

    [ Parent ]
    Wild Guess (none / 0) (#42)
    by craigtubby on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:26:24 AM EST

    Err, yes.  You are correct.  Why the Guess thou?

    try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

    * Webpage *
    [ Parent ]

    Roommate Criteria (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by xmarcus on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 11:59:07 AM EST

    #1: Look for someone who owns the house/appt or holds the lease.  These people have a vested interest in maintenance.  They will do all the required cleaning, organizing, repairing, and paperwork for you.

    #2: Live with women.  Men's cleaning habits are well documented.  Men are also lousy home decorators.  I can't tell you how many male maintained places I've looked at that have neon Bud Light signs and video games (arcade style) in the living room.

    #3: People with high income professions are good too because they're never home.  Artists on the other hand.

    So get in touch with me if you know any female lawyer home owners in Toronto that are looking for a roommate :)

    Live with women? (3.50 / 2) (#32)
    by sct1000 on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 04:24:23 PM EST

    We figured that #2 and #3 were probably good enough criteria to rent out our 3rd bedroom to this Finnish geochemist that applied. She seemed okay, but then, they always do.

    Our goodwill started evaporating when she moved in and announced that she'd just found out she was pregnant. By the 17 year old son of the women she previously rented a room from. (She was 24)

    We also discovered that the assumptions we made about female housekeeping were way off the mark (I've never lived with a bloke as inconsiderate).

    She turned into the proverbial bitch from hell, started working from home (son's mom worked with her and wanted to see her die -- so did we after a while), and we got stuck in the middle of a nasty moral dilemma: How bad does it get before you throw a foreign pregnant woman on the street?

    Out patience lasted 7 months, when we packed her back to Scandinavia.

    [ Parent ]

    women can be bad to (3.33 / 3) (#33)
    by mpalczew on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 04:52:08 PM EST

    Women tend to spend countless hours in the bathroom, especially in the morning when you deperatly need to take a shit because you drank a cup of coffee.

    Women tend to fill the cupboard behind the mirror with all their shit.

    Women tend to put hair on the wall of a shower.  Forcing you to look at hairballs you don't want to touch in the morning.

    Women can also make lousy decorators.  Although they will make stuff look good, they will insist on removing your most comfortable easy chair out of the living room.  They also tend to forego utility only for the sake of what they see as prettiness.  

    Besides, what's wrong with neon signs and arcade machines(although Bud Light at least get a good beer sign).

    Women are cleaner though.  
    -- Death to all Fanatics!
    [ Parent ]

    yep (3.50 / 4) (#34)
    by eudas on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 06:02:07 PM EST

    don't forget the drainage plugs caused by all their additional hair going down the drain and clogging it up.

    women are just as slobby, no-dish-washing, clothes-on-the-floor, bed-not-made, miscellaneous-shit-covering-any-and-every-flat-surface as any guy. guys just get the rep because, when asked, we admit to it.

    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    [ Parent ]

    Bald women are supreme roommates (2.00 / 2) (#35)
    by xmarcus on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 06:30:38 PM EST

    I agree with your observations...bathroom durations and messiness can be caused by hair care.  

    I could have added baldness as an additional criteria but that would be pushing it.  

    Sinead O'Connor might be a good roomie candidate.

    [ Parent ]

    Sinead has issues. (2.00 / 3) (#39)
    by haflinger on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 09:28:21 AM EST

    I like her music, but I think she's a bit on the wacky side to live with. ;)

    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
    [ Parent ]
    I have lived with woman apartmentmates. (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by vectro on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 02:17:24 PM EST

    They are not all clean. Trust me.

    With one exception, all of my male housemates have been clean; with two exceptions, all of my female housemates have been quite dirty.

    Especially avoid housemates (especially women) who like to cook but not to clean.

    “The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
    [ Parent ]

    Gotta be careful... (3.66 / 3) (#28)
    by Erbo on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 12:58:47 PM EST

    If you advertise for potential roommates and turn somebody down for "the wrong reasons," the government could fine you:
    DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY WHOM YOU WANT FOR A ROOMMATE? In California, you apparently don't. On May 7, the California Fair Employment & Housing Commission penalized Melissa DeSantis $500 for inflicting "emotional distress" on a would-be roommate by allegedly telling him that "I don't really like black guys. I try to be fair and all, but they scare me." It also required her to pay him $240 in expenses -- and take "four hours of training on housing discrimination." (See Department of Fair Employment & Housing v. DeSantis, 2002 WL 1313078, Case Nos. H 9900 Q-0328-00-h, C 00-01-180, 02-12 (Cal. FEHC May 7, 2002).)
    Full story here; found via Jerry Pournelle's Web site.
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
    Roommates are the spawn of Satan. (3.25 / 4) (#29)
    by haflinger on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 01:31:06 PM EST

    Really. I used to have them. It's been three years now since the last time I had a roommate episode.

    It wasn't really by choice the last time (strange long story involving a crazy ex-girlfriend and cross-continental trips; I left without roommates, came back and had them, sigh). I'd been two years without roommates (excepting the crazy girlfriend, before she was an ex) and honestly... Life is so much better without them. It's an awful way to live.

    I don't intend to ever live with somebody I'm not in a relationship with, ever again.

    Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey

    Devil finds work for idle hands (4.50 / 6) (#30)
    by Alan Crowe on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 01:48:17 PM EST

    The criterion I've used very successfully is: does the person have a life?

    I don't mean a cool life that I envy, I just mean stuff they do that keeps them busy. For example if the candidate volunteers to help organise science fiction conventions, you might think "Trekkie, puke", but rent the room to them anyway. You know that they have got the idea of dividing up jobs and cooperating with other persons, and you know that they have taken that idea to a higher level than just doing what the boss says to keep their job. They will be OK.

    PhD students are an automatic yes, they have a thesis to fill up their time, and they are older, while having a convincing explanation of why they don't have the money to have a flat of their own.

    You get grief from sharing with persons with time to spare to give you grief. When a flat share goes badly it drains your time and energy. Look for persons with stuff of their own that they want to be getting on with. They won't want their time and energy drained on domestic trouble, so they will be committed to making the flatshare work. Those with time on their hands get bored. That means trouble. Rows over dirty dishes might be unpleasant, but for many, they are better than being bored. You don't want bored flatmates.

    Book readers are good. Book reading is quiet, and there are always more books, so they don't get bored.

    Quakers are good. I guess any one with a religion they have chosen/spiritual path will be a good bet, but based on a sample size of one, I'm not taking vegetarianism as a good sign.

    Forget that old adage (3.66 / 3) (#31)
    by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 03:43:34 PM EST

    Truth is you don't know who you're going to end up with if you just live with some random person or someone you don't know. I tend to think it's better to know someone well or have known them for a while before living with them first. I suspect the adage is true of people who are moving out of the house for the first time and won't know how to get by independantly in a social setting. I do admit, however, that the best roommate I've ever lived with was a random assignment. Perhaps there's more of a willingness to work together when two considerate yet total strangers end up living together. Planning to live with friends can lead to unfounded expectations and therefore be detrimental. It ultimately seems to rest upon the emotional intelligence of the people living together.

    Picking a Flatmate. (4.50 / 6) (#36)
    by Iarnulfr on Wed Jul 17, 2002 at 10:21:04 PM EST

    Well, after 8 years of shared accommodation, mostly as a student or itinerant professional, I have developed these rules:

    *Never flat with anyone _regularly_  taking any psychoactive substances stronger than alcohol or mild painkillers. (Especially if they are in the habit of washing said substance down with alcohol.)

    *Never flat with close friends. (People you flat with may become close friends, but setting out to flat with your friends in my experience leads to trouble.)

    *Older goths are ok, younger goths are trouble.

    *If Atheist, avoid those of strong religion, and vice versa.

    *If Vegetarian, flat with vegetarians.  If Omnivorous, flat with omnivores.

    *Teach them to cook if they have not learned yet.

    *PhD students or similar postgrads are ok, although we get a little strange around hand in date.

    *Stable couples are ok, until they start breeding.

    *In that vein, never start a relationship with your flatmate if there are more than just the two of you.  If one of your flatmates starts a relationship with one or more of your other flatmates, find a good bunker to hide in.
    Who'll stop the cavalry?

    sharing (3.66 / 3) (#37)
    by chia on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 05:24:47 AM EST

    sharing is always a trade-off, you're never going to find your soul mate moving in with you, so what needs to be decided is what to trade off.

    for instance dope-heads are normally very cool people to share with, if you are a sociable person, however they are also probably the most slobbish and always late with the rent.

    people who are ultra clean and organised are also normally rule-freaks and not much fun but at least the rent is always paid and they wont steal your cds, so again its a trade-off.

    Also the amount of friction is always driectly proportinal to the amount of space you have to live in, so dont move into a 2 bedroom flat if possible, houses are definately best, and try and get the biggest room in the house, you'll pay more but its most definatetly worth it.

    Lastly make sure you share at lesat once in your life, especially after universtiy or college (dorming is not the same as sharing) as you'll never learn as much about humans.

    Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. O Wilde
    and then after you pick the flatmate... (4.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Mister Smith on Thu Jul 18, 2002 at 08:33:11 AM EST

    You don't necessarily have to be a lawyer to draw up legal documents. With that in mind, I suggest a semi-formal "roommate agreement." It's saved my ass once or twice.

    Basically, just write down the obligations of each person sharing the residence. Not so much "stuff that has to be done" (i.e. Jake does the dishes), but the financial obligations. (i.e. Jake pays $250 a month, plus half the electric bill and his own long-distance calls). Add in a penalty clause if Jake decides to leave without giving, say, 30 days' notice (so you have time to find a replacement roommate, if you still want or need one).

    Be willing to follow up on said document if you get screwed (i.e. if Jake leaves and sticks you with $150 in calls to Miss Cleo -- this happened to me once). Small-claims court is usually sufficient. Hell, in my (fortunately, limited) experience, the subpoena that the defendant gets is usually enough to spook 'em, and you can get your money and your justice and cancel the court proceedings.

    Picking a flatmate | 42 comments (37 topical, 5 editorial, 3 hidden)
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