I’ve just finished a stressful week of housemate hunting. We had a room to fill at our place for the next 12 months and what should have been a fun process turned into a week of weird tensions and pointless arguments. Having had some time to look back on where my housemates and I went wrong (and right), I thought I’d share 5 things I learnt from the experience:
1. Write a descriptive ad
I wrote a very lengthy advert for Spareroom.co.uk and got well over 50 responses. Some people mentioned that we sounded better than other ads they had seen *top notch copywriting skills hey 😉 as we sounded like friendly, easygoing people. I tried to be as honest as possible about who we were and what we typically get up to as a group – which wasn’t “sharing the occasional glass of wine” (cringe) but more specific activities such as pub quizzes, BBQs, Sunday baking sessions, playing games and sports, eating out occasionally and slobbing out in front of the TV often. This attracted like-minded people and gave them something to talk to us about when they viewed.
2. Clarify what’s important to you
This is vital! If you’ve got a preference for a guy or a girl, or perhaps you are looking for someone who’s very independent, you need to talk to your other housemates first about what your most important factors are. For me? I wanted someone who (1 I would feel comfortable being around and not feel pressured to entertain, and (2 would fit in with my other friends but also have their own social life.
Talking about this in advance definitely made our search a smoother process, and it really helped to make the final decision easier – you need someone who ticks all the boxes!
3. Spend enough time getting to know them
This was a stumbling block for us. Due to the volume of responses received we decided to block out two evenings for viewings, giving each person around 15 minutes each. A lot of the people who came were either shy and clearly nervous or over-sharers with no filter! It was difficult to get to know the quieter people in such a short space of time, but we didn’t want to write them off just for being shy! If the boot was on the other foot, I’d imagine having 15 minutes to sell myself to potential housemates would be pretty daunting.
We ended up inviting our favourite two people over again to get to know them better and despite the potential awkwardness I’m so glad we did this. Learning more about them and their lifestyles helped us reach a decision we were all happy with. If I was housemate hunting again I’d invite fewer people and give them 30 minutes each minimum.
4. Don’t make it personal
When we were deciding who to pick, we’d just seen 8 people back to back and were completely drained. In typical fashion we each had our own favourite and couldn’t make a united decision. My housemate and I had the mindset of “I’m not backing down on this” so we ended up bickering and getting into an argument dragging in all sorts of personal issues. I HATE arguing with people so this left me upset and more confused than ever!!
After a couple of days cooling off / realising how stupid we’d been, we had a much more mature discussion and were finally able to see each others’ point of view.
5. Put the needs of the house before your own
When it comes down to it, whoever joins your house share has to ideally get on with everybody. If one or two of your other housemates are questioning someone that you really liked, it’s not worth fighting your case because you need to decide unanimously or not at all. A united house is a happy house!
I realize now how lucky we were to be choosing a housemate as opposed to flat hunting ourselves. Rooms in London are so competitive and I felt awful having to find faults in people who all seemed perfectly nice and keen to meet us. In the end we managed to find someone that we all clicked with and knew would fit in well. I’m so relieved our search is over and we can start getting excited about welcoming a new addition to our home!