Important questions to ask when seeking a new flatmate or place to live.
Looking for a new flatmate or a new place to live? Be strategic and work out what questions you need to ask so that you can be sure you'll recognise your perfect match.
Develop a questionnaire. It sounds boring and officious but it's the only way of making sure you ask each person the same questions and can compare the answers.
How to develop a flatmate questionnaire
It doesn't have to be overly complex - decide on the top 15 or 20 questions you want to ask and leave a bit of space between each question so you can record the answers.
Aim for open ended questions, rather than those that can be answered in a word or two and you will get a much stronger sense of people's character.
When you are deciding what questions to ask, you need to cover off the big three: lifestyle, money and housework (cleaning is the topic of most household discontent!). Differences on one of these will be difficult, on all three - catastrophic!
- Why did you pick this area to live?
- Have you lived with flatmates before?
- Would you describe yourself as a morning or night person?
- Are you a stay at home type or do you like to go out a lot?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- Are you the kind of person who likes parties and entertaining?
- What's your most endearing/annoying habit?
- Do you think your lifestyle will fit in with the house?
- What are your future plans? How long do you think you might want to stay in the area? How quickly are you looking to move in?
- What will you bring with you?
- Can you supply references?
- How do you feel about housework rosters?
- Which chores do you like least/most?
- Would you be prepared to help out with someone else's chores occasionally (for example, when they are sick)?
- How do you feel about people who make excuses to get out of chores? Have you ever been guilty of this?
- Would you be prepared to pay for a cleaner?
Of course, if the property has a garden, don't forget to include a few gardening chores questions in your list.
- Where would you place rent in your list of financial priorities?
- Would you prefer to contribute to a food kitty or pay for your own food?
- Are you happy contributing to a household kitty to cover common essentials like teabags and toilet paper?
- Would you be willing to be responsible for household expenses, for example, by putting your name on utility bills?
- How would you feel if the rent or expenses increase while you are living here?
If they have lived in share accommodation before, it is a good idea to ask about their current routine for the payment of rent and bills. Also ask directly if they have ever had disputes over household finances. If the answer is yes, ask how the matter was resolved.
Setting up your interviews
Once you've agreed on your set of essential questions, you'll need to set up your interviews.
Establish a timetable. Ideally, all continuing members of the household will participate in the interviews. Divide the questions up among participants and nominate someone to record the answers.
Interviews will probably take up to an hour, but don't book them back to back as you will need some wiggle time between interviews to collect your thoughts. And you don't want prospective flatmates running into each other on your door step!
Consider meeting potential flatmates at a neutral location for your first meeting, like a local café. If they make the short list, invite them to inspect your home. You might also consider inviting a friend to come along - it's safer, will give you extra perspective and also means they can help ask some of the hard questions.