Twelve (12) questions to ask a potential housemate (adapted from www.caring.com)
For house orientation meeting developing house agreements & / or interviewing potential housemates. The questions are for everyone’s response. This allows everyone to participate and ensures every ones’ perspective is aired and allows everyone to form an opinion about whether this is a fit or not.
Are you looking for company?
Before you meet with the candidate, answer this question yourself. You need to be clear from the start whether you want to be friends with a housemate or to keep your distance. This will help you choose others who feels the same way.
What time do you turn in?
Do you need a quiet house after 10 p.m. or are you insomniacs who wander the house half the night? Is the housemate a nurse who will sometimes work the night shift? Does that matter to you? It’s often wise to establish quiet hours everyone can agree to
What’s your definition of “clean”?
Everyone has his own idea about what constitutes a clean house. Talk out whether the housemate will take turns cleaning the house or whether each person will have specific jobs they’re responsible for. When possible, simplify things by tacking $50 onto the costs and hiring a regular cleaning service.
Even with a cleaning service, minor offenses can arise just in day-to-day tidying, so anything you feel strongly about should be stated up front. Is it OK to leave dishes on the drying rack overnight or do they need to be put away immediately? Do they want the shower wiped down each morning?
Do you ever work from home?
Some people want a housemate who heads out in the morning and doesn’t come back until evening so they can have the house to themselves during the day. But as working remotely becomes more and more common, this is a good question to clear up right away.
If the housemate is a grad student, be sure to ask whether they’ll be studying on campus or at home. What schedule will they keep? Make sure it’s mutually acceptable.
Do you expect to have any overnight guests?
This one’s a biggie. How do you feel about a housemate having an overnight guest? If a housemate’s guests start showing up regularly, you may feel outnumbered in the common areas — like it’s not your home anymore.
Or maybe you would object to having an unmarried couple spending the night in your home. If a housemate expects to have overnight guests on a regular basis and you aren’t outright opposed to it, they could increase the expenses a bit to accommodate the imposition. Just be clear up front.
Similarly, is it OK if a housemate’s friends come over for dinner? Coffee? Just to meet up and leave? Or are you uncomfortable having anyone else in the house? If your preferences and a housemate’s needs are incompatible, it’s probably not a match. Write whatever is agreed upon into your agreement.
How much do you plan to cook? And do we want to eat meals together and if so how often? How will cost of food be shared?
Sharing a kitchen is often a bone of contention, particularly with older women. Some housemates may duck into the kitchen just long enough to pour a bowl of cereal or microwave a frozen entrée. But others like to cook elaborate meals. Is that OK? Will the housemate be bringing in a lot of kitchen appliances or dishes? Is there room? Or will they share what’s already in the cupboards? Will they be expected to have all their own spices and staples?
What about sharing meals and food? Sharing meals is one of the greatest social activities you can do together. How often might this happen and who cooks?
How do you feel about sharing a bathroom?
If your home has enough bathrooms, it’s preferable to make sure the housemate has their own. This avoids the need to coordinate morning and bedtime schedules and gives everyone a more comfortable level of privacy. As with bed linens, specify how towels and washcloths will be provided.
How much stuff do you have?
Stuff and storage of stuff can be a bone of contention. Housemates may need to find offsite storage if they have a lot of stuff. You don’t want to be stuck with a huge mess when a housemate moves on.
Do you need Internet access?
Internet access is a real draw for many housemates. But while you may be content with a dial-up connection that lets them check e-mail twice a week, a grad student may be thinking more along the lines of WiFi or a dedicated DSL line. If you have only a dial-up connection, the housemate’s Internet use may tie it up too much. So be sure to talk this out in detail. Some housemates will be willing to install a second line — a gift they’ll leave to you when they go.
Do you drink?
What’s the house policy on alcohol? Are you OK with social drinking? Is the housemate, if you are the ones who drink? Sometimes a recovering alcoholic won’t want to live with someone who has any booze in the house at all.
My paper towels or yours?
A roll of toilet paper may seem too trivial for words, but who buys it is exactly the sort of domestic misunderstanding that can sour a home-sharing relationship. Establish who buys the paper products, the detergent, the cleaning supplies. If the housemate has their own bathroom, do they provide what’s in there while you keep the kitchen supplied? Be clear and keep it simple so there’s no misunderstanding.
Do you have a car?
If so, is there enough room for it? If not, is street parking legal on your block or will the housemates have to pay a fee for a residential parking permit? Will you and the housemate need to toggle cars in the driveway? If so, establish a system for keeping both car keys in a basket and talk it over with everyone involved
Are you generally sociable and friendly?
What signs do we need to let each other know when we need some space? Is it okay to ask for space?