I live in a 4-bedroom flat in South London and due to a couple of them leaving at the same time, have had to find two new flatmates. People have to do this all the time, but it was actually really hard work and me my other flatmate had to devise a clear strategy to make it effective.
We thought about writing some process documents to go along with the strategy, but decided against it.
Joking aside, it surprised me how much thinking it did involve. Between the two of us we had heard of very different approaches people use to picking new flatmates:
Open House – You arrange just one day (or perhaps two) for viewings and get people to come round at any time. Current flatmates stay in their rooms and ‘interview’ potential people as they wander round the house and take notes.
Offsite Meeting – some people arrange to meet potential flatmates away from the flat or house itself and only if they like the person will they get to see the flat.
The Interview – this is the traditional classic approach, but can be carried out in different ways, formal and informal. My friend Marina has a clipboard and asks each potential person the same set of questions. The informal approach is to make it less of an interview and more of a chat with interview type questions casually thrown in.
Me and my flatmate discussed the above and we felt both the Open House and Offsite Meeting approaches were just weird and we were of the opinion that we didn’t want to have an interview environment and that choosing a flatmate is a two-way process, with them having to choose you too. So, we went with an informal interview approach.
As we had two rooms available, with one being a bit larger than the other, we knew one room would go before the other. We also wanted to make sure that the two new people got on with each other too so our strategy was to make sure the first person we got signed up would become part of the decision making team to pick the final person.
I think this strategy worked extremely well and had the bonus that the first person signed up felt very involved and part of the new house, reassuring her she made the right choice.
Showing people round the flat was exhausting though, I just don’t think I’m built to be nice to people for an extended period of time.
It felt like I was performing in a 30mins play 8 times an evening, asking and answering the same old questions, but making it seem fresh and spontaneous.
Although it was hard work, it was important to meet lots of people (we saw nearly 50 people) as we ended up with a situation where we had to decide between two really good people, either of whom we would have been happy to live with.
They’ve moved in this week and so far it all seems brilliant, but will have to wait a while to confirm if our strategy was a good one.
6 tips on how to choose a good flatmate – http://www.spareroom.co.uk/content/info-tenants/choosing-a-flatmate/
Choosing the Right Flatmate – http://hubpages.com/hub/Choosing-The-Right-Flatmate
How to choose the right flatmates – http://www.flatwithme.com.au/articles/choose-flatmate-article.html
5 Secrets to finding your perfect flatmate – http://www.squidoo.com/flatmate
Choosing a room-mate or flatmate – http://www.suite101.com/content/selecting-a-new-roommate-a45435