(Do you know what questions you should be asking?)
The questions you ask to figure out if you can live with someone are key to your future happiness. You need to figure out if you are going to be compatible enough to be comfortable living together.
It is quite a leap from meeting someone for the first time to actually living with them. How do you make that leap? There is so much that is unknown. It is risky. You can manage the risk.
Your imagined and desired future of comfortable shared housing disappears as soon as you start worrying about the “what-if’s?”.
- “What if I discover I made a horrible mistake?”
- “What if the person pulls a con on me and says a whole bunch of stuff in the interview that isn’t true?”
- “What if I have to compromise my personal way of living so much that I’m not comfortable?”
What You Can Do to Feel Safe
The first thing many people think of when they want to feel safe about a potential housemate is doing a background check. And while it’s fine to go ahead and do one, a background check will only tell you if the person has a criminal history and what their credit is like. It doesn’t tell you if you can live with the person.
You need a different way to check if the person is compatible with you. Something like a pilot’s checklist. Every time a pilot prepares to fly a plane, the pilot goes through a checklist. Of course the pilot knows what she should be checking—she’s probably done it hundreds of times—but the checklist ensures that in the routine of the task she doesn’t skip even one item. The one that if missed might crash the plane.
Cover the Basics with the Compatibility Questions
The Compatibility Questions are not as long as the pilot’s checklist. They are much simpler. They focus on the aspects of sharing a home that are the nitty-gritty details, details that often get overlooked when you don’t have experience in sharing housing.
Ask a potential home-mate to get their own copy and fill out their answers. When you interview compare your answers using them as a starting point for a deeper conversation. This gives you a structure for your exploration of compatibility. It’s your guide to talking with a potential housemate about those things that might crash the relationship if you don’t have clarity and agreement about how you’d live together. This is not a natural conversation. (Flying a plane is not a natural task.) It’s a bit artificial and contrived. Slightly uncomfortable.
With the questionnaire you have a script and a method to follow – it will help you be thorough and complete in your exploration.
- Thirteen carefully-honed multiple-choice questions that will help you identify what’s important to you in sharing a home.
If you are like other people you’ll discover that it’s fun to compare answers and that the conversation moves easily.
Annamarie’s Interview Questions has been really helpful to me both in thinking through what’s really important to me and learning what to ask when I’m interviewing a potential housemate.
The survey makes a really good jumping off point to start the process, especially if both people have completed it. It used to be that I would just go on my gut- how we got along, what values you we might share, etc.-but I’ve learned that our household habits are what really makes the difference! And if I ever am the one seeking a shared house, I will bring all this knowledge with me too!—Catherine Skove
Have you considered sharing housing but got stopped by apprehension, doubting that you could do it successfully?