How do you know that living with a housemate won’t be a disaster?
(How do you screen a potential home-mate for compatibility?)
Finding a compatible home-mate can feel like a daunting task. There is so much that is unknown. It feels risky and scary. 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?”
It’s okay to feel worried about all this. It’s natural. Home is sanctuary. Home is the place where you can be yourself. As Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” You have your own personal routines, style and habits. You have your way of living at home.
I know this. I get it, it’s a really strange idea to live with someone you don’t yet know. Especially if you’ve never done it. I’ve created the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment Toolkit to be your road to safety.
There are so many good reasons to share your housing. You might be thinking about the financial benefits. They can be significant. Housing is so expensive. For those who are on small and limited incomes the extra money can be the difference between anxiety and comfort. For others, the extra money allows for treats and luxuries—from a regular massage to a dream vacation. An extra $500 a month turns into an additional $6,000 a year. That’s significant for most people.
Beyond the money, another person around the home is another person to help with tasks and in emergencies. This is help people in couples or families take for granted. But the person who lives alone has to do it all.
Companionship is the reason why people who start living in shared housing continue to do it. They discover that they like the spontaneous social connection, the easy chats possible. It’s really comforting to have a good housemate around.
The Right Way 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.
Compatibility Assessment: Your Checklist
The “Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment” is not as long as the pilot’s checklist. It’s much simpler. It focuses 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. It’s a tool for you to use at two different stages in your home-mate search. In the first stage it will help you assess what is really important to you in how you live. The second stage is to use your answers in the interviewing process.
How The Assessment Works
The Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment is on-line. You answer the questions and then your results are emailed to you. At first that will not seem like a big deal—after all you know who you are, right?
The real power of the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment comes in comparing your answers with a potential home-mate. For that reason this package comes with two access tokens you can give to two other people to have them do their own home-mate compatibility assessment. One is for you to use with a friend to try it out and practice. The second is for an actual interview. (Yes, you can buy more if you want them.)
The Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment offers a structure for your exploration of compatibility with a potential home-mate. 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 questions that will help you identify what’s important to you in sharing a home.
- Your own answers delivered in email for you to print and use in screening housemates in a comfortable conversation.
- Open comments section for you to note any special interests or concerns so that you don’t forget to consider them.
Annamarie’s Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment 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 house mate.
Right now I own my own home and hope to find 2 or even 3 people to live with me next summer and I feel really prepared to not only write a better ad based on some of the things that are deal breakers for me in the survey, but also how to get to the point quicker about what matters in terms of household compatibility.
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
How many times have you considered sharing housing but got stopped by apprehension, doubting that you could do it successfully?
The Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment
An easy to use on-line multiple-choice form. The thirteen questions touch on the critical areas in which you must be compatible. Your answers come to you in an email which you can then print out to have in hand or keep in electronic form. With the Compatibility Assessment in hand you will be able to determine your direction and set out on the right course.
What You Need to Talk About When Interviewing a Potential Home-Mate
What You Need to Talk About When Interviewing a Potential Home-Mate is a twenty-eight page booklet (PDF) that contains information about how and when to use your results from the Compatibility Assessment. Each of the items on the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment represents a dimension of compatible living. The booklet discusses each of these dimensions, giving the reader ideas for what should be considered in an interview. In addition to the thirteen topics of the Compatibility Assessment, the guide also discusses two essential aspects of a good home-mate relationship, tasks and bills. These two, “tasks” and “bills” are not questions of compatibility, and therefore aren’t in the assessment, but must be discussed. You will learn how to address these two areas.
With advice on how to conduct this conversation and down-to-earth sense, the guide is a valuable source of light and insight into your search process.
Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment Map
The map visually displays the steps of the process so that you can see it at a glance where the compatibility assessment fits once you have started the search process. This conversation happens after you have already made sure the the person meets your must-have’s and can’t live withs.
The map also shows clearly the five places in the process where either party may decide not to continue. Yes, there are five times you can say “no” !
You will receive two access tokens to the questionnaire. In this way you can ask two other people to take the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment for free. You will be sent a code that can be used twice to gain access to Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment page.
In your search process, when you have a really possible candidate whom you are going to meet you need to figure out if you are compatible. You can give a potential home-mate an access token so that person can take the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment. She will get her answers in email and can bring her answers to the interview. Then you can discuss your answers and explore whether or not you would be compatible as home-mates. In the Regular package you get two access tokens. One is for practicing with a friend using the assessment.
Three additional access tokens that you can give to three additional people whom you want to take the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment. You will have a total of five access tokens to distribute.
“Screening for Gold” is a short article that summarizes the search process. It is a PDF download that you can read on screen or print out.
“Five Essential Questions You Must Ask when Interviewing A Potential Home-mate to Ensure Your Comfort and Safety” is also a PDF you can download for reading on screen or printing out. Two of these questions are about references.
The questionnaire was helpful to me in that it forced me to be entirely truthful, which turned out to be quite enlightening. And, the questionnaire is such a good one that a person should suggest that any potential home mate fill one out as well, not by forcing them to do it, but by offering the option. If the potential home-mate declined to complete it, well, that would certainly be revelatory! Tools like this one are what make the process of finding the “right one” less fraught with uncertainty, or fear, or dread, or whatever. —Nancy Barber
At a Glance
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I wish I could guarantee that this process would absolutely 100% find you the perfect home-mate. Well, that’s unrealistic. I can give you a tool but you have to use it. I’m confident that if you use it, you will gain insight and perspective on yourself and on the person you are interviewing. If you are dissatisfied with the Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment after trying out the tool with another person, I’ll be happy to refund your investment.
I will always have your answers to the questionnaire stored on this website so that should you lose them, you can ask to have them resent to you. The gift certificates do not expire and you can also ask to have them reissued to you.
If you have any questions or concerns about this, I’ll be happy to answer them. Please fill out the form below.