“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
It’s hell to live with someone who doesn’t respect your space, who uses your things without permission, who eats your food, who doesn’t pay the bills, who has a different routine than you. Or, even more simply, someone you just don’t like.
One route to this hellacious situation is when you end up with a housemate who is your housemate’s friend, family, or significant other.
“That solves our problem,” you exclaim when your housemate tells you about this great guy she knows who needs a place to live. “Sure,” you say, when your fabulous housemate tells you his cousin needs a place to stay when he moves to your town. “Congrats!” you enthuse when your glowing housemate confides in you about her new boyfriend currently asleep in her bed.
These are all good intentions. They are hopeful and charitable. And maybe everything works out just fine. But you haven’t selected this housemate, and that lack of intentional screening could trip you up in the long run. The new housemate may not be a good fit for you.
What’s missing is an interview process. While you can be a bit more casual than when interviewing a stranger, it’s still a good idea to make sure you have similar expectations for what sharing a home means. All of you should have the conversation together. You need to talk about routines, cleanliness, neatness, noise, guests, and bills. You might each do this checklist and compare results.
The “great guy” may be great at a party but a lousy housekeeper. He may love the music you hate. He might love to cook foods that make you nauseous. Make sure he’s a suitable match before he moves in.
Family Moving to the Area
Does the cousin just need a place to stay? Or is she looking for a job as well? Does she have the means to pay her portion of the bills? Even if you don’t charge rent, how do you feel about subsidizing her heat, electricity, hot water, and internet access? How long might she stay with you? Know clearly upfront what the arrangement is.
The new significant other becomes a quasi-housemate when he has been around the house for four days. At that point you need to have a conversation with your housemate. The new person is occupying space and using the home. How does his presence change how you use the common areas most especially the kitchen? Raising the issue with your housemate before it becomes critical can help her make adjustments. Usually this means spending more time at his home. But if you don’t say something, she’ll assume it’s okay. If he starts living with you on a full-time basis, he needs to help pay the bills.
Pay attention to your gut instincts. The new housemate who comes to your home through your housemate could be an absolutely fabulous housemate for you. It happens. Just be careful before the person moves in. Make sure you have had a chance to say “yes” to the person with whom you will be living.