The cost of living, a somewhat unwelcoming job market, that pesky little problem of obtaining credit and ridiculously high house prices, means many people in their thirties are having to resort to living a lifestyle more like when they were in their late teens.
Everyday we are bombarded with the scary sounding truths: In 2011, 17 per cent of 18-24 year olds lived in a home that they owned whereas in the early 1990s, this was more than 30 per cent. In 2012, a third of tenants in the south-east and London were paying more than 50% of their take-home pay to landlords, that’s just crazy talk. And then you even read about couples who break up and choose hell with each other over financial ruin (they just can’t afford separate rents).
But here’s what’s really frightening, some of those people who have been degraded down the disposable-income ladder, are vying to be your flatmate – and a lot of them ARE personally frightening. Ok, let’s forget the potential serial killers and all that – they are truly few and far between. We’re talking about the frightening, manky, manic, obsessive freaks who seem to be good to be true at first and end up in your space.
Sharing your living space with someone you don’t know can be a harrowing experience. It’s not like it is always easy to get along perfectly with everyone. Some people are not at all suited to sharing a living space, unable to realize that the world does not revolve around them. It’s not always all bad news though. There really are some potential great flatmates out there, but finding them can often result in a diabolical and often frightening search.
I know that more than one person reading this is currently having a flatmate crisis. Maybe they eat all of your food. Perhaps they are nothing at all like the “I like to keep my space clean” kind of person that they put in their ad. But just about everyone has to share a living space at some point, be it with family or flatmates.
Probably some of you have had a flatmate who thought he or she knew just about everything…maybe they were waaaayyy too into ’80s music and didn’t know what those cleaning products under the sink were meant for. Then you have the ones that are always upset, perpetually breaking up, or always bringing home the wrong person.
Living with some random always involves compromise and respecting (sometimes vastly) different points of view. Having a flatmate also helps you find creative ways to solve problems, such as how to convince them that someone broke in and stole nothing at all except his Air Supply CD collection. “Really they did, unbelievable…AND they also stole your set of mini-bongos, I hope you’re insured.”
One of the most important things about sharing your space is compatibility and getting to know your potential new flatmate. It is a good idea to have a list of questions you want to ask anyone who might be moving in, or whose house you may be moving into. It’s a good way of finding out what you are getting yourself into.
Here’s a questionnaire for anyone currently seeking a new flatmate. Ask them to fill it out and then you can and decide where you’re similar, where you’re different and how many more locks you might need on your bedroom door:
My favorite hobbies include _____
A. playing sports
B. listening to music
C. art and photography of nude models in our living room, or perhaps in your bedroom because the light is better there
I like to have friends visit _____
A. only occasionally
C. to help them attach a face to the stories I tell them about you
Overnight guests _____
A. are fine with me, especially if they bring lots of food
B. must sign a liability waiver
C. are expected to kindly direct me back to my room if I end up in their bed after I come home drunk
My girlfriend/boyfriend will _____
A. only stay over if everyone is cool with it
B. keep a toothbrush in the bathroom and treat the house as a second home
C. often walk naked and drunk into other people’s rooms mistaking it for the toilet
My pet peeves include _____
A. people who don’t do their share of household chores
B. people who laugh loudly for the sole purpose of getting me to say, “What’s so funny?”
C. all the people who tell me that I’m “uppity” and “condescending” just because they are stupid and jealous and beneath me
My belongings can be borrowed _____
A. at any time
B. in most cases, as long as you ask me first
C. at your own risk, because I am watching and I will get you when you’re not looking
To avoid potential problems, flatmates should _____
A. discuss what bothers them and why
B. paint a line in the middle of the house and pick a side
C. arm themselves
Thoughts on Chores (ie: cleaning of common spaces, taking out the trash) Please choose 1
A) Are you kidding me? What, do I live with my parents? I am not interested in helping
B) I hate it, but I’ll do it
C) I don’t mind it
D) Occasionally I forget but I have good intentions and don’t mind a reminder
E) I like a clean space but can we just pay someone to do it?
Please indicate which (if any) of the following activities might occupy your time in the residence:
A. Repeatedly encouraging flatmates to sign up for an exciting financial opportunity that is absolutely, positively, probably not a pyramid scheme.
B. Breaking down and crying for no apparent reason, screaming “Why God why?” and running into the bathroom with the T.V.remote.
C. Telling a flatmate “Don’t make me angry … you wouldn’t want to see me when I’m angry.”
D. Ordering a pizza to share and then suddenly not having any money because of the exciting financial opportunity, which should not be discussed because it’s a sensitive topic
How do you deal with stress?
A. I go for a long walk in the park
B. I steal things from the local corner store
C. I have an imaginary friend called Adam
There are no right or wrong answers to these, it really depends on your state of mind and take on things. Hopefully this helps you find the perfect flatmate and helps avoid the space invaders.
Spun by Pan (DJ) and visualized by Kristina (VJ).