When you have just arrived in a new city, finding the perfect flatshare is your first biggest task. What makes finding a great flatmate so difficult?
If you’re moving out for the first time, whether it is that you’re venturing off to uni, a new town for work or simply deciding to leave home and have embarked upon renting your first property – as if that isn’t daunting enough, we often have to face the feat of scouring the internet for a flatmate.
Although the experience of finally leaving home and diving in to further freedoms is immensely fun and highly exciting, it fails to completely wipe out the little voice at the back of your head that, against all odds, manages to confidently argue that your potential flatmates, the young smiley girl who volunteers at a soup kitchen or the shy boy with a joint degree, have underlying tendencies that match that of a serial killer.
However accustomed and angelic these contenders for the spare bedroom are, the worry still exists and teases and plays with you throughout the entirety of the flatmate hunt. All kinds of weird and wonderful people are searching for rooms to rent in London. This is the most irrational and ridiculous fear, but you just can’t stop yourself from pondering; will you be sleeping in the same house as a murderer? Will you be living with a criminal?
Hollywood at Home
You wonder whether you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, shaking because you heard them crawl out of bed and tiptoe downstairs to retrieve a midnight snack from the fridge. You reckon you’ll take down a bat and your phone ready for a Hollywood thriller style action sequence, only to find them sat quietly at the dining table, with a bowl of cornflakes and a magazine. You consequently make the awkward journey back up to bed thinking what a fool you’ve been and how you should stop watching Broadchurch, The Tunnel or any creepy American movie where the innocent roommate ends up being an identity stealing violent psychopath. You’re flatsharing in London, not starring in Split…
Back to Reality
Perhaps you’ll look past the potential danger of your flatmate and assess that they are much more likely to be about as ordinary and civilised as yourself. However, your logic and perspective allows you to be anxious about your future flatmate having typically undesirable traits, like having no willingness to cooperate with the flat commandments. This analytical flat sharer will consider everything in a disciplined and knowledgeable manner and will understand the likely difficulties of living with a stranger and the struggles that they may encounter.
Bills, Bills, Bills…
Firstly, they highlight the potential issue of not finding a flatmate in the first place. This is particularly worrying as it makes it more expensive to pay individual shares as there is no one to subsidise the total cost. Having rented my first property this past year I remember my flatmate Chloe and I were very concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find a flatmate to subsidise our costs, this put our tenancy in uncertainty.
You may also worry that this new flatmate will be a lazy and messy slob, or a nuisance of some sort. You fear that eventually one day things will start to go missing and you’ll encounter a house thief. You’ll go to finish your bar of chocolate that you left neatly packaged in the fridge, but you find that it has already been eaten and the wrapper discarded at the top of the bin.
Next thing you know a whole ready meal has gone missing. You begin to worry that things will get more sinister, perhaps personal possessions will also be lost. You worry about the unreliability of this individual and begin to suspect that they aren’t trustworthy, perhaps they will cause pending financial disruption and pay their share of the rent late, perhaps they will lose track of accounts and not pay their deposit, and just about spread an epidemic of disorganisation over the whole house.
Following that, there’s always the fear of encountering, and eventually admitting, as the final flatmate of your home, the individual that has a herd of guests over every night. With their charm and charisma they seem appealing, at first you think the house will adopt a warmer, livelier and more social atmosphere, but then after watching dozens of strangers emerge from the front door at 3am whilst you’re struggling to sleep due to their booming speakers, you realise that your new flatmate has created an impromptu DSTRKT in your living room, without any consent or notice. Sometimes it can be hard to sort out these sorts of issues with your flatmate.
You think back to your first impression of them and realise why they have so many friends in the first place — suddenly the penny drops. They continue to use your shared space as their social space and because of the lack of communication about this sudden takeover you feel too awkward to mention it or bring it up in a flat meeting, so you retreat to social isolation whilst this guy has gained the new territory that is the hallway as well. Next thing you know these so called ‘friends’ start sleeping over and the flat becomes a hostel.
Alternatively, the complete opposite is often feared; as we move out and seek new experiences it can be a little disappointing when the potential new flatmate is completely antisocial and never seems to leave their room. The only occasion that they can be seen is when they do the walk of shame to the kitchen with a pile of breakfast bowls that they’d hoarded in their room for the past week — on a good day you’ll get a hallway conversation.
Other than that, you never really get to know this person and that can raise reasonable anxieties in itself.
Overall, seeking a flatmate is a bit like picking from a lucky dip, you never truly know what you are going to get and people do surprise you. You’ll find that living with someone gives you a whole new perspective on them as a person. Or you could always just live alone! But that’s never as fun.
Although nerve-wracking, it is an amazing experience to meet new people and form new bonds, and finding a flatmate is definitely a lot more rewarding than you’d expect!