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How do I make myself the best flatmate?
May 18, 2007 4:40 AM   Subscribe

Flathunting: How do I convince people that I'm the perfect new flatmate for their established flat?

I've been hunting for a new flat since I moved out after a break up, and so far havent had perfect results. Most say they'll get back to me in a few days, and then I hear nothing.

I figure the reasons for this are... age (I'm only 21, but been out of home for 3 years), but possibly there is more... I'd say I'm fairly interesting, creative and sociable but I dont exactly extrude an enthusiastic out going nature, I'm pretty quiet but can still hold fairly decent conversation, so what do I need to say to convince people that I'm the perfect addition to their house? What's better, talking about yourself or asking people about themselves? (Not wanting to come through as self-involved).

This will be my 4th time looking for a flat (moving each time for various reasons), I should know how this is done, but this is the first time in a 'competitive' market.
posted by chrisbucks to Human Relations (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was in exactly the same situation just a few weeks ago but I finally signed a contract on wednesday.

I would go to meet potential housemates, the meetings would seem to go well... but then I'd find out they'd picked someone else. Eventually I met a group who were happy to take me on, and I think it was simply a case of my persistence paying off.

Don't get disillusioned and keep hunting! I know it is a difficult situation, in my case I didn't want to appear pushy and was trying to guess what type of people they were and so on. My strongest advice is to just be yourself, chat to them as if it was a social occasion rather than an interview process (unless they actively make it a formal event).

The old cliché again, "be yourself!"

and good luck.
posted by knapah at 4:55 AM on May 18, 2007


what do I need to say to convince people that I'm the perfect addition to their house?

I don't think there's one magic conversation or approach, since you don't know the existing dynamics of their group. Maybe they are looking for someone who's quiet but just-social-enough... only it just happens that they've already talked to two of them and one has a huge new stereo to contribute to the equation also.

Simply put, you can't convince people that you're perfect for them if you don't know what they want, and you only want to live with people who enjoy your company for you who already are, not who you pretended to be. If you were to present as very chatty and gregarious and then they picked you on that basis, you'd be doing a bait-and-switch and it could lead to flatmate-misery (I can see the subsequent AskMe post now...).

So, I'm seconding the old cliché of "be yourself," and just be persistent. The flat who wants exactly the kind of characteristics you offer is out there, and you'll find each other.

A mix of asking about them and sharing about yourself is best for practical reasons: because you need to learn more about each other.

You might up your odds by casting a wider net. I don't know how you're hunting (adverts? Craig's List? What's the practice where you are?) but maybe if you interview with more people you'll find your match faster.

I'd refrain from volunteering that X households have already turned you down, though. It'll give you the taint of rejection, and human nature will be for new prospects to pass as well, assuming that other people spotted something they didn't.
posted by pineapple at 5:12 AM on May 18, 2007


Just like a job interview, go into it with the intention of evaluating them. Is this the situation you're looking for? Is the house nice, in a good location, decent parking, nice room, non-sketchy/noisy neighbors? Will you be able to live with these people? Are there any problems or red flags you can see now that would make this potentially a crummy living situation for you?

Because you need to know all this. You don't want to move into place you're not going to be happy.

It's only human when job-hunting or dating or apartment-hunting to fall into a pick me! pick me! mindset -- the problem is, (a) That mindset prevents you from noticing the things you need to know to make a decision on picking them, and (b) people can tell, and it devalues you. As a nice guy who will pay his share of the rent and not create drama, you are the holy grail of roommates -- you have much more on the table than you think. You can afford to be picky. You want them to try to win you over -- and they will, if you stop trying to win them over.
posted by Methylviolet at 5:46 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


What Methylviolet said. Also:

Don't try too hard. That's really the biggest turnoff. Just be pleasant, interested in their lives, and offer some stuff about yourself.

Don't try to be their best friend, don't try adjust your description of yourself to match what you think they want to hear, don't get on your soapbox about any topic.
posted by desuetude at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2007


You sound like someone I'd probably put high on my list of potential housemates because you seem to mind your own business but still have the ability to carry on a decent conversation if someone should want to seek it. I can't speak for your potential flatmates, but if i were doing the interviewing, I would look for someone who is confident and has their own routine over someone who seemed over-eager about being my friend and socializing with the other flatmates. My best roommate experiences have always been with people who knew how to appropriately navigate that line between privacy and affability with the appropriate distance, and who had their own things going on. A roommate who seems too eager to please (and i've had a few) usually turns out to be a nightmare blend of immaturity, clinginess, and selfish inconsideration for others in a shared living situation. These people aren't necessarily looking for their new best friend. If they are, I think it's probably a bad situation to enter anyway. If you don't measure up, they will band against you as a clique, and believe me, that sucks.

Your young age may work against you, but if you present the aura of a self-assured person who has distinctive interests of their own, you may beat out a 30+ year old candidate who seems too interested in joining their club.

That is, if you were interviewing to be MY roommate.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:27 AM on May 18, 2007


PS: In my humble opinion, the ability to respect roommates' privacy is a HIGHLY underrated housemate trait.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:30 AM on May 18, 2007


If going into a flatshare with other men, taking a cute girl with you when you view works. Shallow. but true.
posted by Leon at 6:42 AM on May 18, 2007


You sound like someone I'd probably put high on my list of potential housemates because you seem to mind your own business but still have the ability to carry on a decent conversation if someone should want to seek it. I can't speak for your potential flatmates, but if i were doing the interviewing, I would look for someone who is confident and has their own routine over someone who seemed over-eager about being my friend and socializing with the other flatmates.
Speaking from personal experience, I would really agree with this. My current flatmate is moving out today, and while she's a lovely person, she doesn't have a lot of friends, much of a social life, or a lot of reason to leave the apartment. And it's irritating as fuck, despite her many wonderful qualities. (And I mean that sincerely. I like her a lot.) What I am looking for in a flatmate is someone who is looking for a flatmate, not a new best friend. I'm looking for someone responsible and easy to live with who also has his or her own life.
posted by craichead at 7:17 AM on May 18, 2007


When you’ve picked a flat you want to move into, pull out a roll of bills and say “I’d like to sign now. Do you have a written agreement already drawn up?”

Being organised and determined is a good sign in a roomie, and it establishes a good precedent.
posted by kika at 8:27 AM on May 18, 2007


Don't take it personally when they don't get back to you. It's a numbers game and it sounds like you just haven't bumped into a place that's a good fit for you yet. Keep looking. Flat hunting is one of those things where perseverance really does pay.
posted by normy at 1:17 PM on May 18, 2007


Whiteware. It's because you don't have whiteware. People are probably choosing the potential flattie with stuff over you. Get a playstation if you can't afford a fridge.

Are you letting people know that you are house-trained? They make be making assumptions about you because you're a 21 year old guy.

Auckland and Wellington are very competitve. The best way to get the inside edge is to have some peronsal connections. You are more likely to be successful if you are looking for a flat through friends, family and workmates. Let everyone you know that you are looking for a flat and what a great person you would be to live with.

(When you do find your flat, pre-empt this problem you're having now by approaching your flatmates and saying "Hey let's flat together next year.")

If you don't have any luck, you might want to consider establishing your own flat. That way you get to choose who you want to live with.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:57 PM on May 19, 2007


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