Only girl in sharehouse full of boys?
April 5, 2016 2:02 PM   Subscribe

So. My application for a place has been approved but the agent conveniently decided only to tell me now that I'd be the only girl with 3 other boys (I asked at inspection who the other housemates were and she said they were students so I assumed it was mixed). The house was actually very neat and clean when I inspected, and my room is locked. I asked if I could meet the others and the agent said that was impossible because 2 of the 3 are rarely home. 2 of the boys are students with part-time jobs, and the third is fulltime in IT. Take the risk and move in, or not?

There's also more to this story. I've been house hunting for 5 weeks now and am wearing out the welcome with the friends I'm staying with on both ends (they don't want me here and I don't want to be here either). I've just moved from interstate so only know 3 people here and the other 2 are not in a position to put me up. I was considering lying and saying I'd gotten a place and then going to a backpackers to finish out the rest of my search but the friends I'm staying with would insist to give me a lift and they would realise.

My options now are either to:

1. Take this place (btw it's 6 months so I'm locked in. I wouldn't have minded if it was month to month, or even possibly 3 months, but 6 months is just a bit too long for my liking with such little info)
2. Apply for another place where the agent reacted really coldly when I asked her if she had received my email with questions about how to fill out the application form (the bond wasn't clear from the ad, could I have a copy of the rental agreement as stated in the application form, so not just stupid questions)(and I sent it the Sunday and when I rang it was 4pm on the Mon so it wasn't an unreasonable length of time to respond I would've thought)
3. Forget the above and keep applying but have to up my budget to well beyond 30% of my income, and obviously with no guarantee of when this will end

So essentially I'm getting desperate but I do not want to do it at the expense of my safety. One of my friends whose advice has always been sound, essentially asked, "would the locked room be safe enough for you?" and I honestly have not been able to answer that, which makes me think it might be a holdover from being raised to think boys are stranger danger.

My other concern is that the agent group had very mixed reviews online (1 or 5 stars, and from the lot--landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers), but no particular reviews for this office I'm dealing with, but after this rather large omission, I'm wondering if that's too much of a (certain) red flag. When I initially found these reviews (prior to applying), I reasoned that a bad real estate agent would only matter if a) repairs were needed, which the house looking like it's been renovated within the last 2-3 years, shouldn't be an issue, or b) getting my bond back which taking good photos and being really thorough with the condition report should mitigate that. But with such a glaring omission, I'm wondering if that's also too big a risk to take.

tldr:

1. Anyone had any experiences being the only girl in a house full of boys?
2. Is it too much of a risk being the only girl moving into a house full of boys I won't be able to meet beforehand? Would my bedroom being locked be enough of a safety measure? (the lease is between myself and the landlord for the room, so no issues with joint lease for the whole house or anything like that)
3. Is the agent failing to tell me I'd be the only girl in a house of full boys until the last minute too big of a red flag on them?

Thanks
posted by glache to Home & Garden (33 answers total)
 
My other concern is that the agent group had very mixed reviews online

This is the red flag, not the whole boy/girl issue. The fact that you "cannot meet" with the people who live there, and that your agent is shady as all get out is why you should not give these people money.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:04 PM on April 5, 2016 [73 favorites]


Yeah it's ridiculous to move into a house without meeting the people first, regardless of gender of the people. The agent sounds mad shady. If you can't meet with people before living with them, don't move in.
posted by brainmouse at 2:05 PM on April 5, 2016 [40 favorites]


I asked if I could meet the others and the agent said that was impossible because 2 of the 3 are rarely home.

I seem to be abnormally comfortable hanging out as the only woman in a group of men. But only if it is actually a group and not a single lone guy who might rape me with no witnesses.

Please note that if 2 of the 3 are rarely there, there will be no group of men. To my mind, being routinely alone with a man I have never met is more dangerous than routinely spending time with three men I have never met.
posted by Michele in California at 2:08 PM on April 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


2. Is it too much of a risk being the only girl moving into a house full of boys I won't be able to meet beforehand?

I'm a guy. I would never, ever, ever move into a place where I could not meet the roommates beforehand. This is supposed to be your home for the next six months, and you don't know whom you're going to be living with?

HELL NO.

The agent's behavior here is shady as hell and I'd consider it a huge red flag.

Would my bedroom being locked be enough of a safety measure?

Maybe? Look, a determined person can always kick a door in. Is it likely you'll need to worry about whether your door is secure from your roommates? I'd like to think not.

If your roommates turn out to be creeps, would you be comfortable locking yourself in the room whenever you're in the house? I'm guessing you'll still have to share a bathroom and kitchen with them, no?

3. Is the agent failing to tell me I'd be the only girl in a house of full boys until the last minute too big of a red flag on them?

YES.
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on April 5, 2016 [23 favorites]


fwiw, your reasons for not applying to (2) (first list) seem pretty minimal.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:11 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I stopped reading at 'wouldn't be able to meet the other roommates.'

Perhaps find a motel to stay at for now, but no. Just no.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:14 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


You use the terms "girls" and "boys". How old is everyone? Assuming you're an adult, and they're adults of a similar age and lifestyle* to you, I don't see any problem with sharing an apartment with people who aren't the same gender as you. You're all adults here.

I'm female, grew up with brothers, and have had male roommates my entire adult life with no problems. Men make up 50% of humanity and aren't inherently evil or dangerous.

On the other hand I wouldn't move into any living situation where I hadn't met any of the people sharing my living quarters. But maybe where you live that's not expected? YMMV on that I suppose. What would happen if you moved in and met your new roommates (of ANY gender) and didn't get along or feel safe there? Would the lease allow you to move out? If you take this place and don't like your roommates, are you stuck for a year or more? Is there some kind of grace period to change your mind?

*For example I'd be less comfortable moving in with a 50 year old man, someone in a gang rehab program, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on April 5, 2016 [15 favorites]


Yeah, this is not a gender issue. My current roommate is a man. My boyfriend has lived with two other male roommates and one female for the last year and a half with no issues outside of the standard roommate stuff.

The issue is you're not meeting them before and that your agent seems shady.
posted by Marinara at 2:17 PM on April 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


It's not remotely unreasonable to insist on meeting the people you're signing a contract to live with. If I lived there, I'd insist on meeting you before you moved in too, because that goes both ways. It's not that you can truly assess a person's entire character in a brief meeting, but at least you can get a general feel for who they are and what their preferences are in terms of cleanliness, household chores, dealing with shared expenses, interacting vs leaving each other alone, etc...
posted by zachlipton at 2:19 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Don't! I rented a room from a landlord who had two rooms in a suite once. He assured me the other tenant was a "very nice girl" and said how she'd come with her mom from out of province to rent the place. She was away with her mom for the weekend. She did turn out to be a pretty cool person, but she was a drug addict with other serious problems and smoked so much that our apartment was a total haze of smoke and there were bags of pot everywhere. I imagine she did some low level dealing too. I'm pretty flexible, but that stressed me out and the smoke and pot and other drugs and stoned friends and guys she met at the bar got to be too much. The landlord didn't tell me she smoked and had negotiated with him - I should have asked, but I thought he would have told me when I said I didn't smoke. I also didn't know that he'd told her he didn't consider pot a drug when he had told me no drugs. I was with my parents when I rented and they were not remotely capable of helping me choose a roommate and I was only 19 and too young to figure out the nuances of all this. If I'd met her, I think I might have been able to figure some of this out. And, yet, we ended up being pretty good friends and I have fond memories of her before her addiction spiralled out of control a few months later.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 2:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


It is 100% not ok to ask you to sign an agreement to live with people who you haven't met (and this also means that people already living in the house have no veto rights over people moving in, otherwise the people already living there would have gotten to meet you.)

The fact that the other tenants are guys wouldn't in itself faze me. But there are all kinds of people, and only some of them - of any sex - are people I'd feel safe and ok sharing space with. No, a locked bedroom is not enough! You need to feel safe and clean in your shared spaces as well, and you need to meet people to assess if they're folks you're ok sharing those spaces with.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:25 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


It has been my experience that this exact situation - a shared apartment where housemates are selected by a landlord or agent and do not meet other housemates beforehand - tends to select for total weirdos who cannot pass a housemate interview. The landlord picks people who are likely to pay their rent on time and not damage the place, but they're not concerned with personalities. Most people care about who they'll be living with, so people who are willing to accept this arrangement often turn out to be recluses and/or desperate (as you're finding out). I know that sounds really judgmental, and I would never make such a leap in assumptions in a situation where the stakes were lower (e.g. I wouldn't, like, shun such a person socially), but when it comes to choosing a place to live, why take the risk?

In the same vein, I don't think that living with three male housemates is automatically a safety risk, but I think you should listen to your own instincts and comfort zone, and not what people here think. If you're not comfortable with it, then don't do it. You deserve to feel comfortable and safe in your own home.
posted by sunset in snow country at 2:49 PM on April 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


I have lived in a house as the only woman with 5 men. I never felt unsafe, nor did I lock the door to my room on a regular basis, so that might suggest my concerns about these things are wildly different than yours.

I had met only the roommate who actually owned the house, and one other roommate who happened to wander through the living room while I was viewing the place, before moving in, but I could have met the others if I wanted to wait around to do it. That's the part of your description I find distressing, not the mere fact of living with men.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:02 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Another woman who has been the sole female in a house of boys here to say that there is nothing wrong with that setup, as long as the housemates are good. (I. E. not creepy/violent/kleptomanical, and preferably don't hang out with people - of either gender - who are)

But the only way to hope to get a sense of that is to meet at least one of them first.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:10 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have been the only woman living with three guys, and it wouldn't really cross my mind to think of that as a deal breaker, but I would call it a deal breaker to move in with people I had never met, male or female.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:11 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anyone had any experiences being the only girl in a house full of boys

I was the only woman living with two men, and it was fine. There's nothing inherently bad about the situation. But if you're not comfortable living with men that is also fine, and you shouldn't do it if you don't want to -- you don't have to justify it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:11 PM on April 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


It's been my experience that living with men is much easier than living with women. They will do anything for you and, if you cook, they will treat you like a queen. If you have a flat tire in the middle of the night, they will come and get you. Living with men means that no one will mess with you, except for their girlfriends, who will see you as a threat and try and kill you in your sleep but, you will have a lock on your door.

You have to meet these guys first. At the very least, get their names, call them, and cyber stalk them. You cannot commit to 6 months with people you know nothing about.

If you do move in, keep your distance at first. Don't try to be one of the guys. Get to know them before allowing them into your life. And that is good advice for any roommate situation.
posted by myselfasme at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2016


I have been a woman living with multiple men and no women. I've also moved into an apartment where I hadn't met any or my roommates nor seen the apartment before time (my only contact was with the roommate who was moving out/whom I was replacing).

I wouldn't worry about living with men. And moving into a place I hadn't seen or met anyone worked out fine, but I guess it's possible it could have gone poorly. I did learn about the roommates before hand.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry about living with men, but given that you are wary, I don't think you should move in. If you're not going to be comfortable, you're not going to be comfortable. Don't move in somewhere where you're not comfortable, even if other people would be comfortable with it (which as you can see, lots of people wouldn't be).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2016


I have lived with male roommates with no issues, BUT I would never live with any roommates without getting the opportunity to meet them first, regardless of gender. There is just no way to know whether they are creepy, give you a bad vibe, are rude, etc. without having some type of conversation first. Moving in with strangers is enough of a risk in terms of not knowing what you're going to get even with a standard meet-and-greet/interview. This is just nuts, and I would definitely not go for it. It's six months of your life, and having a terrible roommate can make life pretty miserable even if the person is not dangerous, and regardless of whether you can lock the door.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:21 PM on April 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was a young woman who was the only woman in a house with four men. It was the time of my life. One of them was my boyfriend, one of them was my bf's brother, one of them was bf's brother's boyfriend. In other words, I knew them all. I lived with them on purpose.

I would NEVER live in a house with people, men or women, but especially men, who I'd never met. Preferably hung out with for at least a few hours.

I'd never do business with an agent who doesn't even PRETEND TO TRY to do their job and introduce you to your potential roommates. And I live in NY, where you pretty much have to deal with varying degrees of shady brokers. That's just a shade too far.

You're not just buying someone's used camera, here-- this will be your life. Housing is all your money and most of the hours of your time. Don't leave it to chance unless you absolutely must.
posted by kapers at 3:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


From a "what about living with men" standpoint: I have lived with all men on a number of occasions (queer, gender non-conforming AFAB person here). The drawback has always been that they mostly don't clean or take care of any house stuff without a lot of prompting, instructions, begging, etc. I would not choose a house o'dudes ever again, should my current basically-chore-balanced house of men fall apart. This house share seems to operate a bit differently from a group house per se, but even so, what responsibility will everyone have for the kitchen, bathroom, laundry facilities and any other common areas? You get tired of gross food bits caught in the drain, etc.
posted by Frowner at 3:46 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't worry about living in a house of guys. And there are a lot of living situations where the landlord just fills rooms and people agree to that. And it would be nice to meet people ahead of time.

But if you're in a pinch and everything else is fine, 6 months is not that long.
posted by jander03 at 3:54 PM on April 5, 2016


Never live with people you haven't met in person. "he works a lot" is a pretty shitty excuse for you to have agree to live with someone you haven't met, and for the male roommate to get a new roommate he hasn't met either (from his perspective). please keep looking. that bad feeling you are getting about this - you know the one that prompted you to write this question? - it's telling you to keep looking, ok? good luck. something better will turn up.
posted by zdravo at 4:02 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I rented a room in somerville sight unseen with another guy and a girl I'd never met. The common area was common, Ted's room was covered with socialist propaganda. I had a ton of bike and computer parts. I don't remember her name, but she spent a lot of time working on architecture projects in her room and burning her dinner and not cleaning up after herself. we split bills and occasionally talked in the common area. Beyond that we were 3 ships in the night. Later on I moved into the bigger room and the roommates rotated to a comedian/ school teacher and a comic book guy/ student. Pretty much same old same old. No rapes, no weird creepy sexual harrassment. We were always separate people living independent lives.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:22 PM on April 5, 2016


Are you a student? This might change my answer slightly. Students are often thrown together sight unseen, but then there is usually some recourse, an avenue for complaint through the school, and there is some liability on their part.

If this is all independent though, you really are leaving it to chance. Go with your gut.

I think it's valid to be wary of living with all men FWIW, even though I had a nice experience. Everyone's all gender blind right now (but if something DID happen to you, watch everyone question your judgement for living with a bunch o strange bros.)
posted by kapers at 4:28 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was once the only woman in a shared apartment with three men in a foreign country. It worked out great BUT I knew the person moving out and I met everyone before agreeing to move in.

This housing arrangement could be fine but I would not seriously consider it until I'd met everyone first. Could you even just knock on the door and introduce yourself as a potential housemate tomorrow evening? If they're obviously creepy, you'll know right away; if there are bigger issues, it may take longer to figure that out but that would happen anywhere. And if it's an awful housing situation, a current resident could even kindly advise you to keep looking elsewhere!
posted by smorgasbord at 4:45 PM on April 5, 2016


Really, whether or not this can work out depends on the guys involved. If all of them are nice, hooray! If even one of them is a creeper who gets a crush on ANY female who speaks to him, then it's a nightmare. If you have zero way to find this out before committing for six months.....eeek.

I think the unfortunate answer to this question is you can't commit to living here and will have to remain in expensive limbo awhile longer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:49 PM on April 5, 2016


It is inappropriate for the realtor to omit the fact that all three of your roommates would be male. That's a situation that would make a lot of women uncomfortable, and the realtor damn well knows it. However, the realtor's behavior aside, I would not personally rule out all-male roommates on principle.

However, the claim that it is "impossible" for you to meet even one of these three roommates is some serious bullshit. Absolutely not. Run.
posted by desuetude at 6:50 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Seems almost as odd to me that the other 3 have not asked to meet you. I would think you could find a time to meet them even if it was one at time in some public place.
posted by AugustWest at 7:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


A locked bedroom door is absolutely no guarantee of safety. A strong person, especially a strong person in a chemically altered state, can go through a door like that in seconds. Don't ask me how I know. I would not do this.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:56 PM on April 5, 2016


Why would anyone move in with total strangers, male or female, never having even spoken to them?
posted by BlueHorse at 9:01 PM on April 5, 2016


WOW. Thanks for all the responses, I was hoping even just one or two would be enough to come home to from work, but that's amazing. I really appreciate you all taking the time and effort to respond. Some posts that caught my eye:

@Sara C--"*For example I'd be less comfortable moving in with a 50 year old man, someone in a gang rehab program, etc."

Exactly how I feel. There was one other sharehouse I inspected where they were all males and the next youngest was 40 and they all looked to be heavy drinkers (judging by the bottles on the kitchen bench). But it was obviously a no brainer--age, gender and drinking differences was a bit too many. This was more grey as less of an age difference (I'm presuming), and no obvious drinking difference (no drink bottles out and about).

@fingersandtoes--thanks, good point about having to feel safe in shared spaces too.

@sunset in snow country--good points, thanks.

@kapers--when you actually state it like that, I realise yeah my issue would be living with all-male-strangers. By that, I would've been prepared to move into an all-stranger house as long as there was one other girl there too, OR, if it was all guys, I had to have met all of them at least

@Frowner--I'm actually not worried about mess, I'm quite like a guy in that regard. And the house was neat so it would've been a moot point anyway (as in, you could see clearly washed dishes drying on the drainer etc)

@zdravo--thanks for the encouragement.

@kapers again--no, this is completely independent. Yeah, I'm worried about that. Not so much about people's judgement in of itself, but I'd be hating myself already and don't need external judgement on top, so yes you've hit the nail on the head again.

@smorgasbord--great idea, but already withdrew. But will keep in mind for next time.

@jenfullmoon--YES. actually that's what I'm worried about. A creeper who yeah, crushes on any female who speaks to him.

@AugustWest--great idea. Already withdrew, but will keep in mind for next time.

@WalkerWestridge--I feel sorry for you if you happened to be the owner of or being protected by said door.

@BlueHorse--because you get desperate, like me.

Thanks everyone again, Metafilter again proves what a great community it is!
posted by glache at 12:50 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


You can't meet any of your housemates before signing paperwork and handing over money?! That reason alone is a total instant rejection, irrelevant of any other quirks, issues or concerns.
posted by Wordshore at 4:30 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


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