Questions for potential roommates?
July 22, 2017 7:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at flatshares and would like help figuring out how to tell which ones will work for me. Snowflakes inside.

As mentioned in a previous Ask, I'm moving to Paris. I decided flatshares made more sense than a studio, at least initially, and have got a few lined up to visit. These will be short-ish visits where I'll be looking at the flats and chatting with my potential future roommates.

What questions should I be sure to ask? Red flags I should look for? I'm going to be doing all of this in my second language (French) so having a list of questions I can refer to will be super useful. TIA!
posted by Tamanna to Human Relations (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Asking about previous roommate experiences of theirs might be revealing. I've heard of people recount rocky roommate experiences with seemingly little insight into their own actions. Some, when asked this question, can be very externalizing, which in my book would be a red flag. Others can reveal certain quirks or intolerances.

Of course, standard questions about their schedule, work, drug/alcohol use, partners, bedtimes, use of kitchen space... would all be useful as well.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:18 PM on July 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

"What would you do if me living here wasn't working out for you?"

There's basically three responses to this:
A) "Oh, I'm sure that wouldn't happen. I love everyone!" Don't do it. They will likely turn into a crazy person if they end up not liking you.
B) "Well, I'd explain my issues to you, and if we couldn't come to an agreement, I suppose I'd move out / ask you to move out (depending on who was subletting from whom) at the end of our lease period." Go ahead. They're self-aware enough to probably not be an asshole.
C) "Oh, I'd throw your shit out onto the sidewalk. Ha ha! I'm sure we'd figure something out." Run. When people tell you who they are, believe them.
posted by Etrigan at 8:45 PM on July 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

"Why did your last roommate leave?"
posted by jacquilynne at 9:06 PM on July 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Its easy to get caught up in thinking about the flatmates. Remember also to consider the things you would investigate if you were looking at a studio with nobody else in it, especially noise levels from the street and other properties.
posted by mani at 1:23 AM on July 23, 2017

As this is an international move spend time to research and understand common contractual arrangements for flat sharing in France. Everybody makes assumptions based on what they 'know' or think they know. These assumption inform what questions you think to ask. And making assumptions about legal frameworks is always a really bad idea. You should learn about tenant rights in general and then specifics of flat sharing. If you are doing this as part of a study program there may be student services that can point you in the right direction.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:15 AM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe an interesting question is how OK you or them are with (constant) visits from boy/girlfriends.

I houseshared with a girl, then she got a boyfriend and at some point it was more like living with 3 ppl instead of 2. The same happened in reverse where I would be the one with the girlfriend.
posted by wolfr at 4:19 AM on July 23, 2017

Talk about housekeeping expectations. Ask what chores do you hate? to start a conversation. You want roommates who have a similar level of messy vs. clean to yours. Same with noise and schedules.
posted by theora55 at 6:45 AM on July 23, 2017

I'd first have a good think about what drives you crazy (or, more positively, what's important to you). OK with parties? How about subdued dinner parties? Having people over, level of cleanliness, use of common areas? Noise levels? Or, since you're new in the city, do you want housemates who can be your friends, or are you looking for something less intense?
posted by kalimac at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2017

I looked at a couple of flatshares where the housemates had no interest in me other than showing me around - they didn't ask about me or my interests/job etc, and in one case, whilst I was asking questions, the others just stared at the TV instead of being engaged. This is a bad, bad sign.
posted by mippy at 2:03 PM on July 23, 2017

"Can I talk to your last flatmate?" That tells you all you need to know.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 2:51 PM on July 23, 2017

spend time to research and understand common contractual arrangements for flat sharing in France

This is a must. Don't expect your potential flatmates to be able to explain everything, because their common, unstated expectations are totally natural to them.

Also, ask what kind of relationship they want with their flatmates. Are they looking for friends, occasional conversation, ships passing in the night.
posted by Banknote of the year at 5:11 PM on July 23, 2017

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