4 Things to Consider Before You Get a House Mate

You have finally moved into your own place-a 2 or maybe 3 bedroom house in a good neighbourhood and after your previous two-room digs this one’s big enough for 2. So the sensible thing to do is to let a family member or friend move in. It’s a no brainer right?

However, before you invite someone to move in these are a few questions you must ask yourself beforehand

Are they able to or are they going to help you with the expenses

If the answer is yes, what are these expenses going to be. Are you ready to agree on which ones? If the answer is no, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t let them move in, because they may be able to help in kind. And save you money on cleaning and maintenance. You should also spend some time thinking about the very real possibility that they may not help in kind either and the possibility will be there that you might start to resent them.

The idea of making all the payments and taking care of all household repairs and maintenance may leave you feeling bitter and regretful — so think before you lay out the welcome mat.

What are the long-term future plans

It may be that one of you or both of you have plans that involve marriage. If you and your future house mate are not at this point it is still wise to discuss beforehand the future. Will you be allowed to have your future significant other over at the house? Will you let a significant other move in and stay before getting a separate place? If so, how long will the stay be?

What if the other person is in-between jobs? For how long are you willing to put them up before they get a job? If they don’t land a job as fast as you would want them to, will you have enough money to pay rent and buy food? If not, how is the other person going to cover their expenses? What if, you realize after some months that you don’t really like them living with you?

These are all questions you need to discuss together and be in agreement on before- hand. It’s a lot to talk about, but these discussions are much better to have before rather than after!

What is your tolerance threshold

Even if you like your house mate if you may hate the way they keep their room cluttered, you may not like that they never clean up after themselves or find that you cannot tolerate the company they keep. If these things happen there’s a good chance you’re going to be miserable in your home.

It would be wise to know in advance who they keep company with and who will be in the picture as far as long-term relationships go. Will it be a serious partner, siblings that are dependants, children and maybe a mother or father?

You will have to know what the future may hold and lay down some ground rules or agree on what a life of sharing the house will look like at least a few years in the future. Knowing this will help you not be freaked out later by someone who will have a long list of people coming and going in what is technically your home.

Especially if you like to spend your vacation time in peace and quiet, think about who you invite in.

Do you have a back-up plan

What happens if you ask someone to share your home and things, for whatever reason, don’t work out? Maybe, the relationship does not work? Maybe the job that was supposed to be does not materialise? Maybe you realize you prefer another person rather than the one you picked? What’s your next move?

You can’t possibly anticipate every issue that might arise, nor should you be able to answer all these questions exactly, but you should have some idea what your back-up plan would be if you realize the move was a mistake.

A plan B is important. For instance, ask more than one person and do not commit for the long term. Invite them in for a few months and make it clear. This way you will have no qualms about booting them out because you did let them know that it was for a few months only.

Enjoy your new home!


A Zambian site sharing quick read articles around work, money and adulting life with selective interviews and quotes.
The founder, editor and lead writer who left university with a good grasp of public administration, economics, money, banking and international relations is also qualified in journalism and creative writing. She has been published in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and has been featured in several local and international publications.
An avid bird watcher with an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( a Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list ) she often tweets in poetry and short prose @kwachalelo