FEATURE: How to find the perfect house share

Searching for your next house share can be a daunting and often frustrating task. Stumbling through living room after living room, scrolling endless Gumtree listings and having your personality silently rated by complete strangers is not how anyone wants to spend their evenings. It’s easy to rush into a tenancy just because you want the process to be over, but remember to take your time and consider the following before making any decisions out of desperation:

Could I get on with the potential housemates?

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to pay attention to the people you could end up living with and sharing a lot of your personal time with; do they seem like the kinds of people you would choose to be friends with in the ‘outside’ world? Do you have stuff in common? This is always tricky because, as in interviews, people tend to wear their best faces when meeting potential roomies, so stay alert and sharpen your people-reading skills in preparation. The genuinely nice ones are usually pretty easy to spot. It’s also important to remember to be yourself, and ask the right questions.

Scope out the heating and window situation…

If you’re like me (and most humans), when you get home after a long day, you want to walk in the front door and be greeted by an agreeable temperature. So make sure that there is heating in the room and it works properly and is easily controllable (central heating is best), and that the windows are double glazed and can be opened fully in the summer months. Neither igloos nor saunas are comfortable living situations.

Noise/smell pollution

Take note of where the room is located in the house – back or front? Adjoined to the room in which the neighbours keep their screaming newborn? Looking out on to a busy street corner where drunken people like to congregate after the pub closes? Above a kebab shop, so your clothes will always smell like Doner meat? These are all important things to consider, and be on the lookout for.

Bills, rent and tenancy agreements

Make sure you get all of the information regarding whom you pay rent to and whether or not bills are included – if bills are included, check that there are no hidden extras like internet or TV licence. It’s also worth knowing if the landlord is private or if the house is let by an agency. Private landlords are usually easier to deal with (unless they’re the type of landlords that are always popping round unannounced to do sporadic DIY and spy on you). Letting agents tend to charge extortionate fees to new tenants moving in, so check if this is included in the price.

Party or chill?

Most house shares fall into either the ‘party house’ or ‘chilled house’ category; in the former you will find random blokes passed out in your communal areas and traces of dubious powder on the toilet cistern when you wake up on a Sunday morning, and in the latter your housemates will retreat to their rooms after 8pm most nights and get annoyed if the volume on the TV is turned up too loud. Both scenarios have their pluses and minuses, and it really depends on what you’re looking for. In an ideal world you’ll find a house which balances the two nicely.

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