House/flatmate hunting is a lot like internet dating…Generally, it’s completely blind bar an ad placed by one or both parties starting with a little bit about them/their property and little about what they expect from a potential housemate. The details of the ads all sound very nice and fluffy and cover all the “best bits” about you/them and the property you have/want in an effort to give both parties an idea of what it might be like to live with the other.
After trawling through an often exhaustive list of potential housemates and creating a very specific shortlist you might decide you’d like to get in touch with them. Now drafting the first email can be as simple as saying, “Hey, ad sounds great! Can I come over and see the room/have a chat?” or if you really want to know if you can actually live with these people you can write a bit about your best bits and a teeny tiny bit about the things that can actually be a little bit annoying about you. (The latter is the strategy I tend to adopt because I actually annoy myself sometimes. Personally, I think this works cause at least you’re being honest with them…)
Anyway, so after a brief exchange of emails, the current resident(s) is/are expected to invite the potential housemate to meet. At this point the potential housemate doesn’t even have the address but agrees to meet them at the property. Once the address is provided, the potential housemate is then expected to provide their mobile number “just in case”.
Assuming the potential housemate arrives at the property safely, the initial meet and greet is very important. Both parties want to be dually polite and cool. But not too polite and not too cool. This is the part that most closely resembles dating. Both parties have to be their “best self” and at the same time ensure each demonstrates a certain bit of modesty (because nobody likes a boaster) but most of all you have to be interested in the other party (because everybody likes to talk about themselves now and then).
Now, I completely understand why it is so important to go through these motions as, if you’re like me, you wouldn’t want to move into a random place with random people with whom you don’t have a single thing in common. My house is my haven, my safe happy place and if I don’t feel comfortable in my own home I simply can’t live there.
So, after an exchange of all things fantastically interesting and simply wonderful (and usually a quick rip round the property) there’s usually an awkward goodbye and a promise to be in touch. Generally with neither party giving any real indication of how they felt about the meeting because heaven forbid either party say what they feel and have that feeling be not be reciprocated.
So, you wait…for a confirmation or a rejection or in some cases nothing at all.
My personal approach is to tell them I like the place (or not) and to tell them I like them (if I do) before I even leave. Then at least they know where I stand and it’s in their hands. I’ve got nothing to hide and if you don’t ask you don’t get, right?
You see, just like dating.
In my most recent quest, I did find a great house in a great location with some great girls so I guess this strategy works for house/flat hunting…but I am still single so perhaps it doesn’t work so well with dating…?