Friend of Silvernest Annamarie Pluhar has been homesharing for twenty years and now helps housemates with expert tips and advice through her website, www.sharinghousing.com. Below are her tips for determining what you want in a housemate and identifying the characteristics that will make or break the relationship.
What kind of home do you want?
There are people who rent rooms in their houses and don’t want to have any interaction with their roomers. They just want the rental money. I call those rooming houses. At the other end are those who want community, a companionship similar to family. There are lots of variations in between these extremes.
If you don’t want a rooming house, you need to find a way to share common spaces. One way to do this is to invite the new home-mate to have some of his/her things in those spaces, so it feels like their space as well. It might be a picture or a piece of furniture. It might be more than that. In the kitchen, they might have an appliance, (toaster, blender, mixer, juicer, rice-cooker) that isn’t already there or is in better shape than the current item. They might have pottery or pans that fill out the kitchen.
It’s worth exploring, because they will certainly have stuff. If they are going to feel that they are home, they need to be able to use their stuff, too. It’s all part of making space for a new home-mate.
Living Well With Others - The Golden Rule
It’s simple, really.
If you are a person of good heart who has the ability to put “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you can live under the same roof with someone who also lives by this principle.
This principle of reciprocity is universal and can be found in every religion. In Judaism, it is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18); in Buddhism, "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself." (Udanavarga 5:18). There are many more.
The basic idea is that in considering the other as oneself you create a relationship of kindness and generosity. Assuming that you are compatible in how you live in your home, you should want to make it nice for everyone and should be able to expect the same.
How to Identify Your Must-Haves
When you start thinking about living with a home-mate, it’s very important that you consider what you must have and what you can’t live with in your home.
A "must-have" is a physical thing or a behavior that is essential for you to live comfortably in your home. A "can’t live-with" is a behavior or physical element that would make you too uncomfortable to put up with. Some obvious categories are habits like smoking, alcohol use, recreational drugs and pets. You may have your own unique preferences as well.
Understanding your must-haves and can’t-live-withs will help you when talking to potential housemates. If the person doesn’t fit, it's okay to say "no" and move on. You deserve to be comfortable in your home.
Want to learn more? Check out Annamarie's guide to finding and keeping good housemates.
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