Finding a home is not easy. But finding the right people to put into it is no less of a challenge. Not getting along with someone is in the order of things, and no matter how patient and tolerant a person is, living together can be a trial by fire even among the closest of friends. Yet, a home populated with people living in harmony, sharing joys and sorrows, as well as lunches, dinners, and maybe even evening outings, is one of those experiences that can change your life.
So if you rent a house or a room, here is a practical decalogue of tips for not turning your apartment into a den of pent-up anger and resentment, but for succeeding in finding that alternative family that every out-of-towner deserves.
1. A clear announcement
AAA Wanted… The search for a new tenant necessarily goes through an ad. And if you want to save money and spare yourself inconclusive phone calls, there is no point in writing “no time wasters.” It makes much more sense to summarize key information about the house in a few sentences with a colloquial and affable tone. How many rooms? How many tenants? Expenses included or excluded? Mixed house or not? All the same age or open to the generation gap? For a few more tips on how to place a good offer, it is worth reading“The 5 Rules for a Perfect Ad.”
2. Scheduling appointments
Take at least half an hour for each appointment. Between house tours, questions about the lease, security deposit, breakdown of incidental expenses, and space to get to know each other, that’s the minimum amount of time to figure out if an ordinary person can turn into a potential tenant. In the case of apartments of more than two people, make sure that as many tenants as possible are present. It is useful to get cross opinions and give the would-be tenant a chance to get to know all future co-inhabitants.
3. Present the house in optimal condition
If you want a beautiful person around you, start by making the environment around you beautiful. It is not a matter of etiquette, but of consistency. Getting to know a potential tenant is not too different from a first date: you try to look your best because you expect the best from the potential relationship. And because there is always time to show our flaws….
4. Judgmental but not critical
Meeting the would-be tenant looks a lot like an exam. Or rather, to an audition where you are the judge and the potential roommate is the performer who has to convince you. Which doesn’t mean you have to get carried away and imitate the perfidy of talent judges. Don’t be too rigid in examining who is in front of you: often the “X factor” is possessed by the most unsuspected people.
5. Seeking a kindred spirit (but alternative)
Study well the characteristics of the potential tenant: interests, hobbies, occupations. Sharing passions is the basis of every social relationship, but don’t forget that every difference is a potential asset. People dealing with the same thing can give rise to competitive tension. People who are too far apart often end up in the kitchen and share only awkward silences after the courtesy “hello.” People who are unfit to live together then end up taking off even that “hello…”
To help you in your search, you can now browse through rental requests, navigating through the profiles of searchers and their desires.
6. Rules, but not commandments
Be precise in listing costs and house habits in advance. The infamous “shifts” for cleaning and bills are obnoxious but essential for establishing regularity, and it is right to announce them by showing resilience and readiness to “rewrite” routines to fit everyone’s needs.
7. Continue the appointment elsewhere
It should not be forgotten that those who come to see home are playing “away”-a condition that can lead even the most easygoing person to have a less natural or more punctilious attitude. If there is a chance, invite the guest to have coffee at the coffee shop below the house. Or offer to drive him to the nearest stop. From those few extra minutes you get a lot of valuable information about getting to know each other.
8. Chase away the “ghost of past roommates”
It has happened to everyone. You share months or maybe even beautiful years. Then, at some point, someone says goodbye. You may be because he graduated, found a new job or an important love, but in the end he leaves you with a vacant room and an emptiness in your heart. Changes are in the natural order of things, and no matter how much you now live with the thought of recreating that synchronicity, you must not allow yourself to become nostalgic. To look for the spirit of the previous tenant in the newcomer is foolish and at times masochistic.
9. Take the time, but not all the time
Invite all potential housemates to see the house. Take the time to get to know them and evaluate them carefully. But don’t forget: just as you need to find someone to share the cost of a rental, the person in front of you also needs to find a roof within a reasonable time. The time factor can rub everyone the wrong way, and it is not nice for either party involved to be told weeks later, “I’m sorry, but I’ve already found it!”
10. Choose empathy
Empathy is a key factor in any kind of relationship, casual or lasting. In the case of the roommate, where we have a relative time to figure out whether a person is made to share spaces, expenses and character specificities with us, we must ultimately appeal to that arcane and mysterious sense that is the ability to connect with the other. So-called “skin” feelings are the only ones you can trust, so if you feel that the person in front of you understood you and was clear and understandable without posturing or affectation, he or she is probably the right tenant. Then again, you will never know who is the right person to live with until you start doing so.
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