Searching for a housemate is like dating without the sex.
Or deciding to move in with your boyfriend after 20 minutes.
Shacking up with a friend can seem like a tempting option: A 24/7 house party with Coco Pops for breakfast, vodka for toothpaste and puppies roaming free.
And sure, it’s all fun and games until you discover your bestie spends 40 minutes in the shower and doesn’t wash up. Or worse, washes up so badly you have to do it again.
So a random housemate it is. Deciding precisely who, however, is a journey fraught with uncertainty, anxiety and possibly their discarded toenail clippings.
Before you even put finger to keyboard on your Spare Room profile, here are 10 essential things you should know about finding a housemate.
1. People are weird
There are people whose sole concern is with the water pressure (too low? Too high? They will make you run the shower, stand there nodding and never tell you why).
There are also people who will mention in passing that their mates will be staying, every weekend, but don’t worry because ‘they are totally loud and crazy!’
2. Your advert is irrelevant
Even if you actually are a tidy, professional 20-something who likes a glass of wine out and a movie night in, no one cares. That’s what everyone likes.
Avoid the phrase ‘laid-back’ – it’s catnip to oddballs.
3. Hell is a speed flat-mating event
They make you wear a name badge, which tells you everything you need to know.
4. Everyone is awful
Just reading the replies to your ad will make you wonder if your boss wants the room.
You will start to fantasise about living alone.
5. You are not a bajillionaire
You cannot afford to live alone. Unfortunately.
6. Three is the magic number
Three is: The number of potential housemates you’ll meet before turning to drink; the number of minutes it takes to decide whether you could live with someone or not; the number of times out of four that the answer will be no.
7. Get ready to be 17 again
The people you want will not want you. Their rejection will make you doubt your looks, your personality and everything you’ve ever said/liked/done.
8. This is a spectator sport
Your friends will find your stories about Water Pressure Guy and Mrs Crazy Mates endlessly compelling.
Your misery is their new Narcos.
9. You are anal
Congratulations! You have finally found another human to nest with.
Welcome them to your home with a slideshow on exactly how the bathmat should be hung up and when the bins go out.
10. You might even make friends
Yes, it is possible to end up living with someone you actually like, someone who makes that rare transition from ‘housemate’ to ‘friend’.
In the unlikely event this happens, you should both move out immediately to preserve the friendship.