Don't Hate Your Housemates: 7 Things to Consider Before Moving In Together

This post is part of Multi Family Living Mondays, a series of articles on co-housing and multi-family living.

If you are considering trying to set up a multi family living/co-housing situation with someone you know, there are a lot of things to think through before taking the plunge. Choosing the right people to live with is the most important part! Of course, nobody is perfect, but hopefully these questions will help everyone involved to think wisely and realistically.

1: Do you know each other well?

Have you seen one another under stress, when tired, when relaxed? Have you seen one another’s homes, and did you feel like you could live there? It’s one thing to enjoy a friend’s company for a few hours a week, but quite another to share virtually every aspect of life when you are at your best and your worst. Sometimes even close friendships can be jeopardized when friends decide to become roommates. Consider whether you are a) willing to risk challenges to your relationship and/or b) completely committed to working through whatever difficulties arise.

Also, the better you know someone, the easier it will be to evaluate some of the other questions on this list.

2: Do you have similar financial values?

When you live with someone, you see aspects of them you may not see under any other circumstances. When you are sharing bills and living space and quite a bit of your free time, financial values are often on display and can be a source of conflict. Things will probably go more smoothly if you have at least somewhat similar ideas about how much you want to spend on housing, entertainment, food, enhancing the comfort or beauty of your living space, etc. Of course, there will always be differences, but the key is to be able to identify them ahead of time and see if those differences can be accommodated while sharing a house, some expenses and lots of time together.

3: Do you have compatible social values and lifestyles?

What do you like to do in the evenings? On the weekends? Do you like to have people around? Do you like to sit quietly and read without any distractions? It can absolutely work to live with people who have some different interests and hobbies, but it is important to think through what they are and if your lifestyles are complementary or oppositional.

4: Do you communicate well?

Any time two or more people live together, there is bound to be some conflict or difference of opinion. The question is, how is that conflict discovered, and how is it resolved? Are you and your potential housemates able to identify your desires and needs and express them in a constructive way? Think through your communication styles and personalities, and consider whether passive aggressive, conflict avoidant, or confrontational habits exist and can be worked through and overcome.

5: Do you have compatible goals?

Why are you choosing to share a living space? To save money? To hang out more and have more fun and social interaction? To create a place for hosting groups and building community with others? To share the burden of raising kids? To lower your carbon footprint/ environmental impact? All of these can be good motivations to consider co-housing, but focusing on one might preclude others. If one family cares more about saving money, and the other cares more about creating a lovely, comfortable place to have a lot of people over all the time, you’ll have to think through those differing goals and find ways to compromise.

6: Do you have compatible needs?

This is really a combination of numbers 4 and 5. Basically, try to think through financial, social, relational, spiritual, environmental, and physical desires and needs to see if sharing a house will help you thrive, or only become a source of conflict and trial.

7: Do you get along?

This is just a basic reminder that living together means, well… living together. A lot of time, space, and interaction shared with the same people. Are these the people you want to do that with?

Did I miss anything? Have a question or an opinion? Leave a comment!


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