It has always been engrained into us that the Internet is not a safe place to meet people. ‘Don’t talk to strangers on chat rooms, never use your real name or put photos of your face online’ they said. According to my high school IT teacher, the Internet is a world full of faceless strangers waiting to steal our identities and our vital organs.
Nowadays, the Internet is where we find friends, dates, and most recently for me- a place to live and people to live with. Upon moving to a new city, most twenty somethings have to quickly abandon dreams of a little studio apartment and accept the reality of moving in with strangers. This is where the wild and overwhelming world of room share websites comes along.
Luckily for me, this worked out spectacularly well and the stranger I found on the Internet has become the best part of my apartment. But I did my time on the search, and let me tell you: it’s a minefield out there. By the time you find the perfect one, you’ll feel like you’ve won a war.
- The Woman With All the Weird Rules
You’ll find the perfect apartment- right in the middle of your favourite area above a cute cafe, with affordable rent, big windows and a bath tub- and wonder how this could possibly still be available.
And then you’ll scroll down and see in bold, the list of rules enforced by your live in landlord, such as:
- Pets not allowed
- No smoking
- No house guests
- No loud music
Understandable, but a bit harsh.
And then they get weird:
- No use of the kitchen after 9pm
- No candles
- No citrus fruit
- No bright colours
Even without meeting this person, they terrify me. I imagine living with a scary boarding school teacher who docks electricity privileges if I forget to wash my cereal bowl. Run for the hills.
- The Eager to Please Girl
‘I love going out, but I’m also happy staying in and binge watching Netflix!
‘I’m looking for social house mates, but also really appreciate alone time.’
‘I’m really clean and tidy, but don’t mind unwashed dishes.’
‘I’m very quiet and shy.’
‘I’m really confident and extroverted!’
If I had a dollar for every time I read a vague, indecisive description like this, I would be able to afford my very own studio apartment and skip all of this nonsense.
Most people aim to portray themselves as easy going and flexible, but there are some that take it too far. They cover all bases, claiming that they have every personality trait under the sun, no matter how contradictory these are. They aim to appeal to everyone and anyone, and just end up coming across as a little lost and confused about their identity.
The real translation is: ‘I’m desperate for a place to live, please like me.’
- The Person That is More Than One Person
My first piece of advice when at a viewing is to do a head count. The ad might specify that you’ll only be living with two other people, but if you see multiple shadows darting between rooms trying not to be seen, then you’re probably being duped.
I once lived with an Italian man for about three weeks thinking he was just the girl’s boyfriend who happened to hang around a lot. When I found him lounging around in his pyjamas paying bills, I realised that his behaviour was too familiar for even the clingiest of boyfriends.
Check under the beds and ask for an official census of the house, or you may end up unwittingly signing a lease to live with a family of four and two middle-aged couples.
- The One With All the Hobbies
I’m not against a housemate bringing out an acoustic guitar occasionally, but some people looking for rooms will ask if you’re okay with them bringing along half a domestic farm and an entire travelling circus.
There will be a guy who needs to bring along his keyboard.. But he’s also just purchased a really great DJ set, and some speakers to go along with it- and he’ll ask if you have room for two surfboards and some skiing gear. And is everyone okay with setting up the aquarium in the living room?
This one will probably just leave you wondering how one person can have so many interests.
- The Fetish Guy
Someone will message you offering a double room for rent, and you’ll consider it- until you notice they have some very specific and strange requests.
A friend of mine found a pair who were offering up a completely Peter Pan themed room, complete with a Tinkerbell child sized bed. It became clear they were looking for someone to be the Tinkerbell to their Peter Pan and Wendy dynamic in a house of unsettling Disney fantasies. Sorry Peter, but I don’t care how big the grocery store on your street is- I’m still a few weeks away from being that desperate.
One guy messaged me who claimed to have invented a wind resistant umbrella. He needed to live close to Camden so that he could walk his umbrellas to the market every morning to sell them at his umbrella stall, and also needed enough storage space to store his many very large umbrellas, and a room big enough to work on the umbrella design. Honestly, he used the word umbrella so many times it can only have been a metaphor for something.
- The Ones That Just Want to Hang Out
Ultimately the goal of a profile on a room share website is to make yourself sound as likeable as possible, in hope that someone will want to live with you. If you’re particularly skilled at selling yourself on the Internet, a few people will probably contact you who are neither looking for a room nor have a room to rent, but just want to be friends.
A house share website might seem like a great way to find people who are new to the city and might be looking for new friends- but please don’t interrupt my feverish scrolling through advertisements with your ‘Hey, I actually don’t have a room to rent but I saw your ad and I’m new here, we should hang out!’ messages. You’re on the wrong app.
- The One That Must be Joking
Some rooms are so terrible, so expensive (or both) that you’ll think surely they can’t be serious. The landlord or agent will try to sell you on their mould covered flat with no access to hot water so passionately that you might start to consider it- until you see the hole in the wall and caving in ceiling.
They’ll present the fridge that sits in the hallway instead of the kitchen as a quirky bonus, and use phrases like ‘full of character’, or ‘quaint and cozy’. You’ll view a single bedroom with no windows in the back room of a chicken shop, and the agent will suggest that it’s all about a minimalist lifestyle.
They can tell when you’ve been broken by the house hunt- and they’ll do their best to get you while you’re weak.