5 Tips on Finding the Right Housemates When Living in China

Jun 07, 2022 By Andrea Hunt , eChinacities.com


Finding the right apartment in China is fairly easy. Not always so easy is finding the right housemates. If you’re on a low salary and not in a position to rent an entire apartment to yourself, or if you just like company, you’ll want to live with others. Here are five tips on how to find the right housemates when living in China.

Source: sea turtle

Those of us who live with housemates in China usually end up shacked up with complete strangers out of necessity. I can’t imagine checking out the classifieds for roommates in my home country of the USA. For one thing, even though we have lots of great and mild tempered people in America, you could equally end up moving in with a crackhead-axe-murderer. Here in China, however, you can hopefully safely assume that the expats in your city are fairly similar to you, at least in terms of their drug taking and murdering habits. Still, there are several best practices to follow to ensure you find a good match. Let’s dive in.

1. Be Open-Minded but Realistic

When meeting your would-be housemates, don’t judge the book by its cover, but do be realistic. It doesn’t matter how old they are, how trendy they look, where they come from or what they do for a living. But if you don’t get along with them to a reasonable level within the first meeting, it’s probably not going to work out. Some people can grow on you but it's better not to take the chance when it comes to the people you live with.

Be open to living with people from other cultures, but also be honest with yourself about the kind of person you can live with. If you hate cat people, don’t move into a household that’s just rescued a litter of kittens from the street. If you are a hardcore vegetarian, don’t shack up with barbecue nuts. If you hate smoking, don’t make out it’s no big deal. You’ll only regret it later. If someone rubs you up the wrong way, cut your losses and move on.

2. Discuss Expenses Upfront

We all have things we can and can’t live without at home. Obviously you’d expect the bills the be split evenly between housemates, but perhaps there are things you consider essential that your housemates do not, or vice-versa.

If you want cable TV or super fast broadband, for example, make sure everyone else does too so you aren’t pushing people to buy something they don’t want. If you want a cleaner, make sure everyone else is willing to chip in or you may end up footing the bill by yourself. It’s always smart to nail down the nitty-gritty before you sign on the dotted line.

3. Make Rules About Guests

This is perhaps the main thing people get into confrontations about when living with housemates in China. Your single housemates may bring people home with them from time to time, while your attached housemates may have their significant other staying over a few nights a week.

It’s a good idea to be clear about where you stand on this from the beginning. Otherwise, you might find people essentially moving their partners in without consultation, or, worse still, some dude dossing on your couch for a month.

4. Know Where You Stand on Parties

If you don't like to party where you sleep, be clear about this from the get-go. Some people like hosting wild house parties; for others it’s their idea of hell. Having a gaggle of mates over for a dinner party is one thing, but inviting half the city’s expat community round for a CNY all-nighter is quite another.

You need to be honest with your potential housemates about where you stand on parties. Be straight up about it or you will undoubtedly run into lots of trouble later. Even if you don’t see totally eye-to-eye, you can still make it work with some solid boundaries. Perhaps you could agree on one wild party a year, for which the housemates who aren’t keen can lock their doors and stay elsewhere.

5. Don’t Try To Be Cool

This is the biggest mistake people make when they first meet their roommates. You’re so keen to get on with them you may hide or embellish parts of your personality and habits in order to fit in with their’s. This is not a recipe for a happy home.

If you smoke, don’t hide it and then later hang out of your bedroom window puffing away. If you like to get up with the sun and do loud yogic chanting, you probably need to mention that. If you like to have wild nights out and sleep in late on the weekends, discuss your schedule with your flute-playing housemate. Don’t paint a rosy picture of yourself as a super tidy and clean person if you don't even know which end of the mop to hold.

Follow these five rules — which all basically boil down to being honest with yourself and your housies — and you’re on the path to blissful communal living in China.

What other tips do you have for finding the right housemates when living in China? Drop your suggestions in the comment box below.

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