What international students look for in the ideal housemate

SHARED accommodation is quite common for international students but living with someone else under the same roof can be quite challenging. Jonathan Lian talks to other international students who share their criteria for the ideal housemate.

Image: Robert Judge via Flickr

Image: Robert Judge via Flickr

Not everyone is fortunate when it comes to finding the perfect housemate – it isn’t always easy living with someone and getting to know them while under the same roof.

Such is the case for many international students who upon arriving in Australia, choose a shared accommodation.

But what exactly do international students look for when they talk about finding the ideal housemate?

Honest and Trustworthy


According to international students Annabelle Lee and  Ka Jhun Lam, it is always wise to get to know your housemate before you move in.

“Even if it’s someone you don’t know, [it would] be nice to send them a message on Facebook,” Ms Lee said.

“The person you will be staying with will affect your daily life,” Mr Lam said.

When living with other people, honesty will always lead into an understanding relationship.

“Being honest to each other is important,” Ms Lee said.

“If something bugs you, you shouldn’t secretly complain to someone else [because] it doesn’t solve problems,” she added.

International student Amelia Tan, who requested to have her name changed for this article, believes mutual trust is also a benefit when living together.

“The doors in the apartments I’ve stayed in are not locked,” she said. “So there has to be trust as you don’t want anything to go missing.”

“Keep an open mind even if things aren’t working out,” Ms Lee added. “Its always important to trust your roommate and tell them if you’re not okay with something.”

Understanding and Communicative


Mr Lam also believes talking things out with your roommate is always important.

“There are some issues which are quite sensitive to students, such as money and bills,” he said. ” It’s good to discuss this with your housemate but don’t linger on it too much or you’ll be seen as calculative.”

“It’s also not easy to split bills and utilities with each other if you are unreasonable,” Miss Tan said.

On the topic of unreasonable housemates, former international student Wenjing Lam both elaborated that some might be worse than others.

“I’ve got a friend who’s roommate stayed with her after returning from China,” Wenjing said. “She refused to leave and overstayed her time without paying the rent, which made my friend very unhappy.”

Yet, there are some great relationships fostered through understanding. Third year international student Emily Leung is currently living with her housemate in an apartment in the city.

“We share cleaning tasks and groceries and handle accommodation bills,” she said. “Generally it’s fun for the both of us to do things together.”

Meanwhile, Ms Lee also agreed to be open with her housemate in terms of habits and lifestyle.

“I think a good roommate is someone who understands and gets along with you well,” she said.

“If you build such a relationship, you will start off in a much better place.”

Similar living habits and helpful around the house


According to Wenjing, helping out and maintaining personal hygiene also helps make for a great housemate.

“My friend’s roommate didn’t care about household chores,” she said. “Dirty dishes would be left unwashed to the point where moss and fungus would accumulate on the plate.”

“My previous housemates used to help clean the place up, my current one doesn’t,” Ms Tan said. “I did tell her off over these issues, and she did promise to clean next time. [The] only problem now is she can’t tell the difference between what’s clean and what’s not.”

Besides issues of hygiene, Wenjing’s friend had different living habits from her roommate, which made sharing the same bedroom even more difficult for both of them.

“My friend goes to bed quite early, but her roommate would stay up late playing online games,” Wenjing said.

“The lights and sounds from the game would disturb her from getting a good sleep.”

“If they can’t accept each other’s hobbies, living together can be hard,” Wenjing said.

Ms Leung added that students ought to “find someone who has a similar personality” to theirs. That way, students could share common interests and potentially enjoy living together.

Living happily together


International students, like most other students and residents looking for a new housemate, ideally look for people who are honest, trustworthy, helpful and understanding. Good hygiene and communication also ranks highly as ideal qualities housemates ought to possess.

Most importantly, it all boils down to getting along with your housemate and living happily together.

“You get to meet and befriend a new person, and learn about their culture and background.” Ms Lee said. “Staying with someone can be fun.”

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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