Is this the right fit?
You have done a thorough job interviewing people and have decided on a person to invite into your home. But what if they aren’t a good fit? What if there are things they didn’t tell you, or their dog is not nearly as nice as you thought?
Every companion housing arrangement should have a trial period to ‘test drive’ the match. The trial period’s length is ultimately up to you, with most people choosing 1-3 months. A trial period is a progressive event where you should make a conscious effort to make things work. Suppose at the end of the trial period, you find that you do not enjoy living with your new companion. In that case, you can end your companion housing arrangement.
The first few days of your new living arrangement is the ‘settling in’ phase. During this phase, there is a great deal of excitement as everyone learns how to re-adjust to the home changes. You will likely realize many smaller details you forgot to cover on move-in day. You may spend some time to re-adjust furniture and storage spaces to accommodate each person’s needs. During this time, it is important to maintain your boundaries. Allowing someone to cross them now is permitting them to do it again. It is very important to begin establishing the culture and etiquette you want in your home at this time.
The first few weeks will provide you with an idea of a person’s true behaviour and routines as they begin to feel comfortable in your home. Pay attention to how receptive they are to your ideas and make a conscious effort to contribute to the household. During this time, you will be establishing the unwritten house rules. If you have written certain rules in your living arrangement agreement but are not enforcing them at this time, these rules effectively become obsolete. You should have regular communication to establish ways of sharing a home that works for everyone during this period.
One of the biggest mistakes during this time is assuming your housing companion will ‘figure it out’ on their own. The first two weeks are the most important time to establish the culture and ways of doing things that you want in your home.
Tip: Schedule a meeting on days 7 and 14 to review what is working well and what is not working well. Some people will be shy to bring up their thoughts on their own, establishing this meeting is in the best interest of all people in the home.
The first few months will provide you with an idea of how your companion housing arrangement will look in the long term. You should have already worked through most of your issues and differences in the first few weeks. Is each person holding themselves accountable to maintain a welcoming and supportive household culture? Are you feeling more comfortable around your new housing companion, and your relationship is improving? Or do you feel uncomfortable with little to no growth in your relationship? During this time, you will want to establish a bi-weekly meeting schedule to touch base and try to make the living arrangement work for everyone.
If you find that you are simply not compatible or cannot work through your differences, it is time to end the living arrangement. Suppose you are enjoying the living arrangement and find that you are growing more comfortable with each other. In that case, it is time to move beyond the trial period.
In the long-term, people will change with time. It is advisable to re-evaluate your living arrangement on an annual or semi-annual basis. You may have an excellent companion housing arrangement. Still, changes in your life may result in you needing a different kind of living arrangement. Suppose you want to end your living arrangement. In that case, you should mutually agree upon a future date, at least two months into the future. This will provide enough time to find a new place to live and prepare for the change.
Your group’s predetermined trial period will now be over, which means it is time to sit down and do a thorough re-evaluation of your Living arrangement agreement. You will be on reasonably solid ground by this time, so you will find things you as a group are ready to change and agree upon within your home. As you now understand each person’s habits and schedules, it is a good time to review and change house rules and cleaning schedules. If you have any items in storage, you can also discuss moving those items into the home. Whatever it is your group decides, it’s essential to write down what you agree on. When you are done, set a future date to repeat this process to re-evaluate your home’s structure and rules.
After one year, you will have gone through a few disagreements, all holidays and maybe even a political election. As you reach and surpass the timelines you set on your companion housing journey, the patterns and norms of the shared home you have created will evolve.
In time, you may create your holiday events and rituals; you may decide to move to another property or city. You may choose to travel together or choose to trade homes with a companion housing group from another city. Moving around this way is very economical and allows you to see more of the country. Some of you may choose to purchase property together. Whatever it is, it will be of your own group’s creation.
There are no standards, no societal rules, assumptions or expectations. You and your group are in the driver’s seat of your lives and are free to create exactly what you want your future together to look like.
It will never be perfect, because life is not perfect, and it will not be without effort because the creation of a life worth living takes effort. But one thing is for sure, it will never be a lonely existence. Enjoy!