HAVING a housemate can be a challenge, but with affordable housing solutions far out of reach, cohabiting may just be a viable option.
"Sharing a house with someone has financial benefits," explained a Declan real estate agency spokesperson. The realtor said that once individuals understand that some privacy will be lost, the arrangement can be a mutually benefitting one.
Sharing residence typically means sharing utilities and common spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms. But these are often the areas which many people end up arguing about.
"Humans are dynamic, and dealing with different personalities is never easy, but if you lay some ground rules, sharing a home could be a good experience," said counselling psychologist Ivret Williams.
The counsellor pointed out that socialisation accounts for many of the differences between individuals. So some persons may not be used to the notion of cleaning up after themselves, having come from a home where this was done by their parents or the help.
The need for ground rules relating to chores then becomes essential to avoid a strain in the relationship between the cohabitants.
"You may need to create a roster of who cleans what and when," she said, adding that researching the habits of your proposed companion beforehand through mutual friends could yield useful information in this regard.
Additionally, she recommended that utility bills be closely monitored by both parties to ensure timely and accurate handling.
"It is also important that individuals determine whether the person they intend to share with is reliable," she said. "Many people will simply tell you that they have paid the bills and they really have not, so to avoid the conflict, just ask to have the receipts."
The benefits of cohabiting could also extend to lasting friendships being forged.
"I shared a house with a young lady who remains one of my closet friends to date," 23-year-old Kaycia White says.
According to White, her housemate assisted with the care of her ailing father, visiting him frequently in the hospital.
"We cooked together and even helped each other out with laundry," said White.
But 43-year-old *Maxine McCallum had a much different encounter. Her housemate introduced his female companions to all her personal belongings as his and allowed his children to "jump up and down" on her furniture.
"They constantly used my utensils and left them dirty in the sink," McCallum told Sunday Finance, adding that when she washed and replaced them, "the girlfriend would get upset until she figured out that they actually belonged to me."
With the demand for housing currently outweighing the supply, particularly in the urban areas, the hunt for a home typically takes much time and effort. But as one realtor suggested, pooling with someone may get you into that well-sought-after community, for only half the price.
The realtor explained that pooling offers the increased numbers of young professionals now seeking accommodations, a better chance at obtaining a place that suits them in a competitive housing market.
But for some, not even the need to save a dollar would make them share.
"I need my personal space, and having someone constantly in my face is not a situation I would embrace," *Mathew Thomas said
However, industry experts suggest that cohabiting could also help to combat loneliness.
Apart from sharing the bills, it would be good to have someone to talk to, Williams noted. She pointed out that a good trick to cohabiting is to explore the personality of the prospective housemate to ensure compatibility.
"If it's handled properly, sharing could be a win-win for all," she said.
* Names changed upon request