If you’re moving to a big city for the first time and can’t afford to buy or rent a full apartment, one option is to share with others. Anyone who’s ever done it is likely to have a story or two of new friendships formed, or possibly unfortunate fights fought. Of course, the challenge of finding new roommates works both ways, whether you’re the searcher or the person offering a room.
Across the pond in London, rocketing house prices means that renting a room in a shared apartment, while still pricey, is for many the only option. So a new startup called Ideal Flatmate wants to help.
Ideal Flatmate told TechCrunch that it looked to dating sites for ideas on how to create a service that could bring together like-minded renters.
So, as part of a matchmaking exercise, a room hunter visiting Ideal Flatmate’s website is asked to respond to various lifestyle statements by selecting opinions ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
The survey has been carefully constructed to try to learn as much as possible about the user’s living style and personality. Aware that this was a crucial part of its service, Ideal Flatmate called on two psychologists from Cambridge University to help it design the questionnaire.
It’s divided into four main subjects:
- Sociability (e.g., “I like to have people over for drinks on a regular basis”)
- Social openness (e.g., “I prefer to eat in my room rather than in the communal areas.”)
- Social flexibility (e.g., “I don’t mind if my flatmates invite friends to the house, as long as they give me notice.”)
- Cleanliness and orderliness (e.g., “There should be a rota for allocating household chores.”)
Once collected, Ideal Flatmate’s algorithms set to work, using the collected data to hook up those looking for somewhere to live with existing tenants in a particular apartment.
Ideal Flatmate co-founder Tom Gatzen told TechCrunch that up to now interested folks include not only those looking for a room but also an increasing number of landlords who are uploading their properties to the site.
“The highest proportion of users are in the 20 to 35 bracket but there are also a significant number of 40-plus flat hunters, indicative of the growing number of this age range living in shared rental accommodation as a result of societal changes,” Gatzen said.
To make use of Ideal Flatmate’s service, room hunters need to cough up 5 pounds (about $6.25) for a week’s access, during which time they’ll receive information on possible matches. The fee also includes access to the service’s messaging feature enabling easy and direct contact between those that the site matches up.
It’s early days for Ideal Flatmate, but if it can get enough users on board early on, and its matching algorithms lead to harmonious — rather than hostile — room shares, it could expand beyond London and become the go-to place for those hunting for a decent place to live.
In the United States, a similar service that uses a “lifestyle questionnaire” is Roomsurf, though you have to be a college student to use it.