Choosing a new flatmate is like choosing a new boyfriend - you can do it over the Internet

Like dating before it, picking a new flatmate online is actually remarkably painless...

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The Independent Online

This week, my new flatmate and I went food shopping. I know, not the greatest confession ever, but stay with me. On Friday night, as a respite from fashion week madness, she dragged me in the pouring rain to the cinema, where we cried as Bill Nighy played the world’s best dad. And then we got a Chinese. It is all foreign to me, this fun flat mate thing.

Let me rewind. Anyone that has come within 10 miles of me this year has heard about The Flat Mate Thing. Finally, though, I have acquired two new live-in friends for my final year. Isn’t that too just too terrifying? I am delighted that homelessness is no longer an option and I didn’t have to move house. Now I can stop going on about it, hooray! I had a lemon beer to celebrate: what a wild child they're living with.

Choosing a flatmate is like choosing a partner. This time, I chose a path previously unconsidered: online. Initially I was skeptical, before I realised that if nothing else, it would provide something for my column. So I signed up to Spareroom. And, not bizarrely given the price of the huge rooms in my flat and proximity to 24-hour city-wide buses, I got messages. And ‘interests’, as Spareroom calls their equivalent of Facebook ‘pokes’.

Feeling less of a social pariah than I expected, I clicked ‘interest on a couple of profiles – those I had refined in selection down to a pinprick – and we played a silly game of ‘who will message first?’ before I gave in. Then, like dating, I endured the when-will-they-message-me-try-and-keep-cool girl rage which, on this occasion, with a time frame, I feel was justified. Like dating, I endured the what-if-they’re-crazy-and-now-they-know-where-I-live worry.

The first pair came together: "You’re lovely," they said. "Your flat is even lovelier" – charming! – they said. "But we just don’t like the area." Fair enough, I don’t like it either. I showed three more girls round and chose the first two. It was brilliant. And definitely like dating. "You’re flirting with them," my outgoing resident commented, from my room. Perhaps I’m in the wrong job – maybe I’m destined to be an estate agent.

The point of this – not to discourage you from enjoying my failed personal life – is that the search for anything important is difficult. Especially at university where people are a long way from home. And, considering all the ‘why don’t we live together, it’ll be so much fun!!!111’ conversations of first year, this particular quest should be difficult. You’re going to be sharing a loo, a kettle and a social group with this person; they had better not be a bad egg. And, not wanting to sound like your mother, there is such a thing as too much fun.

As with everything, success comes when you least expect it. H and I keep finishing each other’s sentences. Tomorrow is her three-week anniversary, so I’m going to buy her flowers; K moves in later this week. But I will say this: the Internet is your friend. Although some would say that the whole shebang is uncouth, or dodgy, I’m sticking up for technology just this once. It might just have made my year.