If you are considering group housing:

Check bulletin boards, classified ads and roommate services, which charge $25 to $35 to match houses and people.

Discuss personal habits with your potential house mates. The messy at heart will be unhappy with compulsive cleaners.

Find out if other members are looking for a surrogate family, or if they prefer heating (and eating) a frozen pizza alone.

Try to spot the zealots in any area. You don't want to wind up in court as one group did, after a woman law student accused the men of all being sexists, ripped down their Farrah Fawcett-Majors poster and stopped paying rent.

Determine everything you can about expenses: division of rent, meals and incidental items like toilet paper.

Know how cleaning is handled, or you may wind up doing it yourself.

Push for regular house meetings.It's agreed they are necessary, and this is the time to say your cat is driving me crazy, or how about a house party the 4th?

Be prepared to bite the bullet when someone has to go, with one person explaining to the offender as objectively as possible why things aren't working out and giving him or her a reasonable amount of time to find another place to live.