Choosing a roommate is just like choosing a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Unlike dating, you can’t breakup with your roommate as soon as things go bad. Since you’ll probably sign a lease, you’ll be stuck together until your contract ends. Use the following tips to pick the perfect roommate and avoid painfully uncomfortable living situations.
1. Look Beyond Your Good Friends
Just because you are good friends with someone doesn’t mean that you’ll do well living with them. Your best friend could have annoying in-home habits that you won’t discover until you guys are living under the same roof. You don’t want to ruin a good friendship just because you need a roommate. Try using online classifieds and social media to find people outside of your immediate social circle. If things don’t work out, at least you won’t lose a close friend.
2. Ask Potential Roommates Tough Questions
You want a roommate whose lifestyle compliments your own. Asking a lot of questions, including a few uncomfortable ones, could save you a lot of grief later. Consider inquiring about the following depending on your lifestyle:
- The person’s work schedule
- Whether he or she drinks, smoke cigarettes, or uses drugs
- How often he or she likes to host guests
- How loudly he or she likes to play music
- How much TV he or she watches in common spaces
- Whether he or she minds sharing household items
- Whether he or she has a good credit rating
- Whether he or she has any health concerns you should know about
You’ll have your own priorities when choosing a roommate. Perhaps you don’t want someone who smokes. Then again, maybe you’re happy to find someone else who doesn’t mind smoking indoors. It’s not about finding the perfect person. It’s about finding a good match. Here are some more questions for you to inquire of your potential new roommate about.
3. Find Out What Your Roomie Expects From You
Ideally, you’re interviewing each other to make sure you can live together without many conflicts. Going over your own list of questions satisfies part of that; however, you must also set aside time for your potential roommate to ask his or her own questions too. When the time comes, answer as accurately as you can. You do not want a small lie to create a lot of friction. Find out what your roommate expects from you. Can you conform to those expectations? If you’re a sloppy person, then you know you can’t meet the expectations of a neat-freak. Thank the candidate for his or her time and explain why you aren’t a good fit.
4. Find the Right Apartment
The right apartment can make a big difference. If you live in a small apartment, you’ re more likely to step on each other’s toes – both literally and figuratively. That’s how resentment starts to develop. When you look at places, you’ll see that most complexes have several apartment sizes and designs. Make sure you choose the option that will make you and your roommate feel comfortable. You may need to make a list of your priorities so you can focus on apartments that match your needs. Consider the following apartment features:
- How much room you want in the kitchen
- How many bedrooms you need
- Whether you want more privacy, such as bedrooms at opposite ends of the apartment, or even having 2 floors, if that’s an option
- How many bathrooms you need
If a particular feature, or lack thereof, is a deal-breaker for you, speak up. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in an unhappy condition that could make you and your roommate miserable.
5. Find Someone Who’s Able to Contribute
You want a roommate who will pitch in with household chores. Otherwise, you’ll likely become resentful if you feel like you’re doing more than your fair share. The same goes for paying rent and bills. Make sure that your potential roommate has a steady source of income. It may feel intrusive, but it’s important to ask potential roommates to provide information about how much money they earn. You don’t want to find out that someone with a full-time job makes too little money to pay his or her half of the bills. That could lead to more than just hurt feelings and frustration. It could lead to small claims court.
It’s a challenge all adults face: How do you find a roommate that isn’t certifiably insane? Sure, immaculate hardwood floors and a large closet can make up for a lot, but if your roommate’s quirks are just a little beyond the threshold of what is considered to be reasonable human behavior, it can make apartment living pretty stressful. Fortunately, finding a good roommate isn’t impossible. In fact, with all the technology at your fingertips, you have a better chance than ever before of finding your new best friend. Before you say “yes” to the first random person that responds to your ad on Craigslist, follow these tips for how to find a good roommate:
6. Know Your Limits
Before you begin searching for a roommate, you need to be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle. What qualities are you looking for in a future roommate? We’ll take for granted that it’s important that they be able to make rent each month, but what about sleeping habits? Smoking? Cleanliness? Compiling a list before you interview roommates will save you from a lot of stress after you sign your lease. It’s OK if you hate cats–just be honest about it.
7. Ask for Recommendations
Truthfully, the best way to find a roommate that you’ll be able to get along with is through word of mouth. Your friends and family know you better than anyone, and will probably instinctively know whether you would be compatible with a potential roommate before you even meet them. Like random roommates in college, it’s possible that the person you met on Craigslist will end up being your best friend, but getting a referral is safer than trusting the word of a stranger.
8. Meet Face to Face
If you do decide to advertise for a roommate, meet applicants face to face at a neutral location, like a coffee shop, for an interview. The conversation should be casual and friendly–you don’t want to scare them off–but make sure to ask about the requirements you compiled on your earlier list. You may also want to bring a friend with you to get a second opinion.
9. Trust Your Gut
If they don’t seem great, don’t go with them. When it comes to meeting a potential roomate, always trust your gut.
10. Sign a Roommate Agreement
You’ve done it! You found the perfect roommate. Before you sign a lease, you should draft a separate roommate agreement to make sure you’re both on the same page about your living situation. Your agreement should cover everything from the share of rent you’ll each pay, to who is responsible for cleaning and whether or not you’ll share groceries.