Living on your own isn’t always feasible. Whether you’re choosing to live with someone else for monetary reasons, or you simply feel more secure with another person living under the same roof, having a roommate has its pros and cons. For those who are currently on the market for a roommate, there’s a lot to consider when picking the person that is right for you to co-habitate with. From lifestyles, to work schedules, to general hygiene habits, here are some things to mull over before choosing a roommate.
Whether you’re a college student looking for a roommate, or a city dweller looking to share your apartment, here are some things to do and contemplate before picking your potential roomie!
Ask through family and friends first
Instead of immediately putting out an ad on Craigslist or browsing Roomster for a potential flatmate, ask friends and family members if they know of anyone looking for a place to live. This way you can get some inside information on that person, they will already be somewhat vetted by that common connection, and you aren't screening a total stranger.
Start looking ASAP
Picking a roommate is a big decision and it’s not one you want to rush into. If you can, give yourself a month or two to find the roommate that is right for you. Be patient, be diligent and keep in mind that a bad roommate can make your life a living H-E double hockey sticks.
Include your interests in any roommate ads
Let your potential roommates get to know you, your habits, your interests, etc. before they even respond to your ad. This will help weed out some of the applicants and hopefully help you attract someone who is like-minded. Don’t be afraid to state what it is you’re looking for in a roommate!
Always meet roommate candidates in person
Never ever choose a roommate based off of what they look like on pad and paper, or should I say through laptop or smartphone. People can portray themselves to be one way, and then be totally different in actuality. Meet with prospective roommates face-to-face in a neutral location (Like a coffee shop!) so you can get an idea of their personality, see if there’s chemistry between you and make sure that they don’t make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way. If that meeting goes well, then invite them over to see the apartment/house you will possibly be living in together. Also be sure to tell a friend or family member of your plan so someone knows where you are and who you’re with.
Make sure they have a steady job/income
Since you will be splitting the cost of your living quarters with your roommate, it is imperative that they have enough income coming in to pay their part of the bills, rent, etc.
Find out what their lifestyle is like
Compatibility is key when it comes to choosing an ideal roommate. If you’re an early bird who likes to get to bed at a reasonable time, a night owl who is going to invite friends over at all hours of the night is most likely not the right fit for you.
Get the specifics in writing
Don’t keep things vague. When you’re signing up to live with someone you should get the details down in writing. Include how much they will be paying in rent and utilities, guidelines about having people over, how the chores will be split up between you, etc. This agreement will help assuage arguments down the road and fill in any potential gaps about what’s expected.
5 Important Questions To Ask Prospective Roommates
- Why are you looking for a new place to live? Answers citing reasons like to be closer to my workplace, or because the lease at my old place is ending tend to be good signs. Answers mentioning things like previous roommate drama could be red flags and a sign of things to come.
- What is your income and do you have a steady job? Asking someone to reveal their income to you may seem like a very personal thing, but that is essential information to know before saying yes to a roommate. Make sure that their income exceeds the amount needed to cover their portion of rent & bills and check-in to see that they have steady work and not a temporary position.
- What are the names and contact information of two references? Don’t be shy when it comes to asking for references. Ask specifically for landlords and past roommate references. These resources will give you insight into the habits of the person you may be living with like if they paid rent on time, if they were cleanly, respectful, etc.
- Do you have any pets? The last thing you want is to be surprised to see a dog in the middle of your living room while your new roommate is moving their belongings in. This is information you need to know not just for your sake, but for the sake of any pets you may already have or for the building/landlord’s sake since they may not allow pets.
- Are you alright with me running a background check on you? If the answer is no, this may not be the person you want to live with. You can’t be choosing a roommate based solely off of what they and a couple references tell you. You need to make sure that don’t have any sort of unsavory criminal background and that they have good credit.