Have you decided you don’t want (or can’t afford) to live alone and want to find a roommate?
Finding people interested in sharing your living space is not so difficult. You can reach out to your friends or turn to roommate matching services online, such as the Craigslist or Roomie Match. These services allow you to create an ad or profile, search their vast databases, and pick the best candidates.
But how do you know who is the right choice for you? While living with a roommate is a great way to reduce the costs of living, it can also result in a number of not-so-great situations: belated rent payments, laziness, poor hygiene, lots of noise… Such situations can make your home a place you don’t want to live in.
For this reason, some thinking and planning beforehand can be very helpful. Here are 8 tips that will help you find the perfect person and create a happy living situation.
1. Know Yourself
Before you start searching for a roommate, think about your expectations. What exactly are you looking for? Are you looking for someone who shares your interests? Or are you an introvert person and you’d rather live with someone who minds their own business? Finding a great roommate is all about compatibility.
So, take your time. Don’t just go for the first person that comes along. Give yourself a month or so to consider as many candidates as possible. This way you’ll increase the chances of finding a kind, considerate person to share your home with.
2. Know Your Potential Roommate
Once you’ve determined your expectations, the next step is to find out how your potential roommate lives.
The best way to figure this out is by asking tons of questions. Do they go out a lot or spend most of their time at home? Do they want to be alone or like having people around all the time? Do they stay up late listening to loud music? Do they hate loud music? What kinds of foods do they eat, and do they have any dietary restrictions like being vegan or gluten free?
Finding a perfect match is impossible, but this will help you get as close as possible. You’ll decide which bad habits you’re willing to tolerate and avoid negative surprises in the future.
3. Pay Attention to Details
Asking the above-listed questions will allow you to narrow down the list of potential candidates. Once you’ve selected the top two or three candidates, take the time to learn more about them.
People tend to present themselves in the best light and sometimes they’ll say exactly what you want to hear (for instance, no one will say they’re a slob). That’s why it is wise to schedule the interviews at your prospective roommate’s place. This will give you an opportunity to scan their living space and notice potential red flags. Are there too many dirty dishes in the kitchen? Is the trash full? Is the person gossiping during the interview? Are there any empty wine bottles lying around? Chances are, these things will only get worse when you move in together.
4. Check Their Background
Does this seem unnecessary to you? Well, unless your future roommate is someone you know from before, there’s no chance of knowing what kind of person you’re dealing with. Sure, social network profiles can provide you with some basic info about a person, but to stay on the safe side, you might want to run a credit check or even check their criminal background. If your potential roommate accepts this without objection, they probably have nothing to hide. However, if they object, you should ask yourself why.
5. Living with a Friend
Just because someone is a great friend, it doesn’t mean he or she is a great roommate. In fact, many friendships have ended after living together.
So, if your friend offers to be your roommate, treat them as you would treat any other potential candidate: ask them the same questions to determine if you’re compatible, analyze their habits in the current living space, and evaluate their financial situation (for instance, if your friend already owes you money, chances are renting with them will be problematic.
6. Discuss Cleaning
Everyone has different ideas of what makes a living space clean. That’s why you need to come clean about your home hygiene expectations. Are you obsessed with order and insist on the last speck of dust being removed? Maybe you’re OK with a couple of cups in the sink? Are you someone who doesn’t give a darn about cleaning?
The best approach is simply asking the potential roommate about their cleaning habits. If they say something like “I don’t have time for cleaning”, then you’re probably talking to a slob. If they suggest four times a week as a normal cleaning schedule, then they’re probably a little obsessed. But everything is fine as long as you’re both on the same page. If you and your potential roommate have different ideas of cleanliness, arguments are likely to break out quite frequently.
7. Discuss Money
After home hygiene, paying the rent and bills is probably the most common reason for a strained living situation.
Inform your potential roommate about the monthly expenses, including the rent, food expenses (if you prefer to share them), as well as every single bill. In addition, make sure they are able to cover the said expenses (for this reason, someone who has a steady job is preferred).
8. Find the Perfect Living Space
The rule of thumb is: the bigger the apartment, the better. Bigger spaces with separate bedrooms will allow both you and your roommate privacy and autonomy (which means fewer arguments and confrontations). However, if this isn’t possible, consider living with someone who is rarely at home.
Besides space, you also need to consider other things that could disrupt your normal daily life, such as pests (mice, bedbugs, and roaches), mildew & mold which aren’t immediately visible, noises from the street and from other apartments, back billing, etc.
Living with a roommate isn’t always easy, so defining the expectations before you move in together may prevent lots of conflicts.
Signing a roommate agreement is a great way to manage the roommate relationship effectively by determining acceptable roommate behavior, defining each party’s financial obligations, and clearly establishing household chores & shared spaces.