As well as saving cash each month, there are many reasons why you might seek out a roommate; such as making the most of your space or simply to stave off loneliness. Whatever the reason for your search, finding the perfect roommate can be a little tricky.
While there are countless positive roomie experiences, there are also numerous stories of stress, tension and unhappiness. The fact is, it’s difficult to really know someone and all their bad habits until you’ve lived with them – this can be true even of best friends! Fortunately, there are a few tips you can use to help you find the perfect roommate.
Habits and Needs
When searching for a roommate, it’s wise to remember you’re not necessarily looking for a new friend – it’s more important to find someone compatible. The best practice is to arrange meetings with all the potential candidates, preferably where they’re already living. In this way, you can take a peek into the way they live.
When you meet with a potential roommate, talk about your lifestyles and see if they’re compatible. It’s best to be direct and honest, bearing in mind that the more you know before signing the paperwork the better. If you find things out that you’re not happy with only after they’ve moved in, you’re pretty much stuck with their bad habits.
- Daily routine: are they a night owl or a morning lark? Do your working schedules match or is there a chance you could disrupt one another’s sleep?
- Cleaning habits: here it’s important to be on the same page, as resentment can soon build up. If you’re a clean freak, try to find someone who is equally meticulous about hygiene and who hates clutter as much as you do. On the other hand, if you’re happy to leave the dishes in the sink all day, you owe it to your potential roomie to let them know.
- Social life: are you a party animal, or do you prefer the quiet life? Can you live with someone who is always inviting their friends round? Would they be happy for your partner to visit 2 or 3 times a week? While these may seem like personal questions, it’s essential you’re both honest about your social needs and habits.
- Common areas: are you looking for someone who likes to hang out in the common areas or do you prefer someone who is more private? Will it annoy you if they like to watch TV until midnight?
- Who is your ideal roommate? Let them know what you’re looking for in an ideal roommate, tell them about your pet peeves and the things you cannot stand, but also ask about their needs and what annoys them. It will soon become apparent if you’re compatible or not.
Take Care of Money Matters
Once you’ve found someone who ticks all the right boxes when it comes to habits and needs, it’s time to get down to business. No matter how great a potential roommate seems, if they cannot keep up with the bills and rent payments, things will soon get uncomfortable. Ideally, you want to find a roommate with steady employment and savings.
Be frank and discuss how much they will be expected to pay each month in terms of rent, bills and any other services. It’s worth asking if they can provide a credit check; if they’re not too eager to do so, it may raise red flags. Remember, you’re not looking for a friend here, but someone to split your rent and utilities with each month, so regard this discussion as business rather than social.
When you know they’re not going to leave you in the lurch financially, it’s good to decide on the finer details before agreeing to anything. Living with someone, be they a stranger or someone you’ve known for years, can be challenging, but if you both know what to expect from one another, things will run a lot more smoothly.
Work out who will be responsible for what each month. Think about who will be responsible for ensuring the bills are paid on time, as well as things like arranging a cleaning rota, garbage disposal and whether you’ll share food or buy individually. To ensure you’re both happy it’s important to keep these tasks equal as much as possible. Before signing anything, you should both have a clear idea about how things will function once you’re living together.
Finding a roommate can take time and, if possible, it’s best to start looking at least a month in advance. This way you can speak with numerous candidates until you find the best match for you. With some probing questions and frank discussions, you and your new roommate should be on the same page and may even form a lifelong friendship!