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First-Time Apartment Renter: How to Find a Roommate

First-Time Apartment Renter: How to Find a Roommate
4 min. read
two roommates sitting on the couch

Image: Nikodash / Shutterstock.com

If you’re keen to move into your first apartment but can’t quite afford to go it alone, you’ve probably considered sharing your future pad with a roommate. Of course, this can be easier said than done and moving in with the wrong person can make life in your new apartment unbearable.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to help any first-time apartment renter find their ideal roommate.

Think with Your Head, Not Your Heart

The biggest mistake many first-time apartment renters make is to think about their roommate primarily as a friend. This is all very nice, but sometimes, no matter how well you get on with someone, living together just won’t work. In fact, moving in with a friend without thinking things through can severely strain your relationship.

Often, you don’t truly know someone until you’ve lived together. So, when choosing a roommate, you’ve got to approach the task with cold, hard logic. It’s a bit like hiring someone; you need to interview them and make sure they’re responsible enough to trust with your future apartment.

Figure out Who Your Ideal Roommate Is

Before meeting anyone, it’s good to have a clear idea of who your ideal roommate would be. Get this down on paper and also consider what behavior would drive you crazy. Be honest here and draw up a list of things that you couldn’t cope with to help you filter out incompatible roommates.

Meet Potential Roommates to Discuss the Essentials

A good roommate is someone you’re compatible with. So, before you agree to move in with someone, it’s essential to know that you’re on the same page on a whole host of issues. Ideally, it would help if you met with potential roomies in their current abode to get a sneak peek at how they live.

The next step is to sit down and discuss with each candidate their habits. Find out their daily routine: are they a morning lark or a night owl? Do they work from home or spend most of their time out of the house? The closer their habits align with yours, the better. And make sure that they don’t break any of the requirements you drew up in the previous step.

Next, find out about their social habits. Are they a party animal, out until the early hours and frequently having friends over? Or do they prefer smaller, quieter gatherings? In regards to cleaning, are they neat freaks, or are they happy to leave the vacuuming for another day? Again, the more your habits match in these areas, the better.

Be Honest about Your Own Habits

During these interviews, be prepared to discuss your own habits and needs as well. Find out what their pet peeves are, and if you’re guilty of them, own up. At this stage, you’ve nothing much to lose. However, after you’ve moved in with someone, it’s much more difficult, and you could be living in a stressful environment until your lease runs out.

Financial Obligations

So, you’ve found someone who ticks all the right boxes. But your quest for a great roommate isn’t over yet, and it’s essential to talk money. Remember to use your head here and treat this as a business transaction. Often, when you’re sharing an apartment, if one of you misses a rent payment, both parties can suffer.

Discuss the financial obligations of both parties and ensure that your potential roommate can meet these responsibilities. Ideally, they should be financially secure, with a regular income and some savings put aside for emergencies. People don’t often like to talk about money with a stranger, but if you’re going to be sharing the financial responsibility of renting an apartment, it’s important to know where you both stand.

Agree on the Logistics

As the search nears its conclusion, the final thing to do is discuss the logistics of living together. There are many small details that can become big problems if they’re not addressed early on, so be sure to cover these in advance. Decide who is responsible for tasks such as:

  • Making sure the utility bills are paid each month
  • Communicating with the landlord
  • Cleaning task — maybe draw up a rota
  • Buying food and groceries — do you buy individually or communally? Think about things like oil, salt, pepper, toilet paper, garbage sacks, and other sundries that you’ll both use.

Also, discuss common spaces. Where are the common areas, and what is allowed there? Is smoking allowed on the balcony? Can friends visit and hang out in the kitchen?

Get It in Writing

After discussing everything, it’s important to get it in writing. A written ‘roommate agreement’ has more weight than an oral one, and you can refer to it in case of disputes.

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