Whether you’re a college student or young professional, living with a roommate is a smart way to manage expenses. However, it can also be a risky move because roommates can cause a variety of problems. How do you find a reliable roommate whose personality meshes well with your own? Read the following tips to help you find a roommate that will not only save you money but also make your life easier.
Interview Your Roommate
Searching for a roommate is a lot like looking for the perfect employee, except it’s probably even more important because you’ll have to live with the person you choose. When you meet with potential roommates, see it as searching for the perfect candidate for a job. Ask specific questions so that you don’t encounter any surprises. Be clear about your habits and lifestyle so that they also know what to expect. Some questions to ask:
- How to they plan on paying rent?
- Why are they in the area (school, work, etc.)?
- How committed are they to staying in the area?
- What are their working and sleeping schedules?
- Do they plan on bringing over friends? If so, how often?
- Are they willing to share cleaning responsibilities?
Discuss how all expenses (including household supplies) will be shared, how chores will be divided, what noise levels are acceptable and if/when others are allowed to visit.
It may seem crazy to ask for references from a potential roommate, but it’s the best way to assess his or her character and reliability. Preferably, the references will be from former roommates, but if they haven’t had roommates you may ask for character references from employers or long-time friends. You should aim to get at least three non-family references.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, and a background check is important because you never know what’s lurking in someone’s past. A criminal can put on a good act in order to gain access to your valuables. A clean background check doesn’t guarantee that your roommate won’t steal your laptop or rent money, but it does offer some peace of mind.
Living with Friends
There are positives and negatives to rooming with friends. One huge positive is that you know the person and don’t have to be as concerned about theft or being in a dangerous situation. A big downside is that a friendship may be ruined if you don’t share similar ideas about cleanliness. finances and noise levels. If you’re considering rooming with a friend, have an honest discussion about what’s important (noise levels, shared cleaning duties, visitors, etc.). Just because someone is a good friend doesn’t mean they’ll make a good roommate.
Finding the right apartment is only half the battle. Choosing a roommate requires just as much work as looking for a place to live. A roommate can make either your life miserable or more enjoyable, so the decision to share your living space should not be made lightly.