Finding the perfect roommate is a difficult and frustrating task. While living with a friend
or already-established acquaintance is often preferred, you may not know anyone looking for a place. If you have to search the internet or newspaper for potential roommates, keep an eye out for the following red flags to avoid ending up with a disastrous living situation.
They have a strange ad
When searching for prospective roommates on Craigslist or other classified sites, pay close attention to their wanted ads. The ad is your first insight into your potential roommate's personality, and can provide some good, clear hints. Does he make a lot of strange demands? Seeking a roommate that's non-smoking or shares similar interests is not unusual, but banning non-organic food from the apartment may be a bit extreme. Also, be wary of anyone looking for specific gendered roommates or attractive applicants only--it may not be the kind of living situation you are looking for.
They don't have good references
You should never sign a lease with anyone without asking for references. Be wary of a roommate that fails to provide contact information from former roommates--she is probably hiding something. Of course, if you call her references and find out that she is loud, lazy, and often late with rent, you can assume living with her will not be a pleasant experience.
They party a lot
This may not always be a red flag, depending on what you are looking for in a roommate. However, if you check his Facebook page and every in every single photo he has a Solo cup in his hand, it may be safe to say that he will be out late often, possibly noisy, and potentially irresponsible with money.
They don't have a job
This one is pretty obvious. but never assume any potential roommate is working. Even if she admits to not having a job, but promises she has adequate funds saved and is actively searching for work--you are taking a pretty big risk. Ensure your new roommate has a continued means of income to prevent being stuck with the entire rent bill each month when her money runs out. Always ask if she has a job before signing a lease--you are also well within your rights to ask about her pay to ensure she is capable of making rent each month.
They are messy
This may be difficult to determine prior to cohabitation. However, if you are the one moving into his apartment, you can scope out his cleanliness habits when you check the place out. Is the sink full of dishes? Are his dirty clothes all over the bathroom? Does the place smell fresh? If he is the one joining your lease or you would both be moving into a new place at the same time, try to set up a meeting at his current residence to see how he lives. You can also scope out his social media page for a little insight and photographic evidence of his home and habits.
How to avoid a bad roommate
- Ask questions. The best way to avoid ending up with an unpleasant roommate is to ask a lot of questions. Do you have a job? What kind of work do you do? Do you smoke? What are your cleaning habits? What hours do you work? What do you enjoy doing in your free time? The more you know about the person, the easier it will be to determine if your schedules, lifestyles and personalities are compatible.
- Scope out social media. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her other social media pages to find out more about her lifestyle and interests. Is she partying in every photo posted? Does she have Satanism listed as an interest? Does she post frequent statuses or tweets about how broke she is or how much she hates doing laundry? Social media is one of the best tools at your disposal to learn more about possible roommates.
- Check references. Always ask interested roommates for references and call them. Calling past roommates is crucial to find out what kind of person he is to live with. Of course, remember that the references he provides could be fake--such as phone numbers of friends and not impartial past roommates. You may want to ask for a reference from a former landlord as well.
- Ask around. Rather than find a roommate in the classifieds, ask friends and family if they know anyone looking for a place. If someone you know vouches for her, she is more likely to be a trustworthy and pleasant roommate.