Rent is expensive. Even a small one-bedroom or studio apartment is going to cost you a pretty penny, especially in a city. One of the primary and most obvious pleasures of having a roommate is not having to shoulder the entirety of the rent by yourself. Find and move in with compatible roommates to share the financial burden.
A roommate is someone you will be sharing a living space with, so you want to find someone you'll get along with and who is trustworthy. If you don't know anybody like that who can live with you, then you will have to resort to other measures in order to find that person.
Know what you are looking for in a roommate
Do you plan on splitting the rent evenly with your potential roommate, or are you taking a much bigger bedroom in the apartment? How do you want to pay for utilities and groceries? You'll need to provide this information to your potential roommate, so they can make an informed decision about living with you.
You also know yourself and what you can handle. Do you need a neat-freak or someone who can put up with a mess? Are you looking for a roommate who will allow you peace and quiet to study at home or one you can hit the town with? Ask yourself what personality traits are essential and which ones you can do without.
Ask around to find a roommate that's looking for an apartment
If you are going to be living with a stranger, at least make it a stranger people you trust can vouch for. Ask your friends, family or co-workers if they know anyone looking for a place to live. However, consider the source of the lead. If the guy in the cubicle next to you is a slob, you might not want to move in with his twin brother.
This is the easiest way to meet your potential roommate ahead of time this way. Have the person who gave you the information bring it up to their acquaintance and meet for coffee or lunch.
On the other hand, you may have hired someone to show you various apartment buildings. You can always ask this agent or broker if they know of anyone that needs a roommate or an apartment. Many times, agents will have clients looking for roommates or spare rooms. Although real estate agents may not be friends or family members, they will have the professionalism to recommend someone with similar living habits (to the best of their knowledge).
Place a roommate advertisement online or in a newspaper
Community bulletin boards, local newspapers and online classified services are all great places to advertise your need for a roommate. There are several websites that are entirely dedicated to helping housemates find one another.
Include the following in your write-up:
- A description of the apartment
- Cost of rent/living expenses
- What kind of roommate you're looking for
- Your contact information
Newspaper ads can seem like a thing of the past, but they are paid for and can weed out any potential scammers or questionable people you may not feel comfortable meeting.
Sites like Craigslist can be a breeding ground for people looking to take advantage of you, but if you play it safe, it still could very well be a viable option. A few things you should keep in mind while browsing through Craigslist:
- Beware of anyone that does not list a specific town or city, because scammers only include counties and/or states
- Don't give out any personal information when you respond
- Introduce yourself using your first name only
- Include a sentence or two about what you're looking for
- See what kind of response you get before delving into anything further
- If the response seems automated or unrelated, it's probably a scam
- Search for the email address to see if other people have been scammed by this person
- Do not give any bank or credit card information to anyone
- Plan to meet somewhere neutral like a diner or coffee shop -- not your home address
Meet potential new roommates before moving in
Try to have a conversation with the person by phone first. If, from this chat, you know you don't want to meet him or her face-to-face, then you won't be wasting anybody's time. If you do want to meet, find a mutually convenient time and public place to talk. Ask about any previous roommate experiences they've had and share your own. This will be a pretty good gauge of whether you will be compatible.
TIP: You may want to verify whether the person is employed. They shouldn't depend on you for rent.
Provide your potential roommate with references, and they should reciprocate. Be wary of any callers related to the person. The best references are previous landlords and building superintendents.
It takes work to get along peacefully with roommates
There are always going to be bumps along the way when it comes to living with other people. There will be disagreements, arguments, awkward moments and everything else that comes along with cohabitation. The key to surviving these moments is to know how to handle them in a responsible and respectful way.
Here are some tips for how to get along with your roommates:
- Respect their privacy at all times: Some people value their privacy more than others. While you may be more open and carefree about your personal space and alone time, others are more guarded and need their space. The best way to handle the situation is to always err on the side of caution. That means knocking before you enter their room and respecting their privacy.
TIP: Personal space extends beyond the obvious and into the fridge.
- Clean up after yourself: If you're already a clean and organized person, this isn't something you'll have to worry about. But if you're not, you should start learning how to become one. Nothing can soil a perfectly functional roommate relationship quite like a messy one who leaves dirty clothes on the couches or wet towels on the bathroom floor. And what if your roommate happens to be the messy one? Well that's something you'll have to bring up eventually and work towards resolving together.
- Be on time with the rent: If you are moving in with roommates and contributing rent, don't be late with your payment. Money quickly causes tension among roommates. It's also an extremely hard thing to discuss, because money is such a sensitive subject. If you know you're going to be late, tell your roommates prior to when rent is due. Chances are, if you're upfront and honest about your situation, they'll understand and work through it with you.
- Creating ground rules and resolving disputes peacefully: It's always good to lay down a set of ground rules from the very start. These rules will provide your living situation with a set of boundaries that will likely make living together a lot easier and more comfortable for the both of you.
TIP: Even if you're significant others, you don't have to hang out 100 percent of the time. Learn to spend time apart, and it will help your relationship reach a new level.
- Communicate when you are upset: Take time to sit down with your roommate(s) and discuss openly what kind of problems you're experiencing and ask them if they have any issues. Putting them on the table and having a constructive conversation about resolving them will go a lot further than harboring quiet resentment that will only manifest itself in other forms later.
- Inform them that guests are coming over: You don't have to ask permission, or give an explanation, but a little notice would be nice. Remember, you're not the only one living there. If they want to watch an episode of "Cops" in their underwear and come home to find a group of your friends playing Guitar Hero in the common area, they may be a little disappointed.
- Share responsibilities and divide duties: When you live with one or more people, there's going to be initial tension regarding who will handle certain household chores. The work should be equally balanced, so no one feels like the others aren't pulling their weight.
TIP: Make a schedule of when each person is responsible for certain household chores like doing dishes, taking out garbage and cleaning the bathroom to avoid any unnecessary arguments down the road.
You must learn to be flexible for a successful living arrangement
If you're having a disagreement with your roommate over cleaning your apartment, this is not the time to be petty and childish. Instead of pouting in your room like a toddler, discuss the problem and come to an agreement. Maybe they got their days mixed up. Why not switch chores for the day?
You must be willing to bend a little; otherwise, nothing is going to be fixed. If you see accumulation in the dishwasher, unload it. It may take 5 minutes of your time, but it can help your roommate big time.