There are many benefits of having a roommate. You can often afford a more luxurious apartment when you share the financial responsibility with another person. Roommates can also make living in a new city a little less lonely. Yet, for every benefit, there are countless horror stories about hellish roommates and security deposits lost. The guy who peed in the sink. The girl who always ate your food. The guests that threw your couch off the balcony while partying. The unauthorized dog that trashed your carpet. With careful selection and planning, however, it is possible to find a responsible person to share your space with.
Make a List. Finding a roommate should be treated in much the same way as apartment searching or job hunting. Make a list of the attributes you are looking for. A good friend doesn’t always make a good roommate. Ideally, you want someone who:
- Keeps the same hours as you
- Has the financial ability to pay rent
- Respects your privacy
- Is willing to share household chores
It is important to determine what you are willing to share and know your limits before they are put to the test by someone else.
Get the Word Out. Gone are the days of placing classified ads to find someone to share the rent with. Most people find that it is more effective to ask around than advertise. Ask your coworkers, friends or family members if they know anyone who is looking for a place to live that meets your criteria. Crowdsourcing on social media sites is also a good way to find a roommate. You might also find someone through your alumni association.
Meet in Person. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. Take the time to meet potential rent-sharers in person and ask them questions. Be sure to ask them about their personal habits and about their previous cohabitation experiences. How they handle conflict is especially important. Ultimately, you should trust your instincts when selecting someone to live with. If something seems off, it probably is.
Protect Yourself. Before handing over the keys to your apartment, it is a good idea to protect yourself by taking a few legal precautions.
- Run a credit check
- Verify employment
- Ask for references
- Sign a roommate agreement
Depending on the terms of your lease, you may also need to clear any additional occupants of your apartment with the on-site manager.
Do you have any other tips for finding the perfect roommate? Tell us how you avoid the horror stories.