For many, finding someone to split the cost of rent can be a fundamental part of city living. From New York City to San Francisco, luxury apartment living isn’t always within our budgets. Luckily, roommate living can have financial benefits and prove to be a valuable life experience.
In my most recent apartment search in Denver, I elected to choose a roommate online. Unfortunately, none of my friends were currently on the market for a new apartment and I wasn’t in a financial position to live alone any longer. Especially because I was trying to save money in an effort to pay off those pesky student loans. But the idea of picking a random roommate online made me nervous to say the least. Nonetheless, I sucked it up and started my search. I started by making a list of criteria for my future roomie. Female. 23-29 years of age. Non-smoker. Educated. Clean. Likes dogs (Rory is very affectionate). Individual budget equal to $850-$1100 per month. These were the things I knew for sure, so I took to Craigslist. I enlisted the help of a few friends too. After a few days, we came to find someone that met the criteria. And just a few days later, she and I had talked, felt comfortable with each other, and found a place to move into. Just a few days after moving in, I soon came to learn that it wasn’t a match made in heaven. And being stuck in a lease for 14 months was going to be painful. So here are the major pitfalls I experienced in picking a random roommate I found on Craigslist. Perhaps there are some lessons to be learned as well.
Finances are a sensitive topic. But when it comes to money, make sure your roommate is responsible. After all, both of your names are on the lease. I have had to remind my roommate to pay rent on time almost every month since we have been living together. Not just that, but she can’t seem to divide the total amount by two. So now I know to do the math for her and email her the amount she owes each month. The same is true for other bills like utilities, cable, etc. I feel like this could have been avoided if I had addressed it prior to living together by setting expectations for payment.
People have different temperature settings. I tend to run warm. My roommate runs cold. Come to a compromise on the temperature for the apartment. Then don’t stray from that without discussing it in advance. In the winter, space heaters are a great solution for bedrooms that need extra heat. And blankets are always a cozy solution.
There are various standards of clean. Personally, I’m a tad OCD. I don’t expect everyone to meet those same standards. However, there are a few non-negotiables when it comes to cleanliness. Trashcans should be emptied when they are full. Take the trashbags to the dumpster, don’t leave them on the floor. Dishes should be cleaned and promptly put away. Don’t leave them in the sink or on the counters. Vacuum weekly. Share use of the washer and dryer. House cleaning is a major point of contention when it comes to roommate living. Be sure to be transparent about your expectations for one another.
Pets are like an additional roommate. Especially my big dog. He’s as big as a child. And he likes attention. Set standards of who’s responsibility it is to take care of the dog and where the dog can be in the apartment. Since Rory is my dog, I do not expect that my roommate will walk him or feed him.
Ask Questions. LOTS of questions.
There are dozens of compatibility considerations to think about when choosing roommates. Write them down and review them. I learned that I didn’t ask nearly enough questions. As you will be in close quarters with this person, its important to feel comfortable with them.
Utilize multiple sites in your search.
Here are some websites that can help you find a match. I recommend looking at a few of them.
Meet Multiple Times.
Contrary to popular opinion, first impressions aren’t everything. While an initial meeting can tell you a lot about a person, multiple meetings can tell you even more. So try to learn as much as possible about this new person before agreeing to live together.