Most roommate searches start the same way: you ask your friends. While living with a close friend seems like a logical choice – many friendships have crumbled over the stress of the hasty decision.
Use these tips when considering someone, even a good friend, to live with you.
Don’t rush it. Take your time ensuring the candidate is a good fit for you and your living environment. A noisy and rowdy friend may not be the best choice in a close-knit, quiet apartment community.
Try to learn as much about their daily habits as possible. Common items to ask about are:
Frequency of hosting social events
Do they like to play or listen to music without headphones?
Are they allergic to any sort of food or pets?
Do they smoke, drink, or use drugs?
If you don’t know the person well, ask for references or inquire to mutual friends. Asking to speak with past roommates may alert you to some bad habits before you commit.
Try to verify their financial situation as best you can. A roommate relationship can quickly sour when someone doesn’t have the funds to pay for rent, bills, or food. If you don’t know the person at all, consider running a background check.
Once you’ve found your ideal candidate, try to work through how you will organize and split rent, bills, and food costs. 50/50 splits are common, but some may prefer split based on usage (a roommate who works from home and runs the AC all day may rack up quite the electricity bill).
Sometimes, a roommate will be joining you in an apartment you already occupy. Other times, you’ll need to make the search together. Whichever it is, you should ask a few important questions before signing on the dotted line.
Typically, large bedrooms and a slightly smaller communal space is the ideal layout for living with a roommate. This design lets you maximize your own personal oasis and keeps personal belongings relatively segregated. However, you still need to decide how communal areas will be used and organized. Some people have larger televisions, furniture, art, or accent pieces that they wish to have in the living room instead of their bedroom. These questions should be answered before you pick out a place.
That white leather loveseat sure is beautiful – but it may make for an awkward seating arrangement with your new roommate (especially if you don’t know them that well yet). Take an inventory of what furniture both of you are bringing to the table (pun intended), then come up with a list of items you still need. Many purchase furniture 50/50 with roommate – but be cautious, as that can lead to custody challenges when your living arrangement changes. If you do split purchases, keep records of how much items cost, so they can be bought out when you part ways.
With two people comes twice the items to store. If personal belongings like books and movies will be stored together in common areas, be sure to label whose is whose. You can also sperate your personal items by shelf (though this can be tough in smaller spaces). Alternatively, you can use color-coordinated bins to help keep things separated. Ikea carries lots of different color and style bins to help keep you organized.
Fighting for closet space is another common issue – especially those who enjoy the outdoors and have lots of gear. Just like furniture, discuss beforehand how much space each of you anticipates needing.
When sharing a space with someone for an extended period, someone is bound to step on your toes (both metaphorically and physically). Be open about behaviors or habits that are causing tension – but don’t forget that you probably have a few of those habits yourself.
Don’t assume that your roomie knows what you’re thinking at any given point. And of course, always follow The Golden Rule.
Establish chores responsibilities early. Make it clear that dishes should be washed the person who made them, or alternate the cleaning of the kitchen and bathroom. Want something more fun? Consider using a chore wheel or a game to determine who's responsible for what. Just make sure it’s fair to avoid hurt feelings and resentment (probably best to avoid Monopoly).
One of the biggest pieces of advice when dealing with a roommate is to be direct. While it may be easy to leave a sticky-note expressing your displeasure with the stack of dishes growing in the sink, many view this as being passive-aggressive. Be direct, but polite, and people tend to respond positively.