There is more than one reason to live with a roommate. The most prolific reason is to share the bills associated with everyday living. Since it can be a little challenging to find a studio or single bedroom apartment nowadays, you will likely be stuck with having a roommate. When I, Mark Roemer, was in college, I had several roommates. Over the years, I was able to select my roommates rather than have them assigned to me by the school.
Having a roommate seems to go one of two ways. The first way is a great experience, and you never want them to leave. The second way is a terrible experience, and you can’t wait for them or you to move out.
If you are looking for the Chandler to your Joey – a roommate, a best friend, and a confidant – you may not be approaching this too realistically. The most important thing, when choosing a roommate, it to be convinced in your mind that they are trustworthy and reliable. Below, you will find several ways that you can make that happen.
Start by asking your family and friends if they know anyone looking for a roommate. After all, they know you pretty well and understand what kind of personality would mesh with yours. The one thing I would tell you to avoid is moving in with an excellent friend. Your friendship works now. What would happen to the bond if that person turned out to be a terrible roommate? Chances are, the relationship would sour, and you will lose a housemate, but you will also lose a perfect friend.
Living with a recommended person is not quite the same as living with a stranger. If this secondary friend is good enough to be friends with your friend, chances are they are not that bad of a person. The mutual friend shares something in common with you as you both befriended the same person.
Even though you had a recommendation from a friend or family member, you should not dive face-first into living with the person. Obtain a list of several people that want to share the space with you. Ask them over to the place you intend on renting and show them around. After, you can go out for a cup of coffee and talk about the things that matter most to you.
Start by being completely upfront with your intentions. Let them know what you expect from them. After you have finished, let them share the same information with you. Take notes and rate them on a scale of one to ten (ten being the person you want to live with).
Once you have interviewed all the candidates, narrow the field down to the top three or five (depending on the number of people you talked to). Ask them out to something more than coffee. Explain that you want to get to know them better before making a decision. Yes, this does sound like dating, but you will see a lot of them. You will also be relying on them to pay the rent and do their fair share around the apartment. So, it stands to reason you would need to get to know them a little better.
Ask for References
This may sound a little strange if a friend or family member recommends one of the candidates. Just remember, unless that friend or a family member has lived with the person, they are only speculating how they are as a roommate.
For this part, you are going to want to ask the last few people they have lived with to provide you with a list of people of which they have lived. Once you have the list, contact the people on the list. Talk to them about how the person was to live with regularly. While the candidate likely gave you a list of people that are going to say nice things about them, they may give you some insight into how living with the person is going to be.
The best way to coax a story out of them is to ask them to tell you about their favorite time with them. If the story involves partying or doing something you don’t care for, it might be time to move on to the next candidate.
Get It in Writing
While most of the country does recognize the verbal contract, written contracts hold a lot more weight in court. Ensure that you get the person you are going to be living with to sign the lease or sublease agreement. This will provide you both with legal grounds if the other one neglects to pay their share of the rent or causes property damage.
Trust is one thing, but you should not put so much trust in someone that you know for such a short time. You will both feel better if you sign the lease together. I know the one time I didn’t have someone sign the contract, I regretted it when all was said and done. After that, I would never have lived with someone that didn’t share the burden of the property’s financial payments.
And there you have it. These are some simple ways that you can select a roommate in which to share your life. I am not going to say it is going to be easy to find a roommate. You will have a lot of work to do. You will be happy that you took the additional steps. I, Mark Roemer, know that after several failed roommates, I took each of these steps very seriously. If the potential roommate ticked all the boxes, but they were unwilling to take the process seriously, that would be enough to remove them from the list. I don’t have time for people that would live with someone without thinking the steps are an essential part of living together. I wish you all the best in locating the roommate of your dreams. Happy hunting!