Rent nowadays can be quite steep, especially if you are living in a big city. Rents have doubled in the last 10 years, making it extremely hard for people to be able to afford a place on their own. A great way around this is to live with someone else, thus splitting the rent plus some other living expenses, like hydro and internet.
Living with someone is not always easy and can sometimes be uncomfortable. Unlike dating, it is not easy to walk away from a roommate once problems start to arise. They can also turn out great and a new, bonding friendship can be formed. If you are thinking about sharing a living space with someone, here are 10 tips to finding the perfect roommate.
1. Ask friends and family
Living with a friend or family member is not the greatest idea, but they may know someone who is also looking. The plus side to this is that they know you well, so they will know if someone is a good match or not. This is sort of like dating, where someone you know sets you up with someone. Don’t shut the door on this when looking for a potential roommate.
The same is true for co-workers. In fact, sometimes a co-worker can make for a great roommate. Or, a co-worker may also know someone that is looking. Asking co-workers or posting a notice on a communal board at work could result in you finding the perfect person to live with.
2. Advertise online
There are a few places to look for a roommate online, including Craigslist, roomiematch.com and roomates.com. There are also Facebook pages in most big cities that serve as communities for people searching for roommates. If the friend and family thing doesn’t work, advertising is the next step. A great thing about finding a roommate online is that they are as eager to find a good match as you are.
It is important when advertising for a roommate online that you are very detail oriented. For example, if you have a pet or are allergic to animals these are important things to point out. If you work from home you may not want to live with someone else that does, so this is also an important detail to add. Age may be important to some, or not to others. If it is important to you should state this in your advert.
3. Ask Questions
Finding a roommate is like interviewing someone for a job or going on a first date. You want to know as much about that person as possible to see if they are a good fit. Ask as many questions as you can think of (that are of course relevant to living together) so that you can get the best feeling for each person before you make a final decision.
Questions will differ for each person and will depend on your lifestyle. Here are a few things you may want to inquire about:
- Their work schedule
- Their cleaning habits
- Whether or not they have had a roommate before and if so, why they went separate ways
- How loud do they like to play music and what type of music do they listen to
- Whether or not they like to have people over
- Whether or not they drink, smoke or do drugs
- If they have health problems
4. Find out what they expect from you
Also be prepared to answer a few questions yourself, as this goes both ways. They too will want to know as much as they can about you. Plus, you will want to know what they expect or are looking for in a roommate. This is as essential in the process as you asking them questions, as it will also allow you to get to know them better. Be as honest as you can, as to not cause tension in the future. This is what you would want, so it goes both ways.
When you know what a roommate expects from you, you can make the selection process that much easier. If they are a neat freak and you are not, this could be a red flag. If they like to have people over often and you prefer a quiet retreat, this too can cause problems in the future.
If, after you questioned them and they did the same, you feel it is not a good fit, be honest and say so. Don’t just move in with someone on the fly. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
5. Make sure they can contribute
This does not just mean financially, but also with chores. Make sure that you find someone that is compatible in terms of doing things around the apartment. Basically, be sure to set rules in place beforehand so that neither one of you is surprised once you do move in together.
The same is true of course for the bills. You need to be sure that your potential roommate is able to contribute to their share of the bills. You do not want to be stuck paying their portion of the rent, so ensuring that they can in fact afford the rent and the bills is a must. Otherwise you are asking for trouble.
6. Learn more about them
This may seem a bit harsh, but it will ensure your safety. Learn more about each potential roommate by looking into them. Check their references, their social media accounts and, if possible, do a background check. Many people actually have a copy of their credit report and can give you a copy. If someone is sketchy about getting these things for you take this is a huge red flag. They could have extremely bad credit, or worse, a criminal record.
Living with someone who is in huge amounts of debt could mean that they may have problems paying their share of the bills. So this is very important. As well, if they have a criminal record your safety could be at risk. If they have had roommates in the past ask if it is possible to contact them as a reference. Again, if they refuse take this is a red flag.
7. Find the perfect apartment
If you already have an apartment and are just looking for a new roommate or moving in to your new roommate’s place, this is irrelevant. If you are going to be looking for a new apartment together, finding the right place could be crucial to you and your new roommate. Here are a few things you should be considering:
- What your combined budget is
- How big you want the common areas to be
- How many bathrooms you want
- Privacy, meaning do you want bedrooms to be on opposite ends or even on separate floors
- Size of the apartment
Make sure these are agreed upon by both of you so that you can begin your search in finding the perfect apartment. Once you have found a few to look at make sure that you go together and that you are both part of the final decision making.
8. Get everything in writing
If you already have an apartment, or are moving in with someone who does, be sure to get everything in writing. This could be something as simple as getting an additional name added to the lease or drawing up a contract between the two of you. The contract should be clear about financial responsibilities like the rent, bills, etc. You may also want to put in writing any house rules that you have made in regards to having people over, chores, parties, etc.
If you have found a new place together this does not change. You will also want to decide whether or not you want both names on the lease or just one. Having both names means you could be locked in for the year, even if things go sour. But it also ensures that you are both responsible for the rent and any damages made to the property. If only one name is on the lease it means that one of you is solely responsible. But it also means that if things don’t go well the person who is not named on the lease can easily move out.
If you opt for this scenario, be sure to have a legal lease between the two of you, as if one is renting from the other. Standard leases and forms can easily be found online, so this is not hard to do.
9. Decide how to decorate
First, figure out between the two of you what furniture you have and what you may need. This will make it easier once you are moved in. If you are moving into an existing apartment you may only need to bring your bedroom furniture. The same is true if they are moving into your apartment. These are things to find out ahead of time.
You will then want to talk about how to decorate. One or both of you may have things that are important to you, like family antiques, pictures, rugs, etc. Find these things out. Then the fun can begin. If you need things for the apartment (furniture, window coverings, decorations, etc) you can hit the shops together and buy things that you both like. This could be a great way to bond. It will also make the apartment feel like a home to both of you.
10. Make the move
If you are moving to a new place together, co-ordinate moving times to make it swift and easy. You may even want to get movers together, or rent a van and do it yourselves. If one of you already lives in the space, find a day and time that works for both of you.
Once everything is moved in and set up, order take-away, relax and get to know each other. Don’t forget to congratulate yourselves on finding the perfect roommate.