If you live in a pricey area or are on a tight budget, having roommates can make a whole lot of financial sense—that is, as long as they don’t drive you bananas. Which brings us to the question of how to find a roommate—and not just any roommate, but one you like or at least can tolerate and live with peacefully.
Here’s some guidance on how to pick right one so you won’t dread coming home. Or fear going to sleep.
Rooming with friends: Bad idea?
Sure, in an ideal world, you’d love to live with a fellow vegan who digs “Veep” as much as you, but being too picky can backfire. Remember, you aren’t searching for a new BFF. In fact, a word of caution goes out to anyone who’s pondering living with close friends. If said bosom buddy turns out to be perpetually strapped for cash, that long-term relationship might not be so long-term going forward. Yes, it’s totally fine to be pals with your roomie, but just understand that if it goes south you could ruin your friendship and finances at the same time. The worst kind of two-fer.
Given the perils of personality conflicts, make sure to scrutinize any prospects to weigh whether their values and lifestyle will mesh with your own. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your roommate:
Are you a morning person or a night person?
What do your weekends look like?
Do you smoke?
Are you a pet person?
Where do you work?
Are you dating?
Find a roommate or apartment first? How to decide
Another big question to ask is whether you plan to find a place first then search for a roommate, or find the roommate first then home hunt together. There are pros and cons to each scenario.
Prioritize finding an apartment, and you boost the odds that you can score a sun-drenched downtown two-bedroom that suits your tastes—yet you’ll be limited to roommates who share your aesthetic. Prioritize finding a roommate, on the other hand, and you boost the odds that you’ll find the perfect person, but then you may have to compromise and take that person’s ideal apartment into account—and that could prolong the home search.
In the best-case scenario, you’ll find someone who wants the same type of living quarters, which also ups the odds that this roommate will remain happy and stay put.
Where to find roommates
Here are some ways to find roommates.
Your social network:
Do your background research
Don’t feel guilty about doing some basic cybersleuthing. This, for better or worse, is what modern life is about. Read the potential roommates’ Facebook profiles (or at least what you can see of them) and dive into their Google results. Don’t judge them too harshly—writing bad “Harry Potter” fan fiction at 13 isn’t reason enough to reject someone—but keep an eye out for any troubling blogs or angry, vindictive Reddit comments. That could be a red flag that your roommate relationship could turn to the dark side and maybe you’re better off steering clear.
Should you both sign the lease?
You will also want to decide if you alone will sign the lease (and keep your roommate as a sublessor) or whether you will both sign this contract. Holding the lease by yourself might keep you in the driver’s seat on important decisions about the apartment (like whether to sign a one- or two-year contract), but it can leave you on the hook if a roommate bails on the apartment (i.e., you’ll have to pony up all the rent or find a new roommate pronto).
What do you think? Did we forget any tip on finding the perfect roommate? Chime in on the discussion on House Talk.