Choosing a roommate is hard. But, many of us can’t afford to live alone. You don’t really want to be inviting a stranger into your personal space, in case things go wrong, but you could also be opening yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Whether you are looking for somebody to move in with you, or you are searching to move in with one or more people, a bit of planning can go a long way. Use the following tips to pick and choose the perfect roomie and avoid uncomfortable living situations.
Look outside your friendship circle
Just because you enjoy going out and ripping up the town together, it doesn’t mean you are compatible with living together. You never really know a person until you live with them.
It’s advisable to find a roommate outside of your friend circles. Use the classifieds or your social media connections. Although it seems a little weird to be inviting a stranger into your life, you could possibly end up with a new friend. And if things ‘go south’, you haven’t lost a good friend either.
Figure out where you stand of the essentials
This is so you can ask the right questions. Think about where you stand on:-
Let’s be honest, dirty roomies make terrible roomies for clean freaks. The opposite isn’t so devastating. Think about where you are on the cleanliness spectrum. How would you feel if someone left the dishes in the sink all night for the cockroaches to feast on? Do you mind the bathroom not being cleaned for a month? You get the picture. Remember, that cleanliness correlates with organization and house chores. If a person is clean, they are more likely to pull their weight around the house.
Do you prefer to keep to yourself or get out there and mix it with the crowd, 24/7? That is why you should figure out where you are on your privacy levels and try to find someone who doesn’t differ too much. Otherwise, it is going to affect your mental health. Most people need a time out and private spaces to process thoughts, feelings and emotions. Some things to think about – whether you feel you need to close your door when someone else you don’t know is around. Would you be OK for your roomie taking your food from the fridge occasionally? Get it worked out in your head before you have to deal with the conflict.
How bothered are you about noise? Would you freak if someone came home at 1am with a group of people and started the music up without inviting you to join them? Are you a shift worker?
Asking the hard questions when interviewing a potential roomie
Consider making a list of questions around these issues.
- The persons work and leisure schedule.
- Drinking, smoking and drugs.
- Visitors to the home – especially at odd times.
- The loudness of music and TV
- How much TV they usually watch in common spaces?
- Whether they mind sharing household items or prefer to use only their own.
- Whether they have any health concerns you should know about.
- What type of work they do? Warning – A conservative speechwriter for a local politician you despise, is going to clash with your non-for-profit food bank venture that just got shut down by the same politician because he didn’t like the homeless people two blocks away from his office. Some people just aren’t a match, no matter how nice both are.
Expect that the potential roommate is going to ask you similar questions as well.
Figure out the money before signing on the dotted line
You are most likely looking to be a roommate or find a roommate to save money. But there are some essentials you need to deal with regarding the budget before you make your final decision. Hash out the utilities, rent, furniture, shared groceries etc. upfront. Always know how they will be paying. For some, cash is king, but others, you can prefer to set up a regular bank transfer. That way, you won’t be chasing each other around for weeks collecting money. It is one way to avoid miscommunication and conflict.
Always be open and straightforward if you have a problem with your roommate. Letting problems fester is terrible for both of you. Be respectful in all communication, but know that if there is a problem, it needs to be dealt with straight away. Let them know this during the interview process. Maybe organize a fortnightly check-in to make sure everything is running smoothly. That way, you have the opportunity if you need it without making awkward requests for their time.
Deciding on which person fits a roommate-ship best is dependent on figuring out what you are compatible with and then asking the right questions.
Make sure you do the groundwork first. Your next roommate could potentially be your future best mate; don’t let them be your biggest regret.