Finding the right roommate is always a tricky situation, especially if you’re new in town and can’t get roommate recommendations from anyone. More than likely you’ll find someone who’s completely fine, but there’s always a chance you’ll end up with a horrible roommate story, so make sure you’re looking for all the right qualities.
Our friends at mortgages.com share some things you must remember when finalizing an agreement with your new roommate.
They Can Pay The Rent
It sounds really obvious, but you should always make sure your potential roommate knows exactly how much they’re expected to pay each month in rent, utilities, and any other fees or dues for the apartment. The last thing you want is to be footing your roommate’s share of the electric bill just so you can keep the lights on.
This is a great time to also ask if they’d be willing to do a credit and background check just to make sure they’re able to pay. A lot of apartment complexes will actually sign separate leases for each person living in the apartment or at least require that each person submit to a background check, in which case they’ll be able to take care of all that for you.
They Have References
There’s nothing like a good reference to set your mind at ease. You might want to ask if they can give you names of people they’ve lived with in the past. Don’t be afraid to check social media to see if you have mutual friends, especially if you went to the same school or are from the same hometown. Chances are you do and it’s an easy way to get an outside perspective on the person you’re going to be living with.
You Can Agree On Ground Rules
Fans of the Big Bang Theory know all about Sheldon’s famous roommate agreement that covers everything from bathroom time to overnight guests. It sounds pretty crazy when he says it, but it’s actually not a bad idea to get some things down in writing. You probably don’t need a rule about how away from the mirror you can floss, but you should be able to agree on things like how to divide the chores for the common areas, how you’ll split costs for shared items (like cleaning supplies), and whether or not you’ll share food or keep everything separate.
Their Schedule Doesn’t Conflict With Yours
You and your roommate don’t have to be best friends and spend every waking hour together. But it’s good to know if your schedules are going to conflict a lot. If your roommate’s work schedule has them coming in at 3 a.m., wide awake, and ready to catch up on Netflix until 5 a.m., that noise might cause some problems for you if you have to be up at for work at 6 a.m. That doesn’t mean opposite schedules are a deal breaker, just something you need to be aware of so you can accommodate each other.
You Agree On Entertaining In The Apartment
If your idea of a great get together is a small dinner party and a bottle or two of wine then you’re probably going to have some issues if your roommate wants to throw a big party every weekend. Try asking what sorts of things they like to do for fun on the weekend—and don’t be afraid to be upfront and just say you don’t want any big parties in the apartment (or that you do!) if that’s important to you.
Their Significant Other Won’t Be A Third Roommate
If you live with someone long enough you can expect that they’ll eventually have a boyfriend or girlfriend who stays at the house occasionally. But if their significant other is always there it can start to feel like you’re an unwanted house guest in your own apartment. Ask your roommate how many nights per week they expect to have overnight guests. If it seems like a lot a good compromise might be that your roommate stays over the boyfriend or girlfriends house the same number of nights that they stay at your apartment. That way you can be guaranteed some time without your unofficial third roommate and it will cut down on the utilities bill, which might be getting higher with a third person in the apartment all the time.
Still can’t find the right roommate? There’s no rule saying you have to have a roommate. Living along isn’t for everyone, but there is something very empowering about having a place that’s completely yours. Just make sure you can afford the rent by yourself!