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Having a good roommate can help ease the burden of the rising costs of living, as well as provide companionship. However, choosing the wrong roommate can spell disaster. Although finding the right roommate is not a fool proof process, there are steps you can take to improve the likelihood that a roommate will be a good match for your lifestyle.
The first thing to do is advertise that you are looking for a roommate. To increase the chance that those who respond will be compatible with you, post flyers or ads in places that are of interest to you. For example, if you are a churchgoer, you can advertise on a church bulletin board. It is likely that those who respond will have similar interests and values.
You should also decide when advertising for a roommate whether you have preferences for gender, smoking, drinking, pets, and so on. State these preferences in your ad or flyer. You could say ‘male roommate desired; no smoking, cat ok’. Also state the amount of money that you expect for your roommate’s share of the rent. Making these considerations beforehand will prevent having to weed out roommates that may be undesirable to you.
Once you have advertised that you are looking for a roommate, you need to interview the respondents. First, try to make sure the potential roommate is responsible and will be able to pay rent consistently and on time. Ask questions about the person’s job and whether or not they like it. You can also perform credit checks and request references from friends, employers or family, and previous landlords.
Explain your preferences and lifestyle to your potential roommate. Tell the person if you like to be left alone or if you enjoy lots of company. Make sure you and your roommate will be able to make compromises and agree on some house rules before you start living together. If you find that you are not able to agree right off the bat, then it most likely won’t work out in the future.
Finally, when you are choosing a roommate, it is good to trust your gut instinct. First impressions say a lot about how you and another person will get along. If you are not a good judge of character, as some people are not, you can have a close friend or family member who knows you well help make the decision.
It is a good idea to interview many people rather than make a decision hastily. If you choose the first or second person you interview, you might miss out on someone who would be most compatible to your lifestyle. When choosing a roommate, it is important that you and the person share similar interests, schedules and values. The saying that ‘opposites attract’ is really not correct for two people sharing a living space.
Looking back on my college and young adult years, I'm surprised I found decent roommates at all. So many people I lived with would get a job offer in another state and just pack up and leave. Others would decide to move in with their girlfriends or move back home. I think renting a large house with three or more roommates is a huge risk for young adults with limited incomes.
One roommate can leave unexpectedly and the rent might still be affordable among the remaining three. However, if one more roommate decides to move out, then suddenly the arrangement is not so affordable. Finding suitable roommates to replace the ones who left can be a stressful situation. It pays to ask potential roommates about their ability to commit to a long-term rental agreement.
I've been on both sides of this issue, especially when I was in my early 20s. I used to scour all of the billboards at the local college campus, looking for "roommate wanted" flyers. I could eliminate half of them right away, because of the preferred gender or the location of the apartment complex. I never wanted to have a female roommate, mostly because I feared the situation could get too complicated as time went on.
I always thought the ideal roommate had a schedule completely different from mine. I had a good roommate who worked nights at an upscale bar while I worked the day shift at a restaurant. We saw each other about two hours a day
, which was just enough time to coordinate things like bills and rent, but not enough to feel cramped. By the time he got home from work, I was already asleep. It was like we both had our own apartment, just at different hours of the day.
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