Your home is your happy place—keep it that way.
Sometimes in life, you need a roommate. Some people simply want a roommate. Whether for financial reasons, or the desire for companionship, or simply because you like knowing someone else is at home, the why’s of needing or wanting a roommate are varied. Whatever the reasons, one thing you don’t want is an incompatible roommate. A home is a place of sanctuary and peace, and someone brimming with drama is never the ideal housemate.
So, how do you ensure you find a compatible, low-drama roommate? Nothing is ever certain, but there are ways to significantly increase your odds of finding the right person. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy home and possibly a lifelong friendship.
Let your friends, family, colleagues, and classmates know that you’re looking. This is not to say that you should ask them to be your roommate—sometimes friends-turned-roommates can end up spelling disaster for the friendship. Unless you’ve lived with them before and know you’re compatible, don’t ask your friends or family to be roommates. Do ask them if they know of anyone also looking. Not only will the potential person not be a total stranger, but they’ll come recommended by someone you know and trust.
There are several websites that would serve you well to frequent. The obvious free choices are Facebook and Craigslist, just beware of scammers. If you decide to advertise or search those sites, make sure to properly vet any perspectives. Better sites to search are Roommates.com, Roomiematch.com, and Roomi. On these, scammers and bots are filtered out, you can create a profile, search other profiles, and message potential roommates back and forth. Each site has fees, and they all work slightly differently, but overall are great sites for people taking their roommate search more seriously. Roomster is a site which lets users link all of their social media pages, making it easy to research potential roommates, and Padmapper makes it easy to find a place in a particular neighborhood or even block. So, if you already have a place, create your own post, and people looking to live in your neighborhood will seek you out. Finally, search your college alumni networks, be they Facebook groups or listserves. Keep an eye out for roommate requests, or send one out yourself.
When creating your profile or post, include as many details as possible. Be specific about the living space – where it’s located, its size, building amenities, what’s included in the common areas, parking privileges, any relevant information you find important. Give details about yourself – your habits, lifestyle, hobbies and interests, what you’re looking for in a roommate. And, of course, give the specifics of the contract—the price of all bills, length of lease, building rules, etc. The more information you give, the more you’ll filter out incompatible roommates and attract like-minded ones.
Interview. A lot.
Meet all potential roommates in person. Meet somewhere public, like a coffee shop, and get to know them. If you feel comfortable bringing them to your place, have someone with you for safety. But, don’t stop at one. Even if you feel that the first person you interview is the right one, let him or her know you have other interviews lined up. Conduct all of your interviews, then give second interviews to your top contenders. This is someone with whom you’ll be living for at least a year. Give it sincere thought. Use your head, but, ultimately, go with your gut.
Ask the right questions.
Ask about their lifestyle, cleaning habits, noise level, sleep habits, kitchen usage. Ask about their job—really scout this out and watch for any red flags. Make sure they can cover all bills, on time. Ask why they’re looking for a new place, and why they moved out of their old one. Ask how often they have people over, how they got along with their previous roommates, if they have any quirks you should know about. Be honest with them about yourself as well—this should be a good match for both of you. And be direct about expectations regarding bills, shared expenses, and shared spaces.
Check their references.
Sure, they seemed perfect. Check their references—previous landlords, roommates, even employers. If they say they don’t have any (and that’s not a red flag for you!), a background and credit check should tell you all you need to know.
Choose the one.
When deciding between equals, choose the one most similar to you in lifestyle, habits, hobbies, and personality. Like friends, roommates who mirror each other tend to be the most compatible.
Get it in writing.
Congratulations, you’ve decided on your new roommate! Now, be sure to get the contract in writing. Save yourself any potential legal trouble by putting them on the lease or sublease, and include any pertinent information regarding chores, overnight guests, or any agreements you’ve made. With a contract in writing, not only will you be legally and financially protected, but you’ll both feel good about clear expectations and making your new arrangement official.