- 1) Choosing a roommate does not always mean choosing your friends
- 2) You need to ask the tough questions
- 3) Discuss finances before choosing a roommate
- 4) Do sweat the small stuff
- 5) After choosing a roommate, find a space that works for you
Choosing a roommate is like choosing a good bottle of wine. Sometimes you need to swirl around a few bouquets before you find the right match that is easy on the nose and perfect for your meal. You don’t want something that you don’t enjoy or leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
Unfortunately, many people make the wrong decisions when choosing a roommate. Not only can this make your living situation unpleasant but you might also have to be financially responsible for their portion of the rent if they aren’t able to commit.
Here are a few things you need to consider when choosing the right roommate.
1) Choosing a roommate does not always mean choosing your friends
Maybe you’ve had a conversation with one of your really good friends about moving in together and sharing the rent. You might even have started looking at rental units together.
However, just because you have the perfect friend does not mean that you have the perfect roommate. They might lead a totally different lifestyle from you and you only realize this after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Many friendships have been destroyed because it changed to a roommate agreement instead. If you are planning on moving in with your friends, make sure that both of you are compatible and that you are willing to compromise.
2) You need to ask the tough questions
If your name is on the lease agreement that means that you are responsible for the rental unit as well as the rent. The landlord isn’t going to question your roommate; they are going to hold you accountable.
When you choose your roommate, don’t shy away from asking tough and personal questions. Do they have a criminal record? Do they drink, smoke, or abuse drugs? Will they be working from home or at an office?
All these things will determine the type of roommate you choose. Then, of course, the toughest question you need to ask is what their finances look like.
3) Discuss finances before choosing a roommate
This is probably the most important discussion you will have to have when choosing a roommate. It will simply not work out if your potential roommate is not financially responsible. You will find yourself covering the rent at the end of the month whilst they chill on your couch.
The best way to find out more about someone’s financial history is to do a thorough background check. Ask them what their credit score is, if they have ever defaulted on any rental payments and if they are permanently employed. You can verify this information with their previous landlord and their employer.
If they refuse to answer any of these questions, then it is a red flag. It is an uncomfortable conversation to have but remember that your financial well-being (and reputation as a tenant) is also on the line.
4) Do sweat the small stuff
If you don’t sort out the small things now, they become big things later. Perhaps they enjoy entertaining and having guests over three times a week and you don’t. Maybe they don’t want to pool money together for groceries. They might not like the painting in the living room that you bought in a dodgy gallery that one year you lived in Cape Town.
These small things need to be discussed and you need to compromise on them. Don’t be afraid to ask them exactly what they expect from the experience and what they expect of you.
Remember that you are a roommate as well. You need to share your rental unit with someone else who has their own tastes and preferences. Choosing a roommate means finding someone whose lifestyle and tastes match yours as much as it can.
5) After choosing a roommate, find a space that works for you
If you already live in a rental unit and your roommate is moving in with you, be open to moving things around. It is almost guaranteed that they will want to change things up a bit – even if it is just moving the TV two centimetres to the left.
This might be a bit more difficult to navigate because you are already used to your rental unit. If you feel like the space isn’t working for you, or you haven’t found a rental unit yet, make a list of things you both want in a living space.
You might want to find a three-bedroom unit and convert the extra room into an office. You might find that you are going to be entertaining a bit more so find a place with an entertainment area. Work with your new roommate and find or recreate the perfect space for the two of you.
Choosing a roommate is exciting and it can work in your favour if you do your research. Before you jump online and start searching roommate finder websites, make sure that you are willing to adapt and discuss important things.
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