Roommates and Sharing an Apartment
Many renters often consider sharing an apartment. The main benefit we found in our research is a financial one. With the rent cut in half, or three ways perhaps, a larger apartment or one in a more exclusive area can suddenly be affordable. But sharing an apartment isn’t always that easy. With some tips you can make this transition into roommate life a pleasurable one.
Helpful Tips for Finding a Roommate
— The Drawbacks of Sharing an Apartment
— Finding a Roommate
— Questions for a Potential Roommate
— Rooming with a Friend
— Roommate Agreements
— How to Eliminate Conflicts
- Benefits of Sharing an Apartment
Probably, the main benefit of sharing an apartment is a financial one. Having a roommate to share in the rent and other expenses allows you to perhaps have that larger living space that was otherwise out of your price range, or maybe you can move into that apartment in a great location which had a higher rental rate. In this case, a roommate could be a blessing, especially if you both love the apartment and the neighborhood. a roommate also can help share in house hold duties like cleaning, dishes, and laundry. Sharing the work makes life easier, especially if you work full-time or have a job in which you travel a bit. If you are away, the plants will still get watered and the cat fed by your roommate, and of course you will do the same for him or her. Once you work out personal and financial responsibilities, have a roommate can be quite nice. There will be always someone there to talk to, share the day with, and give support to. Loneliness will be at a minimum.
- The Drawbacks of Sharing an Apartment
Inevitably personalities clash. Often you’ll meet someone and have so much in common, feel like you’ve found a best friend or a sister or brother of sorts, only to realize months down the line that this person is not what they seemed. This is always the risk with finding a roommate, especially one you’ve never met before, and is one of the biggest disadvantages of sharing an apartment. If you find that you simply cannot get along over time, it maybe difficult to get out of the rental situation, especially if a lease has been signed. If you’ve overstepped with your money due to having a roommate share the expenses, this could be a big problem. If they split, you could be stuck with full responsibility. It would be advantageous to have both of you sign a rental agreement that holds both of you accountable for rent and other expenses should this happen.
Lack of privacy is often another complaint with roommates sharing an apartment. If you are a people person and don’t like to be alone, a roommate is a perfect idea, but there are still times when one needs a little space and their own privacy. Often you may want to do something when you get home from a long day at work, and find your roommate entertaining a few friends or watching TV. Setting boundaries, and schedules for guests is paramount to a good roommate relationship.
Division of chores is another difficulty, especially if one of you isn’t as neat as the other. Often a renter will complain that they live with a slob, or someone who doesn’t pull their own weight when it comes to cleaning up the apartment. Again, a schedule should be set to clarify who does what in you apartment, and the person held accountable if they don’t.
- Finding a Roommate
Finding a great roommate can be difficult, especially finding someone who is compatible with your personality. Finding someone who you can get along with, have similar interests, and setting up apartment responsibilities and guidelines will be a great advantage. Creating and signing a roommate agreement will help make an easier transition into sharing an apartment. You can advertise for a roommate in the local paper or local magazines. This will open you up to a lot of phone calls, perhaps some one-on- one meetings in public places, and possible visits to your apartment or theirs. In any case, it is wise to be very cautious, not to go alone to meetings, and have a few conversations before hand to get a better feel on the person involved.
Roommates.com is a roommate finding site especially designed with renters who want to share their apartment living space. It is easy to use, easy to explore, and it’s free. When we checked it out we found the site well organized. You can make a profile of yourself, listing what your likes and dislikes are, the area you live in, your schedule, etc. You can upload a profile picture, and pictures the apartment you wish to share. There is a sample profile right on the front page of the site to get an idea of how to do this. Then you simply search for the city you live in, or are looking to move to, and view other potential roommate profiles. You will see all the other posted pictures and profiles. One testimonial stated that Roommates.com was a safe, secure way to interview a new roommate. We highly recommend this site if you are looking for someone you don’t know to room with.
- Questions for a Potential Roommate
Be open when interviewing a new roommate. Listen carefully. And be willing to answer their questions also. The following are some questions to ask:
- Have you been a roommate in the past?
- Why did you move out?
- Did anything your previous roommate do really bother you?
- What kind of job do you have? How long have you worked there?
- What is your work schedule like?
- On average, what time do you go to bed and wake up?
- Do you have a pet? If so, what kind?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you use drugs or drink?
- Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Will they be staying over and how frequently?
- Do you consider yourself to be a neat or a messy person?
- Will you work together to keep the apartment clean?
- Will you share the cost of groceries and cleaning products for the apartment?
- Do you follow a specific diet, vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, or any other?
- If you watch television, what do you like to watch? How often do you watch TV?
- Do you have a lot of friends that will be visiting?
- Will you have parties?
- Are you a musician? What instrument do you play? Do you practice and how often?
- Will you co-sign a lease?
- References? Previous roommate references? Landlord references?
You of course can add to this list any particular things you’d like to know or share with a potential roommate. Keep in mind that some of these questions can be an automatic yes or no with the person interviewed. For example, if they have a cat, and you are allergic to cats this can be the deal breaker. Smokers and non-smokers can be another problem.
- Rooming with a Friend
Sharing your apartment with someone you already know can be an easiest way to find a roommate. All the “getting-to-know” ground-work is already done. You know that you both share similar interests and perhaps your schedules are compatible. The interviewing process would be basically unnecessary. However, keep in mind that living in close proximity with someone, even a person you know well, can have challenges. You learn quite a bit more about a person when you live with them, and you may not like everything you find. Patience and understanding are keys to keeping a good roommate relationship with a friend. Build your renting partnership with trust, understanding and honesty, and we also recommend that you make a written renters agreement together, even though he or she is a friend. This way there will be no misunderstandings, financial or otherwise, in the future and you friendship will endure beyond your years of rooming together.
- Roommate Agreements
Here are a few ideas on how to keep roommate frustrations to a minimum. Consider the following items when forming an agreement with your new roommate (or friend-roommate!).
- Space issues – What areas are to be shared in the apartment and what areas are to be private (bedroom, bathroom, etc.).
- Personal Items – How food and other items are to be shared such as shampoos, towels, medicines. Set standards of usage. Label items with your name if necessary to set boundaries and ease confusion.
- Cleanliness – Hopefully you are both on the same page when it comes to keeping the apartment clean and are both willing to contribute. Create a cleaning schedule with who does what each week.
- Noise – Agree on noise levels during certain times of day, such as music playing, instrument playing, or television watching.
- Expenses – Perhaps the most important consideration. Money is the toughest issue between people but has to be dealt with respectfully. Agree to who pays for what and the splitting of rent and expenses ahead of time to save a lot of future disagreements.
- Storage – The storage space in you apartment can be limited. Examine the areas together and divide as evenly as possible. Areas to consider are: kitchen cabinet shelves, refrigerator shelves or drawers, bathroom storage spaces, and closets.
- Overnight Guests and Parties – Set limits or notice times (like a day or two beforehand) that need to be given to your roommate so that no surprises or problems arise that could ruin an otherwise fun occasion.
More information on Roommate agreements here.
- How to Eliminate Conflicts
Here are just a few suggestions on how to keep a roommate relationship in balance when the inevitable conflict arises.
First, be sure to be calm when confrontation is necessary. Saving yourself up with your anger, and exploding the first chance you get to talk with your roommate will not help the situation. Instead speak openly and focus on the problem at hand, not on multiple things that may be bothering you.
Ask each other what you can do together to change the present situation. Perhaps your roommate keeps using your favorite shampoo. Does she need her own? Can she afford it? What can each of you do to keep the problem from happening again?
Find out the needs and personal thoughts on the issue before jumping in with attack words. Your roommate may be thinking one way about something, and you another. Conversations that start with you both on the same page will be more beneficial.
And lastly, consider bringing in a mediator to help with a larger or deeper problem between you and your roommate. A neutral party can clarify things, and bring new light to the situation.