Have you seen the prices for renting a place in a major city? If you ask yourself how people can afford to live in these places, the answer is simple: roommates, and lots of them. The fact is that 30% of working adults are living with a roommate, with places like New York, Los Angeles, and other urban areas having a rate over 40%. Through our own research we estimate that approximately 70% people who moved for a short-term stay, like internships, co-ops, and study abroads, lived with at least one roommate.
We realize that sharing a living space can seem uncomfortable and downright nerve racking. That is why we put together these guidelines to make this part of your housing journey a little less painful.
Step 1: SET UP & SEARCH
Before you start reviewing people, have a strong set of evaluation criteria such as level of cleanliness, defined work/sleep hours, and items you want to share/don’t want to share. If someone is moving in with you, have a timeline for your potential roommate, know when you want them to move in, move out, and when the rent and safety deposit are due. By having a preliminary baseline of the type of roommate you want and the appropriate time constraints, you can start your search more efficiently. The #1 way to find a roommate is through referrals. These referrals can be through family and friends, networks in your social media groups like Facebook, or your colleagues at school. There are also apps out there you can use to aid your search, find them here.
STEP 2: The Interview
You should prepare a few important questions before meeting with a potential roommate, some of which were mentioned above, but others should be centered around hobbies and interests you may want to share. Standardized questions will allow you to fairly evaluate all potential roommates and places to live. It is not inappropriate to ask them how they will pay for rent. After all, you still have to live there so don’t get stuck with a bill you can’t afford. Try to meet in-person or in a video chat to gauge a person’s interest, a phone call or texting can be misleading. Lastly, don’t be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings if you reject them. Sometimes you have to make a tough choice and it is better to pick someone you want to live with.
Step 3: KEEPING A NICE HOME
You could spend a lot of time picking the best roommate, but it all falls apart if you are not a good roommate. Always make sure to clean up after yourself in a way that would make your mother proud. Make sure there is always room for two-way communication.This absolutely critical. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should create an environment for constructive feedback and be willing to improve. Try to stay active in each others life by saying hello and asking about their day occasionally. No one likes the roommate that is never home or never leaves their room to talk. Don’t make big decisions without their input, like decorations or replacing expensive equipment. Try to notify them if you are inviting guests over. Consider making a roommate contract that holds you both to cleaning schedules and rules that benefit the home.
Step 4: The Logistics
If things change, make sure you have a fair way of dealing with the situation. When you find a great roommate, have a plan to move or buy things together in a way that is agreed upon. When you have a bad roommate, have an exit strategy to change the situation if the problems are unfixable. In any situation, it is good to have some type of agreed expectation that keeps everyone’s incentives in the same place, we suggest using a roommate contract. As a last note, make sure you communicate any logistic issues in advance (i.e. taking care of an animal, watering plants, long vacation plans, etc).
RenTrust wants to make finding a roommate time efficient through our platform. We know that it can be difficult and challenging to find people to live with so we are working to simplify the process from search to move-out day. If you saw something you would like to add to this or want to ask some questions about finding a roommate, feel free to email us at email@example.com. You can also follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
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