Many apartment dwellers choose to have roommates because they know it can add to a positive overall apartment living experience. But they also know that living with a bad roommate can turn out to be a nightmare.
If you're starting to look for a roommate, it's understandable if you feel afraid that you'll end up with someone who's incompatible or problematic. Fortunately, although a good roommate relationship can't be guaranteed, you can take steps that will increase the likelihood you'll be able to enjoy a positive experience with your roommate.
Put the Odds in Your Favor
A roommate search isn't a simple game of chance in which you randomly pick someone's name out of a hat. On the contrary, you have control over choosing what you want in a roommate, and you also have ways to help make sure the person you choose fits the bill.
Here are two things you can do to increase the likelihood you'll end up with a good roommate and be able to enjoy a positive apartment living experience:
- Get to know a roommate candidate. Whenever you meet a potential roommate, don't just bet it will or won't work out. Take a moment to ask questions and actually see if the two of you are compatible. Talk to the roommate candidate on the phone and meet in person at least once, especially if the candidate is a stranger whom you met online. Don't be afraid to ask what you believe you need to know so that you get a clear picture of the person and what it would be like to share an apartment.
- Work things out before you sign a lease. Even compatible roommates can encounter problems during the lease term if they're not on the same page when it comes to finances, housekeeping, and other aspects of apartment life. You can avoid problems by having honest discussions with potential roommates on these topics before you decide to sign a lease.
So, when it comes to splitting rent, you should decide whether it's fair to do it evenly. For example, if you're renting a two-bedroom apartment with another person, you might believe that the one with the larger bedroom should pay more rent. If the bedrooms are the same size but one of them has an additional benefit, such as offering a beautiful view from a bay window, you might decide it's fair for that bedroom's occupant to pay a greater share of the rent.
Even if it's clear to two roommates that they'll split the rent each month, you still need to discuss other apartment expenses you expect to incur over your lease term. Splitting everything evenly might make sense. But what about a situation in which one roommate consumes much more of the groceries while the other roommate mostly eats out or does take-out from local restaurants?
In addition to getting important questions answered, having honest conversations early on with potential roommates can also help you gauge the candidate's attitude. If a candidate appears to be a reasonable, easy-going, non-confrontational person, it's a good sign that you'll be able to solve unforeseeable issues that may arise. On the other hand, if discussions seem like debates or negotiations and you notice a potential roommate tends to get defensive or argumentative, you may want to think twice about proceeding to room with this person.