Having a roommate can be a great experience that can also save you a bit of money. However, if you don’t know how to manage the situation, it can also leave you eager for your lease or agreement to end.
Here are a few tips to help you have the best experience with roommates!
No. 1: Find a Good Roommate
The first step toward having a good experience with roommates is to find the right one.
Try posting about looking for a roommate on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Your family and friends might know someone, making this a great place to start.
After that, look at platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Groups, and Craigslist to find one. The two keys to success in finding a roommate are to be patient and persistent.
No. 2: Get to Know Your Roommate
Finding out if you have any hobbies or interests in common with a potential roommate will help you connect better. This will come in handy later when dealing with conflicts that arise. Here are a few questions that you should ask:
- What do they do for work?
- Have they lived with other people in the past?
- What are some things that they enjoy doing outside of work?
- Where have you traveled before?
Here are 50 get-to-know-you questions by SignUp Genius. Remember that you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but you should know them.
No. 3: Communicate Early and Often
Communicating early and often is a great way to resolve disputes before they blow up into something bigger. Waiting a month to let your roommate know that they take too long in the shower will only make the issue bigger. While some things might not need immediate attention, it’s better to bring them up as soon as you can.
Here are a few common problems that you might face:
- They don’t share responsibilities and clean up after themselves.
- They don’t clean up after their pets.
- They abuse agreed-upon guest privileges.
- They don’t manage the bills or pay rent on time.
- They use your detergent/toothpaste or other supplies.
- The temperature of the apartment isn’t comfortable for you.
- They make a lot of noise.
- They spend a lot of time in the shower or getting ready in the morning.
- They throw parties without asking or letting you know.
- There’s not enough space in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Dishes remain in the sink or dishwasher for too long.
If it’s a tough subject, call family or a friend. It’s likely that they have dealt with similar situations and will know what to do. You can also use this guide that talks about how to have a difficult conversation with your roommate. We will talk more about this in the section about roommate agreements.
If possible, try to resolve issues in person, rather than over text. This will create fewer misunderstandings. If your schedule allows it, try creating a short 15-minute weekly meeting where you discuss any issues that you all are facing. And while it may seem like a good idea at the moment, don’t leave sticky notes all over the house.
No. 4: Set Boundaries
Let your new roommate know what you are comfortable sharing, or not sharing. Many people come from different living situations. So they might be used to sharing food, while you might only buy food for yourself. They might also use your toothpaste, laundry detergent, and other supplies, assuming that you might not have a problem with it.
No. 5: Share Responsibilities
Sharing responsibilities will make your home more comfortable to live in. For some people, a chore chart is a good idea. But for others, they’d rather keep a mental note of things to do. Here are a few responsibilities to share on a regular basis.
- Taking out the trash and recycling.
- Vacuuming the house.
- Mopping the house.
- Cleaning the refrigerator and freezer.
- Cleaning the bathroom.
- Unloading, loading, and running the dishwasher.
- Cleaning the oven and other parts of the kitchen.
- Cleaning the windows.
- Wiping down the sink.
- Buying supplies and shared foods.
Here’s a guide from Bungalow on how to divvy up household chores.
No. 6: Create a Roommate Agreement
According to Eforms, “A roommate agreement, also known as a ‘room rental agreement’, is a template used for the leasing of bedrooms in a housing unit while sharing communal areas such as the living room, kitchen, etc.”
A good roommate agreement should include the following:
- Expense breakdown, including utilities.
- Which rooms are shared and which are private.
- Guests (especially significant others) and party policy.
- Pets policy and how often you will clean litterboxes, etc.
- Chores list and how often you will do them.
- When are quiet hours (if you choose to have them).
- What happens if someone wants to move out early.
- Rules on sharing/borrowing items.
- Whether or not smoking is allowed.
- Any other rules like house temperature, parking, shower times, etc.
To help you create a roommate agreement, here’s a guide from Legal Templates.
No. 7: Become Familiar With Schedules
Most scheduling conflicts arise when sharing a bathroom. Make sure to figure out each other’s working schedules so that you don’t conflict.
We recommend having a shower schedule if your work hours overlap. It doesn’t have to be rigid, but you should generally know what time each morning you can expect to use the bathroom and get ready for the day.
No. 8: Keep an Open Mind
Remember that your roommate likely has grown up in a different environment than you. This includes a different social, economic, political, racial environment, and more.
The diverse experience that you can get from this will only help you grow as a person. Remembering this can help you become more aware of your own bias, and how it affects how you live and interact with others.
One thing to note is that even though you may be in the same apartment, you probably have different levels of income and debt. So, while you may want them to order food with you and go out most nights, this may not be realistic for their budget and priorities.
No. 9: Be Considerate
Tiny habits that you have can quickly become irritants for your roommate. They may not be willing to say anything, but they feel it. For example, playing music every once in a while is fine, especially if they aren’t home. But if they are home, it might make sense to use headphones, especially in the morning. And be careful of pressing that loud snooze button multiple times.
We all like to be home and enjoy our time. But your roommate would probably like to have some time each week to have the apartment to themselves. If you are looking to get out of the house and earn some rewards while doing it, try doing some mystery shopping with the Mobee App.
No. 10: Lock up Your Valuables
While your roommate likely won’t steal from you, they might have friends over who will. Make sure to protect your valuable items when you and/or your roommate aren’t around. Regardless of how safe your apartment is, you should absolutely have your passport and social security card in a lockbox or somewhere safe that only you can access.
No. 11: Be Proactive with Bills
Utilities will often be in one person’s name, so make sure to pay them as soon as possible. You can use tools like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App to send money between roommates. Be cognizant of the withdrawal fees if you sent the money to your roommates the day they need it.
Bills are hard to stay on top of, so one thing we recommend is getting in the routine of saving money for utilities. If you know cable or internet will be about $50 a month, and the bill comes on the 3rd of the month, you can send that to an account specifically for utilities. Then, when your roommate asks for the money, you have it set aside.
Also consider using Splitwise to manage payments, including things like toilet paper, going out to a bar, and other expenses. Splitwise lets you keep a running tab of who owes who. Much easier than trying to remember it all.
No. 12: Exchange Emergency Contact Information
This one is straightforward, but your roommate should be able to reach your family or a friend who is close to you in the case of an emergency.
No. 13: Tough It Out or Consider Leaving
What do you do when the going gets tough? You can talk to your resident assistant if you are living in a dorm room. If you are living in an apartment, it might be trickier to navigate a hard living situation. Moving out might not be an option unless you can pay for the last few months of your rent and an early termination fee.
You can always sublet the room or try to evict your roommate. Unless your apartment roommate is not paying rent or is doing illegal things, your best bet is usually to wait until the lease is up and move on.
Living with a roommate can be a great way to help offset the costs of renting, especially in a big city. When in doubt, always follow the golden rule and treat them how you would like to be treated. Setting ground rules, proper expectations, and compromising will solve most challenges that you encounter. We hope this guide helps you find a great roommate! Who knows, maybe you will end up being great friends.
Even though living with roommates can be cheaper, renting is still expensive. Here are 5 ways to save money living in the city, and 14 different ways to make money with your car. Also, don’t forget these ways to save money on moving costs and to consider cutting the cord when you move into your new place.