How to Find a Roommate

Roommates are a good way to cut expenses. But before you move in together, take a few minutes to figure out what kind of living arrangement works for you - it could save a lot of headaches down the road.

Finding a Roommate to Move Into Your Home

Steps:

1. Figure out how you want to divide the costs of rent and utilities. Unless one of the bedrooms is substantially larger than the other, you probably will want to split the costs evenly between roommates.

2. Figure out how you want to divide daily living expenses - things that fall into the "common-use" category such as milk, coffee and laundry detergent. If you decide you want to have "mutual property," such as furniture or appliances, determine how to divide those expenses, too.

3. Determine what kind of person you want living in your home. Do you want a male or female roommate? A smoker or nonsmoker? Gay or straight? A partier or a homebody?

4. Ask friends if they know of people looking for a place to live. This gives you a character reference.

5. Place ads on community bulletin boards and in local newspapers with a clear description of your home or apartment, monthly expenses and the kind of roommate you're looking for. Some Internet sites let users list their ads for free.

6. Screen applicants on the phone when they call. If you can tell right away that someone won't work out, don't waste your time meeting him or her face-to-face.

7. Invite applicants who sound promising to come by for a meeting. If your ad specifies a nonsmoker and the person smells like cigarettes, you'll have saved yourself time and hassle.

8. Ask for references from previous landlords and roommates.

9. Verify the applicant's employment.

Finding Someone Who Is Looking for a Roommate to Move In

Steps:

1. Look in the real estate sections in metropolitan and community newspapers for "roommate wanted" ads. Ideally, the ads will give a description of the house or apartment as well as information on costs. You can also get leads on the Internet.

2. Respond to the ads that look promising. On the phone, discuss some basics about what you're looking for and what your expectations for privacy are.

3. Arrange a meeting with the potential roommate at the house or apartment so you can look at the place. Be sure to find out which bedroom will be yours.

4. Be up-front about any personal characteristics that may be problematic for you, such as smoking or staying up late to watch movies.

5. Talk about dividing expenses for common-use items such as milk, coffee and laundry detergent.

Overall Warnings:

When it comes to dividing expenses for household items, some roomies alternate buying the goods; others make a weekly or monthly contribution to a "house fund."

Make sure you discuss how household chores will be divided.