To Roommate or Not To Roommate

Making the Decision

Do you want or need to live with a roommate? What are the pros and cons of having a roommate? What should you consider when looking for a roommate? And what issues should you get settled before you move in? On this page we'll look at the pros and cons and some tips to consider; later, we will look at the some of the issues you should get settled before moving in with roommates and how to get them in writing.

The Pros of Roommates

it's often cheaper as costs (rent, utilities, food) are split

household chores are a shared responsibility

you can often afford a bigger apartment with more living space if you split the costs

a roommate can assuage loneliness

The Cons of Roommates

a perceived (if not real) lack of privacy someone else's problems can become yours you're relying on someone else honoring their obligations (to pay rent, to pay utilities, etc.) there's always the potential for disputes, even with a friend

Some Considerations

Just because someone's been your best friend since elementary school doesn't mean he or she will make a great roommate.

Often living together can destroy even a close friendship.

It's a good idea to know going in what you want in a roommate and what you won't tolerate. Will you accept a roommate who smokes? What about one with a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend? Will you live with someone of the opposite sex? What about someone of a different sexual orientation? What about cleanliness? Pets? Morning person vs. night owl?

If you're looking for a room sharing situation (rather than looking for an apartment with a friend), you need to start looking as early as possible. It can sometimes take longer to find an acceptable rental share situation than just to find an apartment.

As with any apartment search, make sure everyone you know knows that you are looking. You never know where the perfect lead will come from, but often people are your best source. And people who know you well will probably also recommend things they know you'll like.

Ask questions. If you're looking at apartment share situations, you want to know as much as possible about the people you'll be living with, right? Make a list of questions ahead of time, and get them answered.

Answer questions. Be as honest as possible with potential roommates and put your best foot forward.

Don't expect that your new roommate will be your new best friend as well. While the two of you may, indeed, become good friends, it isn't a prerequisite for sharing an apartment.

Be prepared to compromise. Sharing an apartment or house with someone else usually requires some adjustment. Chances are you can no longer have your friends over all night every night, watch whatever you want on the living room TV, or let the dishes sit for weeks.

by Sandra Clockedile