Learning to live with a roommate involves a lot of give and take. Use these tips to first know what kind of a roommate you want and then go about finding them.
How to find the perfect roommate
There are many good, compelling arguments for why you should live alone and equally good reasons for why living with a roommate is a better idea. But even before you start hunting for an apartment, think about this essential question: are you going to be comfortable sharing your space with someone? If you’re sure that living alone doesn’t cut it and you would rather be assisted—both emotionally and financially—by a roommate, keep these points in mind.
But first, where to find a roommate?
The oldest trick in the book is to ask your friends. But you can now also use online services such as Roomster.com. Some online roommate-matching services also let you create an ad, search a large database, and meet potential matches. It’s just like dating, maybe tougher.
And of course, another way is to post ads on your social channels or in groups and start filtering applications.
1. Communicating Smart
One is clarity about what you want from your roommate, the other is to ensure you communicate it effectively on all the channels you’re using to advertise your needs. Draft a concise, pithy post that can go with pictures of the room. If you’re sure you don’t want someone who is a party animal or brings too many friends over, it’s good to mention it in the post.
For example: Introverts would be preferred. I love parties, only not inside the house.
A good roommate ad can also include information about you to ensure only those who think they can get along with you take an interest. This also depends on if you want a roommate who shares your interest.
Bonus: I have a terrific Star Wars DVD collection and it will automatically extend to my roommate.
What to do when you meet prospective roommates?
Many guides will encourage you to ask potential roommates about their hobbies, career trajectory, and even ambitions. But this isn’t a job interview, this is a living situation. It doesn’t matter if your roommate is a ballerina, but it will matter if the music and practice are going to constantly disturb you.
Instead, evaluate their temperament and ask about their thoughts on aspects like privacy, cleanliness, noise, their pet peeves, daily habits, among others.
2. Pay attention to temperament
Some people might take the roommate hunt too seriously and scour the face of the earth for the perfect roommate, while others might not think too much at all—underestimating the importance of sharing your space, and a lot of your time, with someone else. Both approaches can fail, but employing a careful understanding of human psychology (both yours and theirs) to be sure that you find a roommate who matches your temperament, can help.
• Think Ahead What You Like And Dislike
While checking for temperament, think ahead and try to ensure you’re paying attention to everything that can potentially bother you in the future. In the beginning, it’s great to live with a roommate who loves to chat, but if you’re slightly on the reserved end, it can soon become deeply bothersome. Or if you’re social, having a reserved roommate who stays locked-in could drive you up the wall. What are the ways to ensure this doesn’t happen?
• Know what you’re looking for
If you’re looking for a roommate who can also be your friend, look for qualities that you will look for in a friend. Think about:
– Common interests
– Preferred free time choices
– The level of involvement you desire
But if you’re purely looking for someone merely to split the rent with, make sure you choose a roommate who expects similarly and will not feel abandoned and lonely in the house when you withdraw or vice versa.
To ensure you’re on the same page, and can immediately put your finger on where the potential roomie is on the introvert-extrovert scale, ask a few questions like:
– How often do you party/ go out?
– Have you lived in this city for long?
– How do you make friends?
– Do you have a wide circle of friends?
– Another key, tried-and-tested, and super-effective question to ask is:
How was your former roommate?
Of course, this question doesn’t work if they’ve never shared space with anyone (siblings/cousins don’t count), but asking about a former roommate and having them divulge details about what they liked or didn’t will help you evaluate their cohabiting style.
Suppose they say, oh, we became best friends and I hope we will, too. This tells you a little bit about their expectations from a potential roommate. Or they may say, we got along just fine and gave each other ample space. You know by this that they might value their own privacy.
You can also extend this exercise by asking what they didn’t like—a great insight into both their behavior and what you mustn’t repeat.
3. Privacy & Personal Space
Think about privacy and how important it is for you. If you are an intensely private person who doesn’t like spending too much time around people, even your roommate, you might want to make it clear upfront, either as a non-negotiable or by enquiring how your potential roommate feels about rules, such as “do-not-disturb” times. This might be a bit cold at first but clear expectations always make for peaceful and harmonious living.
4. Think of schedules
One of the most important questions to ask your roommate is about their schedule. What if they work all night and sleep during the day? Or what if they’re always home and you never get a chance to unwind and be by yourself? What if they’re always traveling and forget to pay the rent? Ask about their schedule!
The shared areas can lead to big fights. Strewn garbage or unclean dishes—if left by one and not another—can drive the nicest, most peaceful people to war. While there’s no way to know for sure how clean your roommate is going to keep their part of the house, we can think of two strategies:
Try to get them to invite you to their house where you can see for yourself how they’ve kept it.
Sounds difficult? Try this: When they come to see the room, ask them, how clean do they think the room is and encourage them to be honest.
If they say it’s very clean, and you don’t think it’s that clean, they could too unkempt for you. And if they say it’s dirty, they might have the perfect level of cleanliness as you, or might be too clean for you.
6. Sensitivities to noise and light
Some people are noisy and completely unconscious of it. No, not just their own sound box but also their tendency to play loud music around the house. Ask them what is their policy on noise and observe their reaction for anything other than, “I don’t understand people who don’t keep their music to themselves”. But it’s not just about loud music, ask them if they’re light sleepers or what’s their sensitivity to light. Knowing these minor details in advance just helps set rules for the comfort of both you and your roommate.
7. Look the person up
Social media makes this super easy. Simply looking up your potential roommate to get an idea of their personality will go a long way in your decision making. Chances are you will find out more than you want to, but this can still help you decide if you can live with the person or not. The background check could also potentially save you from living with someone who you just know you won’t be able to get along with.
8. Finally, be honest about your own shortcomings
You’re a roommate to them as much as they are to you. So make sure you don’t present yourself as a flawless individual but come clean about your tendency to say, sometimes leave the window open or let the laundry spill all over the floor; of course, with a promise that you will try harder to be a better roommate every day.
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