Everybody knows that nowadays it is hard for an average young person to buy an apartment just like that. Especially if you are a student or you are trying to start your new, adult life in a new town. The most popular strategy for dealing with this situation, for most people, is to find a roommate or roommates. It is a financially sound decision, but it is not just that. If you click with your chosen roommate, they can become your best friends and help you settle in your new home a lot quicker than you would if you were living by yourself. They can show you the city if they are natives there, or explore it side by side with you.
However, finding such a roommate is not an easy task. If you don’t do this the right way, you might end up regretting the after you move in with them. We prepared a list of several things that you should do before you decide to move in with someone.
Visualize your apartment and your roommate
First, think about what kind of a place you want to live in. Will it be a house in the suburbs or an apartment downtown? Are you ok with sharing a room or you have to have separate bedrooms? Also, think about how much money you will be able to spend on rent and life expenses every month. After you have defined your own financial limits, it is time to think about the roommate. While you do not have to find a roommate with a lifestyle completely matching yours, it is important that your lifestyles are not in conflict with each other. Determine what your criteria about cleanliness, loud music, sharing groceries etc. are, and make a concrete list of them.
Friends and family
Talk to them first. Chances are that your friends know someone who is also looking for a roommate, be that their cousins or friends. They can also share their own experiences and give some practical advice on moving and how to find a roommate. Same goes for your family. Your aunt’s son has just enrolled into college and is looking for someone to live with, or you father’s coworker’s younger sister’s roommate had to move out and now there is an empty room in her apartment.
However, there is one important thing here that we have to warn you about in case you are thinking about moving in with a friend of yours. You should think very hard before you start living with a friend because, even though you may be really close to them, it is quite possible that your lifestyles are not really compatible. Your friendship could even fall apart if you are not careful, and that is why it is very important to treat them as if they were strangers and interview them as such.
How to find a roommate among strangers
Nowadays, the Internet is the go-to place for pretty much everything from buying a Star Wars board-game to finding tips on how to move, and the same goes for looking for a roommate. There are specialized websites that can help you with this problem too. Check your Facebook for University groups where you can post about looking for a roommate. If you have already found the apartment, describe it in details and post pictures, and be sure to list all those special requirements you have like that person being a nonsmoker, without pets, neat, tidy etc. You can also put on ads in local newspapers where you can say a couple of basic information about you, the apartment and your expectations.
Meeting with them
When the potential roommates start calling you and sending you messages, ask them to meet face to face. This is important because one of the riskiest decisions you can make is to accept after just one phone call. They may sound nice in those couple of messages you exchanged, but until you meet them and talk to them, you won’t know whether they suit you or not as roommates. Arrange a meeting somewhere public, in a coffee shop or a pub, and spend some time getting to know them. Remember that list that we mentioned at the beginning of this text? Talk with them about the items on your list (cleanliness, parties, sharing groceries…) and see what they think about them.
Asking the right questions
It is also very important to get a clear picture of their current overall life status. If they are students, ask them how they plan to provide the money for the apartment. Are they between jobs? This can be a really tricky question. You don’t want to start living with someone who is unable to pay rent on regular basis. Are they in a relationship? If they are, is their partner going to be a regular in your apartment? If the answer is “yes”, think about whether that bothers you or not. You should also check with them, how long do they plan to stay – Are they staying until next summer or are they staying there indefinitely?
Furthermore, talk about their interests and hobbies. It is always a good thing when you find a roommate who shares your interests, but it doesn’t have to be an obstacle if it is the other way around. It is more important for their hobbies not to mess with your daytime activities and plans. For example, them playing bagpipes in 8h AM could be a lasting problem for you. Are they someone who likes to drink? If that is the case, then how much and how often do they drink? Furthermore, it would be best if you could meet with those top 2 or 3 candidates for more than once, preferably in different settings too. This way they get the chance to prove and improve (or ruin) that first impression. That way your opinion of them will be complete, and you will be able to make a more educated decision.