Deciding whether or not to split the rent with a roommate is a BIG decision. Many people jump into it head first, not realizing the commitment that they’re making. Here are some things to consider BEFORE signing the lease with a roommate.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THIS PERSON?
Are you considering moving in with a relative? A friend from high school? A co-worker perhaps? No matter what you’re relationship may be to a person, you must consider how well you really know them. Have you seen other places that they’ve lived? Do you know how responsible they are? Do they pay their bills? Are they always complaining about not having money??
You have to keep in mind that the person that you choose to live with will be sharing most of the living space with you: Kitchen, bathroom, living room, washers/dryers. They’ll have access to your personal stuff, your furniture, everything. In the apartment rental business, we’ve come across many relatives that were definitely not roommate worthy. So do your research, and learn as much as you can about your potential roommate before making a decision.
ARE YOU ABLE TO TAKE ON THE RENT PAYMENTS IF YOUR ROOMMATE BAILS?
Believe it or not, sometimes roommates don’t pay their share. Or sometimes they up and leave you hanging. You need to determine if you’d be able to make it on your own if this were to happen to you. If a roommate doesn’t hold up to their end or they leave you with the apartment, you are both still responsible for that apartment. Remember that the lease is a legal contract that you both signed (most likely for a year), this means that you are responsible for the rent until that contract is up.
DO YOU KNOW WHO THEIR FRIENDS ARE?
If you’re living together, you may get to know your roommates friends very, very well. If there are already friends that you’re not fond of, you may want to consider how much you can tolerate being around them if you move in with their friend. Being that rent and space is shared, you’ll have to respect each others choices and if you can’t deal with your roommates friends, it’s better to learn that now.
DISCUSS YOUR PET PEEVES (AND FIND OUT THEIRS)
Can you live with someone who pulls at your pet peeve strings? If your roommate doesn’t hang their towel up the way you like it, or put the dishes away just right, is it going to drive you mad or can you live with it? There are going to be compromises no matter who you decide to share a space with, but it’s best to learn ahead of time what those compromises will be.
IF YOU HAVE DECIDED TO SIGN THAT LEASE WITH A NEW ROOMMATE, here are some tips to help make it a smoother experience:
- Create a chore schedule
- Discuss visitors and, if needed, create a visitor schedule (in case your roommate likes to have people over at all hours of the night)
- Communicate about any issues. You definitely don’t want to complain about every little thing, but you also should be open and up front when there’s something really bothering you. It’s best to approach it before you explode.
- Set clear boundaries. If you do not plan to share your food, let your roommate know this up front (or find out if they’re not sharers).
- Discuss how and when the rent will be paid. Will you send separate checks? Pay cash?
- Give each other space. It’s great that you have someone to spend your chill time with, but both of you should have solo time too. Respect that.
- Treat their stuff the way you would want your own stuff treated. If you don’t care about your stuff, then treat their stuff the way that you would treat an antique at your grandmother’s house.
- Don’t forget the Renter’s Insurance!