Moving in With a Roommate (What to Expect)

Moving in With a Roommate (What to Expect)

Category: Landlord Corner

Having a roommate is an experience most go through at least once in their lives, be it in a college dorm, a first-time move out from the folks' to save expenses, or even as a couple moving in together. On the other hand, we all know someone who refuses to live with anyone else because of the terror installed in their nervous system from living with a person who was, shall we say, not so compatible with their lifestyle.

Chances are the bad roommate stories happened because no research was done and no ground rules were set in place before the move in. There are cases when complete strangers move in together for convenience sake, and later find out they don't get along, to say the least. For this reason, keep these roommate laws in mind when considering who you should move in with and how it should be done.

1. Realize there is no 10 out of 10.

Nobody is perfect, not even you. Everyone will come with their own quirky habits and behaviors. No matter who you move in with, you'll always have to deal with things you don't like. This is part of your growing experience and will make you a more tolerable, not to mention tolerating a person in the future. Don't expect the best of the best, because you may never get it. If you really can't live with anyone, you'll find out after this first try, and from then on live alone and save yourself the hassle of even trying to find a roommate the second time around.

2. Get to know each other.

There are lots of people out there looking for a roommate for various reasons. There is no reason to pick the first one that comes along. If you've put an ad out requesting a roommate, have an appointment in a public setting (such as a café or mall) to figure each other out. You not only want someone who you can tolerate, you also want someone that can tolerate YOU. It won't be fun living with someone if they're bothered every time you breathe.

Be sure to ask if your candidate has had roommates before, and why they're looking for a new one now. You might get some insight into whether this person can't be lived with, or visa versa (perhaps in their previous roommate relationship they hated the loud music and smoking inside, which you also can't stand). See if they've got references from older roomies.

When you think your personalities match enough to be potential roommates, go on to the next step.

3. Reveal your annoying habits.

Tell each other now. Especially if you will literally be sharing a bedroom. Does one sleep with the light on? Does the other wake up really early to start practicing an instrument? Are there going to be burping or other bodily noise issues? Whatever it is, let it be known now. You don't want to be blamed for or shocked by anything down the road.

4. Set the ground rules.

Decide on chores that you will either split up or put on a rotating schedule. Make it clear what things are not tolerable, cleanliness-wise (e.g. hair all over the sink, dishes left out, dirty socks greeting you at the front door, etc.). Make an agreement, even in writing if you have to, that you will respect each other's hygienic practices. This will go a long way and prevent the feeling of personal space being invaded.

Set up a financial payment plan. How will you split the costs of cleaning supplies and toilet paper? Will you be getting a landline, or will you both only use your cell phones? In terms of rent payments, the best scenario would be to have both of you on the lease. That way, if things get spoiled, there won't be one lease-holder that will be legally responsible for damages and financial compensations if the other takes off in an unfriendly manner.

Convey your feelings about animals. It may be that neither of you owns any pets now, but who knows, down the road, someone might offer a free kitten to one of you that you just can't resist much to the other's disfavor. This can be a source of contention in the future and resentment can arise in the person who wasn't allowed to bring that cute little kitty cat home.

5. Finally, relax, and take it easy.

Don't expect the worst, just be prepared for it, and if you've followed the above steps, you've already done your job! This could be the beginning of a life-long friendship for the both of you that you won't regret. It all depends on your take of the situation. Be flexible, and you'll get flexibility in return.