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How to Find the Right Roommate

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RoomiesNow that you’ve graduated from college, and have a job, you might decide it’s time to move out of mom and dad’s house.

Unfortunately, living on your own can be expensive. Even though you’re pulling down a regular paycheck, you might have trouble affording a place to live. Or, even you can make rent, you might not have enough left over (after your other bills) to do anything else.

If you are looking to strike that balance between living outside your parents’ house and saving money, one of the best ways is to get a roommate. You can split the cost of rent, as well as the utilities, and have a little more at the end of the month to spend on fun stuff or — better yet — to save for the future.

But finding a roommate can be something of a crap shoot. There’s a reason that I didn’t get a roommate for my dorm room while I was in college. I like my space, and I didn’t want someone up in it. But when you’re out of college and on your own, a roommate can be a good idea. Here’s how to find the right roommate for you:

Figure Out What Living Arrangement Works Best For You

Now that you’re out of college, try to avoid sharing a bedroom. You can get a two or three bedroom apartment (or rent a house with more rooms) and just share a bathroom, and still maintain some personal space.

Decide how many roommates you’re willing to live with, and then look for a rental that has the requisite number of rooms. Also, consider the bathroom situation. You can also decide whether you want all of your roommates to be the same sex as you, or whether you’re comfortable with a co-ed living arrangement.

Consider the pet policy as well. Do you mind if your roommie(s) has a pet? Make sure to get the basics of the living arrangements, from whether you want a smoker or not, to whether you want your own bathroom, figured out before you proceed.

Advertise for a Roommate

Let your friends and family know that you are looking for a roommate. You can also advertise in your local newspaper, or on online Classifieds sites. Many local coffee shops and other community gathering places have boards where you can post your desire to find a roommate. If possible, though, a referral can be your best bet, since someone you trust is vouching for the roommate.

Meet Potential Roomates

After you have a few responses to your request for roommates, it’s time to meet them. Meet candidates in a public place and have a good talk. While you don’t need to have an exact clone of yourself, you do want a feel for how compatible you would be. You can even ask about habits (and share your own preferences) related to sleep schedule, cleaning schedule, security requirements, hobbies, social life (and whether it would be carried out at the rental), music and movie preferences, thoughts on food sharing and communal meals, and whether or not there is a significant other that would be invited to tay over.

Talk about expectations, pay attention to your first impressions and feelings. It’s not unlike trying to decide if you want to go out on another date with someone.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the person after a few minutes, that could be a sign that you won’t be compatible roommates.

Bottom Line

There is no way to guarantee that you’ll get a good roommate. However, you can increase the chances of finding the perfect roommate if you do the advertising, and treat it kind of like a job interview, where you choose the roommate to come live with you, rather than answering ads for vacant rooms.

What do you think? How would you find the perfect roommate?

(Photo: M. M. Sand)

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6 Responses to “How to Find the Right Roommate”

  1. Kelly says:

    Why is the assumption that you’d only move out of your parents’ home only after finishing college?

  2. money says:

    Put an ad on craigslist for free and you will get many people looking for a place to stay. My mortgage is $800 per month but only pay 400 thanks to roommate or tenant. We both live in separate private locked rooms so i have privacy.

  3. admiral58 says:

    i wouldn’t live with a roommate even if you paid me now

  4. Thomas says:

    I found that the best fit for me finding a roommate was just going with one of my friends from the dorm. For the most part I already knew their habits and would just be whether or not they paid bills on time. After a few leases though I realize I just would rather not have a roommate. The advantage though is you save alot of money by sharing the bills and usually are never alone.

  5. Kendra says:

    I have always lived with a roomate(s) while in school. Then when I graduated, I mortagage was comparable to rent. So I decided to buy a house instead. I bought a house with renting in mind.

    My current house has split level. So the only space shared is the kitchen and laundry.

    Instead of asking for rent, I asked for home rennovation/home maintenance help. My current housemate is a professional handy man. So it’s nice to have someone much handier than me to fix up the house and upgrade. It’s a great way to improve without the high labor cost. He has his own bathroom, bedroom and office upstairs. He is installing his own shower and AC unit.

    I also rent the extra guest room for medical student on rotation. Usually the student is only renting for a month and move in with only clothes. It’s a nice way to earn income, but not commit to renting for a long period of time. I highly recommend this option to someone who would like to try renting out their property. It’s nice because medical students now a days have their background ran already for medical school admission. Plus, most on rotation are 4th year medical students, so they have already invested three years of intense training- so your getting a serious student.

    It’s nice too that Minnesota post all their public hearings (past and present online). So I run a check on all the counties before renting. I also use the state lease template for a lease. I ask for references and check up on them. It’s better to do diligent in advance then to deal with issues down the line.

    I also installed an electronic lock that uses a numeric code. So that you don’t have to re-key after each tenant move on.

    Having a clear expectations and line of communication is key to finding a great match/roomate.

  6. jsbrendog says:

    If you can afford the initial outlay and the first month’s rent your best bet is to get a 2 br yourself and then move in a roommate for more than half the rent.

    Especially in NYC you can end up saving big on rent this way.


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