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How to Find the Right Roommate

Now 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 [3].

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 [4].

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 [5])