Having a roommate can save you money and make your place feel like a home. You may need a roommate for financial reasons if you live in an expensive area or are on a fixed income. A second person sharing a home can cut rent and utilities in half, or multiple roommates in a big house can make luxury living more affordable.
But your new roommate is more than a cash cow. They may bring habits, hobbies, guests, and pets into the home, so you should select someone you will enjoy living with – or at least tolerate. Living with someone who has a similar lifestyle can make cohabitation easier. Conversely, a roommate with a completely different schedule could feel like sharing a home with a ghost and leave you with more privacy.
1. Night Owls vs. Early Birds
You and your roommate may become frustrated with one another if you are constantly waking each other. If both of you wake and sleep at similar hours, you will be less likely to disturb each other when getting ready to go to work or bed.
On the other hand, opposite schedules could save you some frustration. For example, you may never need to wait to shower if one person works a typical nine-to-five and the other works the graveyard shift.
Imagine what it would be like to live with someone with the same or different schedule. Can you sleep through someone making breakfast when you are trying to snooze? Will you need to use a shared bathroom at the same time?
Almost everyone says they are clean, but you and your potential roommate may have different definitions of the word. Someone may say they are a neat freak, yet only clean the home once a month. You can ask questions to get a better understanding of their cleanliness habits, like:
- How often do you vacuum and dust?
- Do you clean your dishes immediately after use?
- Would you be open to a cleaning schedule?
- Does it bother you to see the common spaces messy?
3. Penny Pincher vs. Careless Spender
The financial habits of your roommate could leave you struggling to cover the bills, so you want to ensure they can pay their share of the rent, utilities, and other household expenses. Before signing a lease together, you should confirm they have an income source and some savings.
You should discuss the division of expenses and payment options. For instance, you may each send separate rent checks, or your roommate pays you to send one check to the landlord. Likewise, you may each have a utility bill in your name that you split. If all accounts are solely in your name, you may be on the hook for covering all the expenses should your roommate not pay.
4. Lifestyle & Habits
Sharing a home with someone means being an audience to their actions, behaviors, and interests. You and your roommate will likely do more than just clean and sleep. You should discuss their typical day, week, and weekend.
You may want to live with someone who shares your dietary preferences and restrictions. For example, the smell of bacon in the morning may be appetizing,or may be nauseating if you are vegan. Or, you may need to cancel your nut-of-the-month subscription if your roommate has a nut allergy.
Your roommate’s lifestyle could make you feel like a visitor in your home. You may not want to live with someone who is a private and quiet person if you throw house parties. Or your roommate’s friends could become annoying if they are constantly over.
5. Roommate or Friend
It is important to confirm that you and your roommate are on the same page regarding roommate relations. A roommate could be a new friend or just someone to help pay household expenses.
Whether you are looking for a new buddy or just a roommate, the person you are living with should want the same. For instance, you may find someone going through a similar experience, such as looking for a roommate after a breakup. Or, you may want someone financially reliable but stays out of your business.
6. Loner or Roommate Material
Before you look for a roommate, take an inventory of your living habits and attitude toward sharing a home. Your answers to the following questions could indicate whether you are a suitable roommate or someone who would do better living alone:
- Are you considerate of others and clean up after yourself?
- Do you know how to communicate effectively to avoid conflicts and being exploited?
- Do you financially need a roommate, or do you want one for the company?
- Are you easily annoyed by other people’s presence?