Nowadays very few people can afford to live alone. The economy may be “bouncing back,” but many of us are still financially strapped. Lawyers are taking in laundry and doctors are babysitting for side cash. In Taylor Swift’s New York, you might need seven roommates to afford to even think of living in Manhattan. Even CEOs have roommates in San Francisco.
That being said, how do you find the right roommate? It can be the perfect blend of the most annoying parts of first dates, job interviews and public speaking. However, it’s one of the most necessary evils. If you want to save a few coins on your rent, you’ll need to find someone to split utilities with. If you make the wrong choice, you could end up living with a hoarder, thief or someone who wants to “Single White Female” you. Here’s some tips on finding a good match.
1. Try all modes of conversation.
Sure, e-mail or text is easier. However, a quick phone call can show you if there are any red flags right off the bat. If someone seems weird, has a disconnected number or is generally snippy, you might not want to waste the time on the phone. It also gives you a great chance to establish a rapport even before you get there, which could just get you the apartment.
2. Don’t be desperate.
Apartment hunting is stressful, but so is filling an apartment. If you give off an air of desperation, it’s a major turn off. People will assume you haven’t thought anything through and will auto-add you to the bottom of the queue.
3. Be yourself.
This is meant to be your new home. Your roomie might see you looking grubby, so why try to pretend you’re something you’re not? Full 100 percent transparency will not only make it even easier for you to find someone, but also help you start your relationship off right. If you’re a snarky, loud talker with resting bitch face, then introduce your prospective roommate to who they would be living with. Honesty makes everything easier because after all, they are real people, too.
4. Discuss how you approach conflict.
It may not be the sexiest conversation, but it’s worth having. If you’re a direct communicator and your potential roommate is a “let’s communicate through notes, e-mails, and texts,” that could be a problem. You have to find someone who you can resolve house issues with without things escalating. You don’t want frosty interactions or worse yet, open hostility because you can’t come to terms with a dish in the sink.
5. Discuss rules and boundaries upfront.
It’s good to list your few deal-breakers. Do you need silence, no smoking and no animals in the house? Do you want to live in a shoes-off apartment? Will you be entertaining sex partners five out of seven nights a week? Try to establish and gauge what your common boundaries and acceptable house rules are. This will help you decide if you really want to live there.
6. Inspect the level of cleanliness.
Check out the bathroom and kitchen. Sneak a peek into your roommate’s room. See if this is your preferred level of cleanliness. Also, discuss the hypothetical delegation of chores to get a feel for your roommate’s hygiene habits.
7. Take your time.
It may be the most important decision you make after getting off the bus from Iowa, but keep calm. You want to really think about what life would be like with this person. Check out the room, walk around the neighborhood and listen for noise. Also, check out your neighbors and see if they’re a good fit.
8. Make them feel like home.
If you’re screening new roommates, try not to be too formal. If you’ve thoroughly vetted people with a phone call and e-mail exchange, ask them to sit down, offer them a drink, talk about life and get to know them. You don’t have to be friends, but you do have to see them after going to the bathroom, looking grubby in the morning — and maybe even naked, so a 10-minute conversation seems fair.
9. Ask questions.
Think about real-world problems and how they’d be resolved. Do they expect houseguests? Do they like to stay out late? Do they like to get up early? Do they make weekly animal sacrifices to the demonic god Ra? You have to know.]
10. Listen to your gut.
Sometimes red flags will present themselves organically. If something doesn’t feel right, if it doesn’t feel like home or if the person seems sketchy, trust your instincts.
Do you have roommate horror stories or tricks you used to meet your current roomie? Share them in the comments below or with @theblotmag on Twitter.