You found the perfect 2 bed apartment, but how do you find the perfect roommate? Well, ask all of your friends and post something on Facebook, right?
WAIT! What about all those people on Facebook that think they are your friends, but you have secretly unfollowed? What about your actual friends who are a lot of fun, but the thought of sharing a living space with them turns your stomach? You have to take into account someone’s personal habits and style of living, do they match yours?
Before you and your best friend decide to become roommates, take a step back and treat this like a business decision. There are some serious pros and cons to having a roommate. You will have co-financial responsibilities with this person. If they are late on the rent then you have to cover it. Don’t forget about utility bills. When interviewing potential roommates, treat it like a job interview. Is this person qualified? Are they reliable?
Sometimes the best way to end friendships, is to become roommates.
The Art of the Interview
Any potential roommate should be thoroughly interviewed. Get to know them and ask important questions about their lifestyle. Do they have a steady income? What kind of schedule do they keep? Are they up late all the time, while you tend to go to bed early? Are they neat and organized or a little more free spirited? Are they in a serious relationship? How often might that significant other be over at the house? What about having friends over, how many and how often? Here is a complete list of the 21 best questions to ask potential roommates.
Discreetly Ask Your “Qualified” Friends
Decide which of your friends is qualified to be a potential roommate. Discreetly interview a select group of them, and ask them not to mention it. Other friends who didn’t get asked might be offended. There is an important distinction between the friends you have the most fun with, and the friends you think you could live with. Take a step back and be objective. Can you really live with this person every day in a 2 bed apartment? Or is your relationship better in small doses? Even best friends don’t always make the best roommates.
There are a lot of great resources online, but be cautious. Craigslist is probably the oldest and most common place on the web to find a roommate. It also can be one of the most dangerous. There is little protection and no pre-qualification on Craigslist. Meaning that it’s full of scammers and people who have no business living with anyone, mixed in with some qualified applicants. Be careful and conduct thorough interviews. For a pre-qualified group of applicants, check out RoomieMatch.com. They have real people review all profiles of potential roommates. Anyone who’s profile and answers raise red flags gets eliminated before they get to you. They even do personality testing to help find a good match.
DO NOT SUBLET!
Always apply individually and directly with the property owner or property management company. There should be lot’s of paperwork, applications, credit history etc. Don’t sublet from someone else, and don’t sublet to someone else. Most property management companies forbid this practice anyway, but it happens illegally all the time.
If you sublet directly from an existing roommate, you have no contract and no protections at all. They can decide that you have to move out on a whim, because they got back together with their boyfriend and just like that you’re out without time to find another place and without proper legal notice. People are often tempted to sublet to others when a roommate moves out because it sounds easier. Instead of waiting for the property manager to go through all the paperwork and approvals, you get to just take a check from them for their half of the rent and they can move in right away! Except that you are likely violating policies that put you at risk of penalty fees or even eviction. You also take on the full responsibility of the lease since their name is not on it. They can stop paying rent and bail on you in a heartbeat. Here’s a breakdown of the risks of subletting from the LA Times.
It's a Long-Term Relationship
Remember, you are going to be stuck with this person in a lease for 6 months to 1 year. In a 2 bed apartment that can be a very intimate relationship. It’s just the two of you with no other roommates to act as a buffer or to mediate disputes. Do your homework and make sure they are a good fit. Interview them and hang out socially. Can you go to see their current place to get a sense of how they live? When a roommate situation goes bad, it’s really bad. Set expectations and make sure you are also living up to your end of the bargain by being a good roommate.
Finding a good roommate can make your life so much easier. If you have paid attention to the selection process, this person can become a great friend and source of support. Being a roommate also forces you to be self-aware and grow as a person. Once you find the perfect match and move into your new place, here’s a list of 13 Things To Do Immediately After Move-In!