How to Find a Good Roommate When Renting

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How to Find a Rental Roommate

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When you move into a rental property, you may consider splitting costs with at least one roommate. Rentals are rarely the homes you settle down in, so cohabitating with someone else in a transitional home is a good way to cut living costs.  But how do you find and choose someone to live with you in your rental? Finding a good roommate is important because if you choose a bad one, the whole move can be a disaster.

Why rent with a roommate?

Renting with a roommate can be a good idea for many reasons, but just because you are renting doesn't mean that you need a roommate. It is better to have no roommate and pay your own way alone than to try and make it work with a roommate that sabotages your whole existence. 

Good roommates...

  • Pay for half of the rent/utilities/home supplies
  • Do their half of the chores
  • Move half of the shared items into the home
  • Clean up after themselves
  • Have similar interests to you
  • Can become great friends
  • Can keep things more interesting than if you were alone
  • Are aware of your personal/medical issues and can help you in case of an emergency
Bad roommates...
  • Don't pay their fair share in a timely fashion
  • Don't do chores
  • Offer you no help or shared items during the move-in
  • Don't care about you and your medical needs
  • Invite people over without asking
  • Use your things without asking
  • Waste food and household products
  • Do illegal things in your home
  • Move out without warning
  • Could steal from you
  • Could kill you (worst case scenario, but not unprecedented)

How to find a good roommate

To get a roommate, you need to find someone who is willing to live with you. Before you start looking for strangers, you should see if there is anyone in your group of friends and family who could or would want to move in with you. It is always safer to room with someone you can trust. You could even make a status on Facebook to ask only the people you know if they want to be roommates.

Siblings are probably the best options since they already have experience living with you. Just make sure that the time for a move is right for all parties involved. You may be out of school and working at an entry level position but if your younger brother is still at university, he shouldn't leave his schooling to room with you.

Not every friend or family member is a good fit to live with, however. Friendship is not the same as living under one roof. Be sure to discuss a few issues before attempting to move in together.
  • How's your credit? A landlord may deny residents who have a bad credit history.
  • Can you afford to pay for rent, food, restocking the home, and utilities? Make it clear who will pay for what long before you move in together.
  • Any criminal history?
  • How secure is your current job/income?
  • Do you have any allergies/medical issues I should know about?
  • Are you okay with dealing with my allergies/medical issues?
  • What do you like to do with your free time?
  • What TV/internet plan do you want?
If you can't find a good candidate among the people you know, then you need to find a stranger to be your rental roommate. There are plenty of people out there looking to save some money by splitting the costs of temporary housing. However, you should carefully screen each potential roommate in addition to asking them the previous questions. Since you don't know them, they could be lying about anything they say.
  • Start with an ad in a newspaper near where you want to move or online on a site like Craigslist.
  • Only provide an e-mail or phone number in the initial ad. You don't want to give away too much personal information at this stage.
  • Don't immediately agree to meet anyone who responds right away. Once you have their name, you need to do a background check.
  • Use Google or Facebook to see if the person is who they say they are and if what they say is true.
  • If those resources don't work you could use more detailed online resources specifically designed to do background checks.
  • If you know anyone in the higher end of the business world, you could ask them to use whatever employee screening tools they have at their disposal to screen possible roommates. You never can be too careful when dealing with anonymous people from the internet.
  • After you are satisfied that the person is who they say they are, you can reveal more of your personal information and start planning the logistics of a possible move.
  • Reserve the right to decide it won't work even if the person is harmless. If you and your roommate have clashing lifestyles things can still go wrong.
If you can't find anyone, try putting "roommate wanted" ads in a wider range of online and physical places. If there are still no good candidates, rent a place by yourself and see if you can get a roommate later. Settling for a bad match is worse than going without a roommate.

If you do find someone and are satisfied that the roommate will pay, do chores, and get along with you, then you're in luck. You won't have to face that rental life alone anymore.

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on November 13, 2014 - Moving Expert
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