How to Move in and Live With a Stranger

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How to Move In With a Stranger

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Moving in with a roommate is a good way to cut costs when renting a home or apartment. But what do you do when you can't find any friends, family, or even acquaintances to move in with you? You need to face the prospect of moving in with a stranger. How should you prepare and communicate to make the move and the cohabitation go as well as possible?

Screen your roommate

Before you move in with anybody, learn what you can about them and don't be afraid to back out of the living arrangement.
  • Look up their information
  • Ask about their job/pay
  • Check their profiles on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook
  • Do a more through background check on your own or through an agency if you're still worried about the identity of your potential roommate

Discuss your living arrangement

Regardless of your commitment level--to the roommate or the move--contact your potential roommate before the move takes place. Meet in person in a public place or just talk online. You need to know for sure that you can live together and start eliminating the strangeness from this stranger.
  • Ask about what he or she expects to pay and what you are expected to pay. Rent, utilities, groceries-- what is shared and what is paid individually?
  • Determine what space or items will be shared. Who has a fridge or television? Can they be shared? Don't pack redundant items.
  • Cleaning and chores need to be discussed. What level of cleanliness are you both comfortable with? Who is going to do what chores? Create a rotation or schedule before you move in together.
  • Set some food rules. Do you like the same foods? Will you separate the groceries or share them? Are there any allergies or extremely strong aversions to the smell of certain foods? It would be best to know this before you bring a potentially roommate-harming food into the home.
  • Find common interests. Do you both like similar movies or video games? Someone should bring an entertainment system and you can schedule a weekly game or movie night. Roommates don't have to become friends and do things together, but it will make life much more pleasant if you do.
  • Coordinate your schedules. Who will be working when? When do you have to get up? Who is available to do what chores at a given time?
  • What are your sleeping preferences? Can the white noise in one bedroom be heard in the other? When is a typical bedtime and waking time for you and your roommate?
  • What are the temperature preferences for each roommate? One person's "comfortable" could be another person's "shiver-inducing cold".
  • Are you or your roommate highly religious or easily offended by anything  another person might say or do? You don't necessarily need to endorse the same political party, but if one person is offended by swearing and the other casually curses all the time, it could be a shock to both parties.
These questions can't all be answered at once. Some of these are negotiations that will continue into the time you are living together. Accept that not everything is going to naturally align for you and a stranger to be perfect roommates. Choose a few deal-breakers and compromise on the rest of the issues.

When issues arise after the move in

No amount of screening or planning can avoid all the issues that come up when two or more strangers live together. There will be disputes. Make sure you deal with them before they become huge problems.
  • Address any issues early. Don't let resentment fester over time.
  • Be direct, but don't blame the person. Blame the action.
  • If there are more than two roommates, a democratic vote can determine the outcome of contested issues.
  • If you complain about one problem, be prepared for your roommate to also mention what he or she doesn't like about you.
  • Either compromise or move out. Those are your only options. When you look at it that way, you will be more willing to deal with the minor inconveniences that come with living with someone who is different from you.

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on November 20, 2014 - Moving Expert
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