You’ve decided to move out of your parents’ basement and finally get a place to call your own. But unless you’re working full-time during your studies, that also means you need to find a roommate. So how exactly do you go about finding someone who won’t leave you feeling disillusioned after just a couple of weeks?
Maybe your old roommate flaked, moved back home, or is taking the next step with their partner. The point is, you need a roommate yesterday. But don’t just rush out and pick the first person you see on Craigslist. Finding a roommate is a lot like dating, and similarly, though it might take extra work, you will be rewarded for waiting for the right person to come along. After all, you’re going to be seeing them every day, and it’s likely your apartment is small.
Procrastinate with purpose
This one seems obvious, but use social media to your advantage when looking for a new roommate. Sharing space with close friends and family often makes for a sticky living situation, especially if things get heated. However, that doesn’t mean your nearest and dearest don’t know someone great. People you’re familiar but not close with are often a good choice. If you volunteer in the community or you’re part of a club at school, ask around for suggestions.
Find out whether you’re compatible
Living arrangements are one area where opposites do not attract. Asking the right questions while searching for a roommate could mean the difference between getting your ZZZs or being up all night because your new co-tenant likes to host wine-fuelled karaoke every Wednesday night. Making sure you have similar study habits, sleeping schedules, and party expectations will ensure everyone is happy.
Ask for references
It’s easy for someone to act like they’re the perfect match when you only spend 20 minutes getting to know them. If you really want to understand their habits, good and bad, ask for a list of references. Parents, neighbours, and previous roommates will be able to give you a better sense of how this person handles the different situations that may arise while living together. And anyone who will take the time to compile some references for you is off to a good start already.
Put it in writing
Avoid arguments from the beginning and make sure the most important points are captured in a roommate contract. This way both parties know what they’re getting into off the bat, and you have a document to come back to when problems arise. Anything from doing the dishes to how often the boyfriend sleeps over are fair game.
Graphic by Kia Valdez Bettcher.