To reduce the cost of rent, consider getting a roommate. But how do you find a good roommate? Try these seven tips to find the right one.
According to ABODO’s annual Rent Report, the national median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2018 was $1,025. Compare that to the figure for a two-bedroom unit—$1,255—and you’ll see that splitting your rent with a roommate is a no-brainer for saving money.
|Cost Per Person (1 person)||Cost Per Person (2 people)|
|1 BR Apartment||$1,025||$512.50|
|2 BR Apartment||$1,255||$627.50|
The actual figure for rent varies depending on your location, but regardless, it’s generally far more cost-efficient to share a two- or three-bedroom apartment with roommates than pay for a studio or single-bedroom unit. (Of course, you can save even more by splitting a one-bedroom unit, but that’ll be at the expense of your personal space.)
However, as many can attest to, finding a decent roommate is no easy feat—and with the all too common roommate horror story, the search shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are seven tips for finding a good roommate.
1. Define your top criteria.
Before you dive headfirst into your roommate search, establish just what you’re looking for. Determine the qualities you value most and conversely, your personal dealbreakers and red flags.
Defining these criteria can simplify the search by immediately weeding out candidates you feel iffy or indecisive about, saving you time in the long run.
How does money come into this?
When it comes to finances, you and your roommate don’t have to share the same exact goals but it’s helpful to know what financial page each of you is on. Your lifestyle and finances are finely intertwined, after all. That means decisions like what temperature you’d like to set your apartment’s thermostat can make a difference in your monthly budget.
For instance, a picture-perfect candidate may be clean and reliable, but also prefer to blast the AC 24/7, driving your electric bill up more than you’d like. On the other hand, someone who wants to share groceries and carpool just might be the perfect candidate.
2. Beware of living with a friend or coworker.
Many people may describe their ideal housing scenario as living with someone they already know, not a stranger. But this may not always be the best choice. In fact, in a poll by RENTCafe, only 26% of women and 29% of men living with their friends graded their roommates an A.
Though it’s easy to assume otherwise, friendship doesn’t necessarily translate into optimal living compatibility. The long-term exposure that comes from living together may reveal grating habits and annoyances, and ultimately damage your preexisting friendship.
Consider living with a friend of a friend instead. This kind of connection is already vouched for but isn’t too close for comfort.
Similarly, living with a coworker can be just as risky, with the potential of straining a professional relationship. Sure, you could carpool to work together—but sharing a living space with a colleague may prove toxic for work-life balance, and fuel office gossip or create an uncomfortable workplace dynamic.
3. Find a roommate using social media.
Craigslist’s classifieds section was once the go-to for finding roommates, but it’s no longer the only means of doing so. Thanks to social media, connecting with a potential roommate is easier than ever.
For starters, you can go public with your roommate search through a Facebook status. For a wider spread, enlist the help of your friends; ask them to reshare your status with their own networks or even ask around.
Additionally, you can find Facebook groups in your local city dedicated to housing—people looking for apartments to rent as well as those looking for roommates. A few major ones include:
- Boston Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets, Roommates, Roomster
- CHICAGO Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets, Roommates, Roomster
- Denver – Housing, Apartments, Rooms, Sublets, Roommates
- Houston Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets
- San Francisco, SF – Housing, Apartments, Rooms, Sublets, Roommates
4. Or, find potential candidates through roommate-matching apps.
If you don’t have any luck finding a roommate through social media, consider a roommate-matching app. Just like dating platforms, these apps feature detailed user profiles of others searching for roommates in your local area.
To get started, try one (or a few) of the following:
Note: Unfortunately, not all of these apps are available across the country.
5. Vet your roommate prospects through friends or social media.
With the friend-of-a-friend approach, you just might find a potential roommate through someone you already know. If that’s the case, ask your mutual connection what they’re like.
What if your potential roommate is a complete stranger?
Though perhaps not everyone’s first choice, living with a stranger is a viable option, so long as your roommate is vetted for safety and legitimacy. Fewer things are more terrifying than finding out the person you live with is not who he or she claims to be, as was the case with the nightmare roommate Jamison Bachman.
Once you’re in touch, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick Google or social media search of your potential roommate. Though it may seem nosy, social media feeds can shed some light on a stranger’s lifestyle and clue you in on what to expect from living with them.
6. Interview your roommate candidates.
The vetting process doesn’t end with a friend’s description or a look at your potential roommate’s social media.
Using your defined list of roommate criteria, create a set of questions for interviewing potential candidates. Consider asking some of the following:
- In case anything happens, do you have emergency savings?
- What’s your daily routine and/or sleep schedule like?
- Where and how do you spend your free time?
- How often do you have guests over?
- What are your drinking and smoking habits?
- How neat or messy are you?
- What are your pet peeves?
- What are your thoughts on sharing things, e.g., groceries?
- Do you have a pet or any pet allergies?
Prospective roommates may feel like they’re auditioning for a chance to live with you, but don’t forget that you’re up for evaluation as well. Your “interview” should thus be more of a getting-to-know-you conversation—complete with your own responses about how you are as a living partner.
Be honest about your own lifestyle habits; this may in turn encourage your prospective roommate to open up about theirs. Ultimately, neither one of you should feel obligated to provide a particular answer.
7. Draft a roommate contract.
As formal as it may sound, creating a roommate agreement can save you from the headaches of petty disputes by establishing terms for living together. The details of the contract are your call, but could include:
- How rent is split and when it must be paid
- A policy for hosting parties or guests
- Noise level and quiet hours
- Division of household chores and responsibilities
- How to deal with shared property
- What happens in the event one party wants to terminate the lease early
By setting expectations for living together, these provisions can help prevent conflicts that may have otherwise erupted from hosting one house guest too many or always forgetting to take out the trash. With clear boundaries set from the get-go, a roommate agreement provides peace of mind for moving forward with a new living arrangement.
Nearly one-third of U.S. adults reported sharing living spaces with others they were not romantically involved with in 2017—a steady increase from the 1990s. Perhaps it’s no surprise, as the rising costs of housing make living on your own far less practical, especially when burdened with student loans or credit card debt.
But remember that living with someone means reaching a certain level of intimacy that not all of your friends and relatives are privy to. With careful selection, however, an optimal roommate relationship can lead to a fruitful living arrangement and reduce housing expenses in the long run.