Choosing a good roommate
If you're going to live with someone for the first time, it helps to make some decisions about what you want from a roommate in advance. The main thing to remember is there's no such thing as the perfect roommate - just the perfect roommate for you.
Seven questions to ask yourself before you live with someone
1. Am I looking for a new best friend?
If you're new to renting, sharing an apartment is a great way to make friends and have an instant social circle. If you've lived in a city for a while you'll probably already have plenty of friends and will just be looking for somewhere to live.
Both are okay, but it's best to be clear about what you're looking for. If you want time to yourself but your roommate wants to hang out all the time it might not work for either of you. Of course roommates become great friends all the time, but it's best not to put that pressure on the relationship from the start.
2. Should I live with friends?
It might make sense to live with someone you already know and like, but sharing with friends can put stress on your relationship.
We ran a poll asking renters 'who makes the best roommates?'. The results may surprise you (they surprised us!):
- An existing friend - 28%
- A friend of a friend - 17%
- Someone you don't know - 55%
So, if you want to stay friends with friends, maybe you should live with strangers.
3. Are your routines compatible?
Let's face it: if you're in bed by 9pm and up at 6am, you're not going to enjoy living with someone who's cooking their dinner at midnight...
Ask them about their work schedule. If you work from home you might (both) find it frustrating having another person in the house during the day. On the other hand, if you live with someone who works night shifts and sleeps during the day, tip-toeing around the house could get boring very quickly.
4. Are your cleaning habits similar?
Cleaning is the number one cause of arguments between roommates and everybody has different ideas of what ‘clean' means. What's messy to you might be acceptable to someone else.
Be honest with yourself about how tidy you are and try to choose a roommate with similar standards of cleanliness. It's no fun for anyone if you're a neat freak but your roommate is happy to leave their dirty dishes hanging around for days (or the other way round).
5. Have I met everyone?
If you're the one moving into a new place, make sure you meet all of the roommates before agreeing to move in. Even if you've met two out of three and get on really well, don't chance it. If you discover you can't stand the third after you've moved in then it'll be too late.
6. What about house rules?
It's good to talk about cleaning up front, but there might also be other things to consider before you agree to live together. Maybe bringing random people back to the house is a big no no? Or you'd rather not live with someone who smokes. Maybe your new roommate has a partner who'll end up staying over several nights a week - is that okay?
Talking about it in advance makes sure you're on the same page from the beginning and could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
7. What have you got in common?
A great place to start if you're looking for another member of the gang or a social apartment share is to figure out if you have things in common. If you're a massive football fan then someone to watch the game with could be ideal, or maybe you're really into the gym and would prefer a workout buddy.
Shared interests don't necessarily mean you'll get on great, but they can be a good starting point.