Living with roommates can be a nightmare, but it is becoming an increasing reality for many people looking for housing. Here are some tips to navigate the roommate selection process.
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One of the easiest ways to survive in a new city is to find a roommate. In fact, it’s a great budgeting idea in general — you save twice as much and hopefully can meet a great long-lasting friend with whom you can hang out. Many roommates aren’t exactly known for being ideal, though. In fact, roommates can bring about nightmare stories and make your life a living hell (get it?). Here are some red flags to watch out for when finding a roommate.

Red flags

Check to see if your potential roommate has reviews online. In college, word gets around fast about which people are better to live with than others. We may find that our best friends, though great to be around, are the messiest and dirtiest people we’ve ever known.

So, do adequate preparation in finding out who they are beforehand. Ask your friends, acquaintances and network if they have a connection to your roommate. They may be able to notify you of potential red flags about that particular person.

If your roommate doesn’t have a job, they’re probably not a good fit. If this sounds obvious, consider that many people choose their friends as roommates. That post-grad life can be tough, but don’t move in with the guy who threw frat parties and played video games all day and then be surprised when there’s not enough rent money to go around.

Look up your roommates’ social media profiles. Though social media only offers a mere glimpse into someone’s life, you can garner a good sense of who they are and what they like from pictures on their feed. Most roommates also have a website that they post their availabilities and listings on. If their ads are riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, that may not necessarily be a deal breaker, but is a red flag.

The most important thing for a roommate is responsibility. Even if you don’t bond with the person, or if they’re a jerk, as long as they keep their living spaces nice and tidy and are reasonable with cleaning, payments and household duties, it will not be a nightmare to live with them.

On the flip side, if your roommate is very nice to you and becomes one of your good friends, it may be hard to let them know when they’re messing up because you don’t want to ruin the relationship. They may be great people, but if you come downstairs to underwear on your stove top, an in-person conversation is needed.

To gauge how responsible a roommate is without living with them first can be tricky. If you sit with them and ask them questions before developing a relationship, it may rub all parties the wrong way and sour the apple, even before settling in.

If a rapport is built with them, however, then civil conversation can take place without seeming too invasive. Lifehacker recommends asking a few questions, including “How long have you been at your job?” and “Do you have emergency savings just in case?”

Consider asking them about their past. Questions such as “Have you lived with a roommate before?” and “What did you like/dislike about that experience?” can let you know why their last living arrangement did not work out.

The most important thing is building a relationship with your roommate — otherwise, things can go awry for even the smallest of questions. No matter how polite or reasonable you may be, there is bound to be some turbulence in the relationship.

Lifehacker recommends asking other questions, including those about rent, supplies, (“How do you think we should handle buying shared supplies like toilet paper, garbage bags, etc.?”) and, of course, chores (“How do you think we should handle the chores, like cleaning the common areas and washing the dishes?”)

Takeaway

If you are looking for a prospective roommate, consider looking at online resources, asking your network and checking reviews. Also consider writing reviews and doing the same — just as you are looking for others, they are looking for you.

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Header image: Getty Images

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Posted 01.22.2018 - 01:00 pm EST