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Roommate Living

By Julie Fishman
Quick Tips
  1. Compatible vs. likeable – Good friends don’t necessarily make good roommates. The tensions of shared living could make even the best of friendships turn sour. If you and your BFF don’t vibe in terms of everyday living, find someone else.
  2. Finding a roomie – If you don’t have anyone lined up, try the Gradspot Roommate Finder, or down a tallboy of common sense and hit up Craigslist.
  3. Establish ground rules – You can avoid unnecessary drama if you set down house rules beforehand. Under whose name will the lease be under? How will you divide the rent and bills? Will you decide to split the cost of furniture? Take care of all your housekeeping before you and your roommate(s) move in to nip conflict in the bud.
  4. Sweating the small stuff – Don’t be shy about confronting your roommate about rude or inappropriate behavior. Addressing the problem head-on is always better than letting emotions build up, and it will save you bruised egos (and broken bones) in the long run.
  5. Building a Love Nest – Moving in with your significant other is a bold move that could take the relationship to the next level. Before you settle with your sweetheart, though, make sure that you’re ready to get to know the person at a very intimate level. If your main motivation is to save on rent, you should think again.

We all had roommates in the drunk and hazy college dorm days, but when work and bills enter the picture, the whole "Dude of course your friend can stay on the couch for three months" attitude begins to wear off. With responsibility comes stress, and nothing brings out people’s dark-sides more than being tired and late for work. Roommates cuts costs and provides a live-in

drinking buddy, but they can also cut sanity and provide a major pain in the ass. So if you are going to go the roommate rout after college, remember to choose wisely.

Proceed with Caution: Choosing a Roommate

You didn’t get to choose your first college roommate, which probably explains why she was a Bulgarian exchange student with a pet rock. But with choice comes anxiety, self-loathing, and eventually regret. A best friend, it must be said, is not always the best choice. The friendship might not outlive the tensions of shared living. Better to go for a minor acquaintance. A friend of a friend will feel much less comfortable wearing your underwear, and if it doesn’t work out, you won’t feel so bad never speaking to her again. Keep the following questions in mind while deciding on potential roomies:

  • Are you/they a morning person or night owl?
  • Do you/they envision the place being a party pad or a residence of relaxation?
  • What kind of people do they hang out with? Will your peeps and their peeps be gellin' like Magellan?
  • Are they in a serious relationship and will their significant other stay over a lot? Will that bother you?
  • Are they clean? Too clean?
  • Do they have any annoying hobbies or pets?
  • Are you in the same price range as them—be sure to consider electric bills, cable, Internet, and furniture. Money is the root of most disputes, so be crystal clear on how much each resident is willing to spend.
  • Smoker (all kinds)?
  • Are you okay living with someone of the opposite sex? Just because they’re a chick doesn’t mean they’ll be neat, and just because they’re a dude doesn’t mean they’ll fill the bathtub with beer cans.

After you get a good idea of the type of person you want to live with, click over to the easy-to-use Gradspot.com Roommate Finder to locate a match made in post-college heaven. You can also use Craigslist to find roommates, but make sure you meet them in person before committing. The site is full of freaks, liars, and everything in between (including great roommates).

How to Avoid Living La Vida Loca

Though you’re not married to your roommate, living together is a commitment and with any commitment comes drama. Some disputes are inescapable, but some can be avoided by setting some house rules and restrictions beforehand. Consider the issues below before or at move-in so you don’t end up on Jerry Springer:

  • Lease – The lease question is an interesting one. If you want control over the apartment you may want to keep the lease in your name. That way if any big problems arise you can boot a bad roommate faster than a tone-deaf heifer on American Idol. But not having your roommates name on the lease also means you become the landlord by proxy, responsible for getting the rent together on-time or covering the whole rent yourself if your roomie decides to fly the coop.
  • Rent – Will one person pay more due to certain privileges like a bigger room or parking spot? Rooms can be pro-rated based on square footage, but you may want to take other things into account like closet space, number of windows, noise levels (if one is closer to the street), or proximity to the bathroom.
  • Bills – Divide the duties—if one person covers cable, the other should make sure the lights stay on. If you only watch Wu-Tang videos online and your roommate keeps the cable box in her room, she should pay more of the cable bill. Consider signing up for automatic bill pay to reduce hassle and avoid late payments.
  • Groceries – Decide up front whether food will be separate or shared so that tension doesn’t arise when the roomie lays a finger on your Butterfinger. There are some things the apartment will regularly need, like toilet paper, napkins, and trash bags. Will these items be bought as needed or should there be a group Costco outing once a month to stock up Y2K-style?
  • Furniture – You may have some stuff left over from college, but chances are most of it is more worn-out and beer stained than Nick Nolte’s v-neck. Figure out what’s usable and then discuss who will bring what. If items need to be bought, decide whether the cost will be split or if one person will foot the bill and maintain sole ownership. The problem with splitting is that eventually you move out and somehow own a quarter of a flat-screen TV and a third of a chez lounge. One potential solution is to agree upon what big-ticket items everyone wants to have (e.g., couch, TV, dining room table), and then have each person handle an item in full. Another option is to split the cost but have each person pay a higher cut for the things he wants to own at the end.
  • Visitors – How late is too late and how long is too long? A roomie whose friends overload the couch and hijack control of the living room TV will get annoying incredibly quickly.
  • Chores – Keep in mind that people have different cleaning habits—some tidy up every day, some every week and some do a big “Trading Spaces” overhaul once a month. If your roomie cleans less often than you do, don’t try to force him onto your schedule. Instead, try to make a compromise with other chores or get him to pitch in for a maid.
  • Toilet Tribulations – A word of advice to guys living with chicks: cliche or not, it’s true, falling into the toilet is about as fun as a swift kick to the balls.
  • A Room of One's Own – Since it’s your only private space, you should be sure to decorate the bedroom in your own unique way so that it serves as an asylum from the hell that can be communal living. Feng-shui the room so that you don’t Kung-Fu the roommate.

If something is pissing you off, don’t let it fester. Talk things out before the situation gets out of control. There is often a simple solution, like putting the top back on the mayo jar or flushing the toilet after dropping the kids off at the pool.

Living with a Lover

There are many good reasons for moving in with a lover (security, finances, morning sex…), but the key motivation should be to take the relationship up a level. It’s said you learn more in a week of living with someone than in a year of dating…so before rushing in, you should make sure that you want to get to know the person on a super intimate level. On top of the questions and rules discussed above, there are a few more things you must consider before turning Romeo into roommate:

  • Rent – Will the price be split evenly, pro-rated based on salary, or paid entirely by one person? If your man squeeze is the sugar mommy or daddy, you need to pick up the slack elsewhere by taking charge of the laundry or providing ample oral sex.
  • Bank Accounts – A joint bank account may seem like something only married couples do, but in truth, a good portion of those living together open one to simplify shared finances (e.g., rent, utilities, cable, phone, Netflix).
  • Possessions – If you’re moving into your lover's pad, you shouldn’t just throw all your stuff away. You should merge the two apartments and store the rest, just in case the relationship goes from sweet to sour.
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