Finding a roommate is one of the most important selections you will make in life. Don’t believe me? Well, if you’ve never seen the movie The Roommate, here is the gist: sweet college student Sara meets her new college roommate Rebecca as soon as she arrives. At first, it seems that this may be a friendship-match made in heaven. Soon, however, Rebecca becomes violently obsessed with Sara and bad things begin to happen to everyone in Sara’s life.
Needless to say, this is absolutely what you want to avoid when finding a roommate (although a psychological evaluation is not usually an option). But, finding a roommate is hard work and, once selected you’ll be in it for the long run. So, how do you preserve your safety, sanity, and peace of mind when choosing a roommate? Here are a few tips:
1. Get to know each other: Good chemistry is crucial. If you don’t have easy communication, and enjoyable conversation, you will never make it through a maintenance problem or power outage together. Meet with the potential roommate several times before making your decision if possible. This will give you both an opportunity to be confident you can work as a team to run the household.
2. Find out more: A good roommate is responsible, dependable and respectful. These are things that are hard to tell when you first meet someone. Luckily, asking for character references is a viable option. Ask for the names and numbers of three people (preferably not family) who have known the potential roommate for more than 5 years. Compile a short list of questions for each reference so that you can get a better idea of their good (and maybe not so good) traits.
3. Evaluate neatness: You should never judge a book by its cover, but there are some things you can get a better idea of after seeing someone in person. Most importantly for this discussion is hygiene. When you meet you potential roommate, take note of their “well-being”. In many cases, a person who does not maintain their own cleanliness will not maintain the cleanliness of your shared quarters. That brings me to my next point…
4. Divvy up the work: Keeping the home clean takes a lot of work. Neither one of you should carry the burden on your own. In order to keep the peace, discuss in advance the contributions that you both will feel comfortable making for the household. These responsibilities should be as specific as possible (e.g.: vacuum common areas once per week or hang towels up daily) to avoid any misunderstandings down the road. Unless you prefer to run a very tight ship, a missed chore every now and again does not warrant a broken lease agreement but taking ownership of tasks is a crucial element to cohabitating.
At the end of the day, (aside from safety) chemistry, responsibility and common ground are the most important elements between successful roommates. Building a strong friendship is not necessary, but is a pleasant side-effect of a good match.
What are some of the things you look for when finding a roommate? Do you have any roommate disasters? Let us know below in the comments!