Renting anywhere in America is getting more and more expensive. In major cities with attractive job markets for young, educated people it’s even worse.
One of the best ways to save money on the cost of housing is to get a roommate.
To help you out we’ve created a guide that explains the pros and cons of roommates, how to find a quality roommate, and a roommate survival guide.
Benefits of Roommates
The most obvious benefit of a roommate is cutting your rent payment in half or even more. Living with someone else lets you find larger, nicer apartments near me in better areas.
It also leaves you with more of your money to use for food, entertainment, or the ever-popular student loan payments. Depending on where you’re located roommates become less a choice and more a necessity.
Places like San Francisco, New York City, and other major urban hubs are rapidly becoming far above unaffordable. Renting even a studio is almost impossible for working Americans.
Beyond the direct rent and utility savings having a roommate gives you other benefits. They can provide some of the common area furniture, split food costs, and help keep you company.
If you’re living with a good friend every night can feel like a party.
Downsides of Roommates
With all the good things that come with roommates, the downsides can be equally bad. Everyone’s heard roommate horror stories or lived them out themselves.
Living with another person is a delicate balance. Even close relationships can become strained once you become roommates.
When it comes down to it, some people just have weird living habits. Living with a roommate means you have to coexist alongside them and their schedule. If one of you works nights and the other days it can be really difficult to deal with.
Significantly different eating and recreational habits than your roommate are also a recipe for conflict. In the worst case if you have a shared lease you may suddenly find yourself on the hook for the entire rent. This leaves you in the unenviable position of trying to suddenly cover twice the housing expense you expected while desperately searching for a new roommate.
How to Get Along With Roommates
Whether you’re living with a close friend or a near stranger there are basic steps you can take to make it at least tolerable. The most important of these is to establish boundaries and responsibilities early on.
Common areas are one thing, but most people would be weirded out to discover their roommate was in their bedroom. When you’re moving in sit down and discuss what your expectations and limits are.
Clearly lay out what you are and aren’t comfortable with and ask them to do the same. It’s not a bad idea to set ground rules for things like significant others or friends sleeping over or the protocol for parties or events.
Make sure everyone knows exactly how utilities and other additional fees will be split. A common way to do this is to divide who signs up for different things like power, internet, and the all-important Netflix.
In the past, if you didn’t come to a new city with a friend you were limited in your roommate vetting options. Nowadays there are tons of great apps that will help you find an acceptable roommate.
You can start your search with things like gender, age, and basic interests. This will give you a fairly large list of people and doesn’t really narrow it down much. By adding in things like opinions on pets, work schedule, and other likely friction points you can narrow it down considerably.
Some will even let you find an apartment near me with a potential roommate already living there. This gives you a chance to meet them and see how they live on a day to day basis. It’s great to find out if they’re a neat freak or a slob well before you sign a lease.
Bend Don’t Break
Living with a roommate is one of the best ways to save money while still living in a killer apartment. The trick is to find someone you can compromise with on the little things without breaking any of your hard limits.