The reality of high rent costs in NYC means that many of us can’t afford to live alone, and often you’ll need to split rent with another person or several people. Roommates can offer cost and space efficiency and become great friends, or they can be messy, unreliable and noisy. So, before you enter a semi-long-term, committed relationship with a complete stranger, here are some screening tips.
Bills, Bills, Bills
People often say that one of the biggest sources of stress in marriage is money. The same can be said for roommates. Money conversations can be awkward but are best discussed first up. It’s a good idea to establish, before you move in or someone moves into your place – obviously, can they afford rent? Do they have a steady job or is their rent paid for by someone else? How will the bills be paid each month? Who is responsible for paying them? Who will be paying who back for what? It’s also a good idea to establish an expected timeline for payments. If you pay the full rent every first of the month, do you expect your roommate to pay you back that day? A day or two before? Or is a few days later ok?
Just like hiring someone for a job, you want to find a roommate who has been there, done that. Ask the potential candidate about the best and worst roommate experiences that they’ve had. You can learn a lot about a person by hearing about the troubles they’ve encountered and how they dealt with them. The more you talk with the potential roommate, the more you’ll get a feel for whether or not you actually get along. Do you enjoy their company? Or can you just not wait to get out of the situation? Taking the time to talk to the person and discovering if they’re the right person, could be the difference between a friend for life that you look forward to seeing at the end of the day, or horror stories that you’ll tell at dinner parties for years to come.
Consider the space you’ll be sharing. Apartments where autonomy is possible (e.g. having large bedrooms or two common spaces) work best in roommate situations, however this is not always possible. If you’re moving in with a friend or your roommate will never be home, it may not matter that the space is small and intimate. Think about if the space will work with your respective lifestyles. Do they have a pet? Like being alone? Watch a lot of TV? Determine how you’re going to decorate. Who will be responsible for contributing which items to the common areas? If you or they are particular about décor, let it be known up front. Talk about things you might be confronted with within your shared space – bedbugs, bad neighbors or an unresponsive superintendent for example, and how you would deal with these together.
Right to Rule
Once you’ve found the perfect roommate, it’s a good idea to come up with some rules together. Talk about how often you like to have friends over, if you expect the house to be spotless and tidy all the time, if they plan on getting a pet or how often a significant other is allowed to sleep over before they have to start paying rent. Even though it’s early days and these conversations may seem premature, it’s better to have an open discussion and maybe even put the decision in writing, that way if there are problems down the line, you can refer back to what you both once agreed upon.
While we can help you find the perfect home in Brooklyn, check out the below services to help you find the perfect soul/roommate!