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The potential roommate: a conversation guide

The potential roommate: a conversation guide

At work the other day, one of my colleagues told us that she is looking for a roommate. She gave us some basic details about the apartment and I started thinking about the times when I used to share a rental with a roommate. I’ve had quite a few of them, so I decided to put down some important aspects I would want to discuss with any possible roommate, based on my previous experiences.

When referred to marriage, people often call it “taking the plunge”, but if you come to think of it, moving in with someone you know and love is somewhat less scary than moving in with a stranger. Whether you are the one looking for a roommate in your space or the one looking to get into a new place, there are important things that need to be discussed before taking your own plunge. Some might call it an “interview,” others a conversation, you choose.

1.   Does his/her occupation or financial situation allow them to pay the lease & utility bills?

Even though it might seem indiscrete, this is probably the most important thing you need to hear to have peace of mind. Knowing if they are unemployed, part-time or full-time employees will make it clear to you if you can rely on them that they will be able to pay for the monthly rent amount and utility bills on time. Furthermore, the ideal roommate will be willing to co-sign on your lease, thus making them hold responsibility for anything that happens in the apartment throughout your cohabitation. 

2.   Pets or plans of adopting one (two)?

A pet can be seen as another family member, and even though the community or landlord might be pet-friendly, chances are that you or your future roommate have allergies that don’t cope with the pet. It might as well be the case that one of you doesn’t see the pet as someone to share the apartment with.

3.   Night owl or morning bird kind of person?

Compatibility regarding the time spent sleeping is highly important as sleep takes up to one third of our lives. Sleep invigorates not only the body, but also the mind, thus the quality of sleep is highly essential. Ask your future roommate what they need to sleep. Some people need a completely silent, dark, and chilly room to sleep soundly; others have no trouble sleeping in less sleep-organized rooms. It is good information to know.

4.   Any allergies? Peanuts, perfume, milk, flowers, mold…

The best cure for allergies is prevention. A person who suffers of allergies will have to take some extra measures to ensure a friendly environment for their sickness. Dust, perfume, flowers, or foods, if allergic to them, can be harmless by simply avoiding them. Moreover, in case of emergency it’s good to know what to expect and how to react to an allergic reaction. If your future roommate is allergic to some kind of ingredients, you’ll be careful not to offer food that contains them and won’t be offended if they ask more than one time what it that you’re offering is. And vice versa.

5.   What is your definition of clean?

Here too the key to a happy cohabitation is compatibility. Some wash their dishes right after use, others leave the scrubbing part for when the sink is overflowing or there aren’t any more dishes to use. Some sweep the floors daily while others have never used a vacuum. Even more so, there are those who clean the house with bleach and there are those who make their own eco-friendly cleansers out of vinegar and baking soda.

6.   Social habits?

It is important that you know if your potential roommate will have frequent game nights that will turn into overnight guests. Furthermore, knowing if there’s a girlfriend/boyfriend in the picture is also something you want to know beforehand.

7.   Lifestyle habits?

Find out if they smoke, drink, or like to listen to loud music; decide which of those you are OK with.

8.   Extra sweaters or extra money on utility bills?

Ask about energy and water habits because here, too, people are different: some consider it madness to turn the light on during daylight hours, while others prefer to keep the climate at a nice, reasonable temperature all year round.

9.   Home décor and furniture items?

It’s true, in a rental it is a bit more difficult to express your artistic self as you’re restricted by the lease. However, there are various things you can do to make your rental feel like a home. But when sharing the space with someone else, there has to be collaboration in the common areas: kitchen, hallway, living room, and balcony/patio. Discuss and see whether there is room for compromise or if your tastes are completely opposite. Also, consider compiling a furniture inventory so you can see if you’ve got too many of one item or not enough of another.

10.                Renter’s Insurance?

Knowing the benefits of the protection plan offered by renter’s insurance, and having your future roommate share your belief in its value, will bring you both the much needed serenity at home. Theft or vandalism, fire and personal liability protection in case of slip and fall liability claims, as well as medical payments, which provides coverage for medical expenses, which ever happens your belongings will be protected by renter’s insurance.