If you’re just starting out in your career, you likely live on a fairly tight budget. You have to weigh carefully where your money goes each month, balancing the costs of things like food, clothes, transportation, entertainment, and housing. Housing is usually the highest fixed monthly cost that people have to meet, so keeping it low can make a big difference. One way to cut your housing cost and make more room in your budget is to live with a roommate.
Use your words.
Clear and open communication is your primary tool for building a respectful relationship with your roommate, which is essential to a positive living experience. When you begin discussing sharing an apartment or house, be clear about your expectations, and ask about your potential roommate’s expectations. Beginning by discussing typical sources of contention is a powerful way to prevent many roommate problems. Having a preemptive conversation about topics like these can help you avoid many common roommate challenges:
- Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you like to have lots of company, or do you prefer your home to be a sanctuary? Do you want to establish guidelines about providing advance notice of guests, a limit on numbers of guests or duration of their stay (is overnight okay)? What if one of you wants a significant other to stay over frequently?
- Are there hours that you need quiet? How loudly do you like to play music (and are your tastes compatible)? Do you have hobbies that are noisy (like practicing an instrument)?
- Lay out your expectations clearly around things like dishes, clutter, and routine cleaning responsibilities.
- If your apartment allows pets, are you open to having them? Do you have allergies to any pets? What pets would be acceptable or unacceptable?
- Understanding each other’s schedules will help you negotiate things like bathroom time, meal preparation, and the best times to have guests.
Bills and other living costs
- Make agreements about how and when you will pay rent, bills, and other costs.
- Who will make the rent payment? What happens if one of you doesn’t have your share on time?
- Whose name will be on the utility bill? If one of you is away from home for an extended period, will you still share the cost?
- How and when will you and your roommate transfer money between you to cover your respective costs?
- How will you handle grocery costs? Will you share some items (like dish soap, toilet paper, and condiments) while keeping other things to yourselves? If you’ll be sharing some items, do you already make similar purchases? (For example, if you insist on eco-friendly products and your roommate hunts for the lowest prices, sharing might not be a good option).