Is it better to live with a roommate or alone? Well, that depends. Are you the type who cherishes privacy and is particular about your home? Or, do you enjoy being around people and having the opportunity to meet the random strangers a roommate might bring home? If you know which one sounds like you, you’ve probably got your answer.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-person households are on the rise with 28.4% of people choosing to live alone. Still, nearly 32% of adults said in 2017 that they were living with at least one roommate. For many, the choice isn’t simply about personal preference — it comes down to the almighty dollar. Since you’ll be sharing expenses, you’ll have more room in your budget for other things. But you won’t just be sharing rent and utility bills, you’ll be sharing your belongings, food, personal space and even your lives. That’s why it’s important to take a few steps before you and your roommate(s) sign on that dotted line to ensure your communal environment is a harmonious one.
FIND A ROOMMATE
So you’ve decided to move in with a roommate — now what? A good first step is to leverage your existing network of friends and coworkers to see if anyone else is looking to cohabitate. But, beware: Living with friends may sound like a great idea, but many times it turns out horribly. Loving someone and living with someone are two very different situations.
If you’d prefer to live with someone new and keep your social and private life separate — or if you are moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone — consider online services like Roomster or Roommates.com that allow you to search nationwide using filters to help find that perfect fit.
LAY ALL OF YOUR CARDS ON THE TABLE
If you want to live peacefully with your roommate, you need to have some conversations before you move in together. Some questions to ask a new roommate:
- What is your work/sleep schedule?
- What are your expectations for having guests over for socializing, or for having significant others staying at the home?
- What level of cleanliness in common areas do you both require?
- How do you plan to split the bills?
- What do you expect from your roommate? New BFF, or two ships passing in the night?
PUT IT IN WRITING
Once you’ve found and figured out how to live with your new roommate, it’s time to make it official — and we don’t just mean the lease agreement. You’ll also want to create a less formal — but still legally binding — roommate agreement. This document will take some of the questions you and your roommate (hopefully) discussed before shaking on it and put them into written form so should any issues arise during your time together, you’re covered. Some things to include:
- How you’ll divide rent, and how and when rent will be paid. Decide if one or both of you will submit to your landlord, or if only one of you pays, how the other will deliver their portion of the rent.
- Splitting of the bills. Depending on which utilities are not covered in your lease, clearly enumerate how you intend to split any bills with your roommate and, again, how and when those are to be paid.
- How to handle the security deposit. Plainly state how the security deposit will be paid, by who, and how and when it will be returned.
- What to do if one of you moves out early. If a job asks one of you to move, or if you realize you cannot happily live together anymore, what’s expected for the roommate who is leaving before the lease is up? Lay out what type of notice needs to be given, if a new roommate must be found first, how you’ll reimburse a security deposit and what portion of the rent will be required.
- Anything else you think is important. Roommate agreements aren’t just about the financial stuff. You can also include things like cleaning schedules, guest policies, food sharing and more. Nothing is too small to put down in writing.
Finally, take another major stressor out of your new living situation and consider letting the professionals help you with the hardest part: The move! Get in touch with your local Atlas agent today and let us know how we can help.