Finding the perfect roommate can be a time-consuming and overwhelming experience. It’s hard to know right away if the person will be a perfect match or a perfectly wrong match. You may decide to room with someone you already know, but great friends do not always make ideal roommates. You may also find yourself in the position of living with someone you don’t know at all. Much like dating, it may look like success on paper, but it really is about good chemistry. What may seem like a perfect fit may be anything but. You may not be able to know whether you and your roommate will have a relationship that’s smooth sailing, but here are a few tips that can help you avoid going on a voyage over rough waters.
When you find yourself looking for a roommate, you need to find out how compatible you are. How does one do this? By getting to know one another and asking questions. Sometimes it may not always be possible to meet face to face, however try to at least speak on the phone a few times. Where are they from? What brings them to Chicago? What do they do for a living? What are their interests, their hobbies? How do they feel about dirty dishes in the sink for two weeks?
It doesn’t have to be an awkward formal interview, but it really is the only way to get to know one another, and find out if you may be a good fit. You may discover have many things in common, or absolutely nothing in common. Asking for references from previous roommates and landlords is recommended, and will bring you peace of mind. You might also want to ask for proof of employment. The last thing you want to worry about is whether or not they can afford to pay rent. Finally, ask yourself questions. Do I like this person? Can I see myself living with this person? If you answered yes to both, you may be on the right track.
If you decide to live with a friend, then you can cross this one off the list. (If not, you may be in need of a new friend.) Trust is a big factor when deciding to live with someone. If you are living with a stranger, this may be slightly difficult. How can you trust someone without knowing them? This is where gut feelings and instincts come in. If you get an unpleasant vibe, or a feeling you just can’t put your finger on, you may want to keep searching. Once the lease is signed, it can be messy and difficult, not to mention costly when you try to break a lease. You also don’t want to be in a living situation where you fear for your valuables or security. Therefore, pay attention to your feelings, and do your best to connect via telephone or in person.
This is a big one. You may decide to live with your best friend or someone you barely know, but have good chemistry with. It may seem like you are in the clear, but not so fast! If you work at home, and your roommate works at home, you may be at each other’s necks faster than you can say “Roommate Wanted”. Being on the same schedule can make you feel suffocated and tense. Everyone needs alone time, and it is hard to do when you are on the same schedule. Being on opposite schedules may work for some ‘I have the best roommate- I hardly ever see them’, but not so well for others. If you are a light sleeper and an early bird, it may be tough to live with someone who is a night owl.
Having a roommate that understands the importance of respecting one’s space, things, and relationships is imperative. You wouldn’t want to live with someone who has no sense of personal space or boundaries. Living with someone who shows a blatant disregard for the things that matter to you is a big red flag. Bringing home a group of friends without checking in first when you want privacy or assuming that you will be okay with everything they do are things you want to watch out for.
This is vital from day one. You need to be upfront about what qualities you are seeking in roommate. Once you live together, you need to honest about what is and what is not working. Communication is essential. If you bottle up your frustrations and resentments because of the way your roommate is behaving, it will become harder and harder down the line to maintain a functional relationship. Dialogue is a two way street, so inquire about what they, too, expect from a roommate. Cohabiting is a personal thing, so be upfront about what you find bothersome. Having an open line of communication can and will make or break a living situation.