Roommates II – Before You Roommate
In our last blog post, we explored the pros and cons of sharing an apartment with a roommate and you’ve decided a roommate is right for you. Congratulations! Now, how can you ensure that you and your roomie will see eye-to-eye on life in the same space and prevent misunderstandings and conflicts during your time together (‘cause ain’t nobody got time for that)?
Here are some topics you and your roommate should discuss before you sign that lease agreement.
How will you split the rent? Will you share 50/50 or will one of you pay more for a larger bedroom/better view/attached bath? Click here to explore these and other considerations.
Are you both going to pay the property owner separately (is that even permitted by your landlord or management company), or will one person pay and reimburse the other each month? If so, will you issue a receipt for payment?
Some apartments may include a few utilities in the rent, such as trash removal, but for many, you and your roommate will be paying for utilities like electric, gas, water/sewer, cable, internet service, premium TV channels like Hulu and Netflix. You may wish to share some expenses and keep some separate. Here are some useful guidelines along with available apps to keep everything organized.
It may seem unimportant now, but talk about your preference in apartment temperature. One of you, like my brother-in-law, may like their space to be like a freezer box, while the other prefers not to have to layer up in the summer. And, are you willing to pay more to keep the apartment uber cool or toasty warm? My current housemate likes much cooler temps than I do, so I keep pretty throws in the living room and on my bed.
Review your daily schedules – when you work (especially important if you work remotely), when you like to get up, and your target bedtime. My dad was a very early riser and hated to be alone, so he expected the entire family to get up with him…at 5:00AM. A roommate sleeping in is no big deal unless they require absolute quiet. Earplugs can be a game-changer as can a sleep mask.
When do you each prefer shower time? If there’s just one bath in the apartment, you’ll need to plan not only when you shower but for how long.
When and how will you eat dinner? Will you share cooking and clean up responsibilities or will your schedules or meal preferences mean you’ll each be doing your own meal prep and clean up? My daughter’s roommate is a vegan chef with food allergies. While these two often dine together, her roommate’s cookware cannot come into contact with foods that make her sick. Fortunately, the two of them made a plan to keep their own cookware in designated cabinets, and dine together only when they eat foods they both can enjoy. Another roommate-from-hell person lived with them for a short time and was a constant source of frustration because she ate food she did not purchase, used dishware and cookware that was not hers, and never cleaned up after herself.
Consider how you will divvy up refrigerator space as well. You do not want to come home with $50 worth of groceries only to discover your roommate has not left an inch of space in the fridge or freezer open.
Decide in advance when guests may visit your apartment, if there should be a limit on the number of guests, if you prefer advance notice of any guests coming to visit, and if you are okay with overnight guests. What will you both do if one roommate becomes involved in a serious relationship and wants that significant other to move in? Will the SO share in the expenses and household chores?
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What about your roommate? While introverts and extroverts can certainly live together in harmony, you’ll need to come to an agreement about shared activities, social time, and quiet time.
If neither of you has a pet, your lease permits them, will you both be amenable to adding a furry friend to the household? If yes, be sure to discuss what happens when the pet owner can’t be home to feed or walk the dog, who cleans up any messes, and what happens if Rover chews up the belongings of the person who is not the pet owner?
Decide in advance what will and won’t be shared and how to share what must be shared. For example, sharing grooming supplies may be among the things you absolutely do not wish to share, but you may be willing to share clothing if requested in advance, whereas sharing the remote may not be a big deal at all. Sharing plans can address:
- Household Supplies
- Personal Property
- Kitchen Items
How will you divvy up cleaning responsibilities? You each can be responsible for your own bedroom and laundry, take turns cleaning the living room and bathroom, and clean the kitchen together. Talk frankly about your personal preferences as a clean freak living with a slob can create a lot of friction.
Courtesy and respect will go a long way in creating a pleasant home environment. Topics to consider include:
- Smoking – will smoking (of any kind) be permitted indoors?
- Alcohol – will there be limits on consumption?
- Copies of keys – will you share copies of keys with friends and family members?
- Parking – if limited designated parking is available with the apartment, how will you determined who gets the reserved space?
- Parties – are spontaneous parties permissible or will you need to plan party time in advance?
- Privacy – what spaces in the apartment are off limits to your roommate? Do you both want to share what goes on in your personal life or not?
Once you and your roommate become like minded about this myriad of living together topics, consider a formal Roommate Agreement so you have everything in writing – just in case things head south at any point. To get you started, ApartmentGuide.com has created a Roommate Agreement Template. Your agreement should also include language on what will happen if one of you needs to break the lease, and how you will handle any conflicts which may arise.
Now, go get yourself some boxes, pack up your stuff, and get ready to embark on a new adventure of living with a roommate.