March 17, 2010
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- Do your research. There are tons of avenues you can take. The easiest option is your campus housing department. The people there may know of former dormers looking to move off campus or have a list of students who already have a place but are looking for roommates. If you’re already living off-campus, you don’t have to limit yourself to fellow students. Sites like these can give you a large pool of people to choose from:
Whatever you do, be thorough. If you have other roommates, take the time to sit down together and come up with a set of questions to ask each potential new roommate. After you’ve interviewed all the candidates, sit down together again to review whom you liked best and why.
- Don’t settle. Decide what matters to you, and then keep looking until you find it. Don’t compromise, or you’ll be sorry you did. Write out what character qualities are important to you: What are your personality requirements? What kinds of quirks are deal-killers? If you have other roommates, this part is even more crucial; make sure everyone has a chance to add their must-haves and no-ways to the list.
And always wait at least one full day after meeting someone for the first time before making your final decision, even if the choice seems totally obvious. When you’re in a hurry to find someone to split that rent payment, you might overlook danger signs that come back to haunt you later. Sleep on it, and see if you’re still as enthusiastic the next day; things have a way of looking different in the morning.
- Check references. Some people are great at first impressions but short on follow-through. Always ask for references—landlords and employers are usually better bets than friends and particularly family, who are usually genetically obligated to say that your roomie candidate is the bestest person in the world. Take the time to talk to them, and make sure your potential new roommate isn’t a felon with a history of anger problems or a deadbeat who’s convinced that rent is optional.
- Discuss the rules. Once you’ve decided on a roommate, before either of you put your pens to that rental agreement, sit down and talk about expectations and responsibilities. Make sure you can agree on:
- who’s paying what and when
- what, if any, study hours (or quiet time) are to be observed
- acceptable practices for visitors (especially those of the extended-stay variety)
- bathroom hours
- cleaning duties (including both personal and common areas)
- Live happily ever after. The truth is most living arrangements grow old, even if you’re all pretty darn compatible, mature and responsible. No matter how great it’s been with your current perfect roomie, if you guys are on each other’s last nerve because the honeymoon’s over and it’s time to move on, do it. That way, you guys may still be speaking in another year. And if you keep these five points in mind as you start your new search, you may just find perfect roomie number two.
February 21, 2010