What Everybody Should Know About Living with Roommates

Housing is the largest expense in most budgets. More than any other bill, it can keep you from accomplishing other important financial goals.

How about reducing your housing expenses by getting a roommate or moving in with your parents? It doesn’t have to be permanent.

Cutting your housing costs in half for a year or two can help you pay off student loans or build up the ideal emergency fund.

I’ve had several roommates over the years and, for more the most part, gotten along with all of them.

Here are some things I’ve learned through my experience.

How to Get Along with Roommates

Roommate disputes are normal, even when your housemate is a best friend, significant other, or parent.

Packing your bags and bailing on your roommate for solo living may seem easier, but sticking it out can pay off in the long run. Not to mention you may not be ready for such an abrupt cost of living increase.

Choose your battles. Engaging in a verbal showdown with someone you live with is rarely worth it.

Which is easier? Bitchin’ to your roommate about how she never empties the dryer, and then subsequently throwing down in a Mob Wives-esque fist fight or taking thirty seconds to unload the machine and enjoying the rest of your day black eye and bloodied nose-free?

Do your part. Don’t parade around common areas in your underwear. Smoke outside. Wear headphones. Use your inside voice. Don’t devour your roommate’s snacks. Tidy up after yourself. Communicate, respectfully, about issues. In other words, behave like the roommate you want to have.

Set ground rules for visitors. For example, some women don’t know when to tell their boyfriends to go home. Insist that your roomie’s beau sleepover no more than twice a week – and make sure you adhere to the same standards. Boyfriends should rarely, if ever, shower on the premises. He shouldn’t linger behind when your roommate leaves or receive packages at your address or do his laundry in your home. The same thing goes with friends and relatives.

Be honest about who you are. Don’t claim you’re a neat freak when you’re perfectly content lying in a bed that’s 60% covered in sand and crumpled potato chips. If you’re an early riser or late sleeper, let your roommate know so that she can keep quiet while you slumber.

Finding a Good Roommate

Before you take on the legal responsibility of sharing rent (e.g. signing a lease together), verify that your roommate is willing and able to pay their share of the rent on time. Here are a few ways:

You can perform a credit check and background check on a roommate for $25 using TransUnion SmartMove.

And definitely make sure you’re not signing up to live with a sex offender. The National Sex Offender Registry is free.

You can do a free credit screening on a prospective roomie by having them create an account with Credit Karma. You won’t see the actual credit report, but you will get a glimpse of a free credit summary and score from TransUnion.

Scope out social networks. It irks me when employers judge job applicants based on their personal online activities, but if you want to weed out creepers, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the way to go. You’ll quickly learn whether your next roommate is the type of character who slurps tequila from a sweaty stranger’s, lint filled navel.

Keep in mind that the more information you ask for, the harder it’ll be to find a good roommate. Not necessarily because people are sketchy, but because they don’t want to be hassled. So only ask for what you need to ensure they’ll pay rent on time and mesh with your living habits.

How have you dealt with difficult roommates?

About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.