While it’s conceivable that some people will go from living with their parents to living alone to living with a significant other (or some variation involving one or more of the above), chances are if you’re like most people you’ll end up having to do the roommate thing for a while. This can be fun, and it can also be unpredictable. Moving in with someone might be the start of a lifelong friendship, or it can be the part of the story you’ll be forever telling right before the part where things get ugly. One thing’s for sure: it’s nice (and often necessary) to have someone to split the bills with, so we’re offering up some tips on how to pick someone you’ll be able to survive at least the terms of a 12-month lease with.
If you already know the person…
… do you really, though? Sure, if you’ve got a friend you get along well with and you’re both looking for a roommate, you should definitely consider it. But do be honest with yourself about how well you know the person, their living habits, the hours they keep, etc. Ask questions that will help determine your compatibility in these areas.
Make sure you’ve scoped out their current place. If you’re a neat freak and need to live with another neat freak, no amount of preparation they scramble to do before you come over will hide the truth from your dirt-seeking hawk eyes. If you’re pretty laid back about that stuff, well, at make sure the place isn’t a total dump. This is another good time to talk with your mutual friends. This person may have always seemed pretty cool to you, but once you start pulling the thread of one person’s bad experience with them, you might end up unraveling the whole sweater. And not wanting to live with it.
If you’re vetting a random…
There’s no fool proof way to go from total strangers to cohabitation. There’s always a gamble there, and it’s clearly bigger than the one you’re taking by rooming up with an acquaintance. That said, sometimes it’s just necessary, and as someone who’s had it work out pretty well on three separate occasions, I think your concerns should be less about getting axe-murdered and more about, “Is this person likely to person pay bills and not start a meth lab?”
Do some Google/Social Media stalking to start. This is totally acceptable — smart even, so don’t feel like a creeper. Use the circuit court records that are available online. See if you’ve got any mutual friends at all (Facebook is your friend here) and ask questions. Find out where they work and how long they’ve been there. If they don’t exist online at all — in this day and age — that may be its own red flag. It might not be, but again you’re definitely upping the extent to which you’re taking a chance.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to listen to your gut a little bit. Does the person give you pause for any reason? Don’t live with them. If they check out online and you get the overall feeling that they’re sane and stable and like you in the sense that they’re in a pinch and in need of a person to divide household expenses with for a length of time — it’s probably going to be okay.