One option available to many renters and newcomers to cities is the dreaded roomshare. I know it’s dreaded both because I’ve had many roommates during my time, and because I am now on the prowl on Craig’s List for the perfect roomshare situation.
The advantages are clear: renters who can’t afford or who choose not to pay for a rental of their own can share costs get cable for cheap, and enjoy the benefits of a nicer house (possibly with a hot tub). The disadvantages become glaringly obvious once you start looking for the perfect roomshare situation. Many of the houses don’t look exactly like they are billed on Craig’s List—I still can’t get the image of one house that looked like a war zone out of my mind—and other houses seem perfect until you consider who you would actually be living with. Sometimes, both the house and the potential roommates are clearly not a fit.
Other times, you get lucky. Before going to meet a potential roommate for a roomshare situation, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. If possible, ask some questions before you get there, so you don’t waste your time.
1. Who is living there now? How old are the roommates? Do the roommates interact much?
2. Are the roommates clean?
3. How are utilities and extra costs divided? How much does everything total per month?
4. Are there separate spaces to keep your food?
5. What is the size of the bedroom? Will you have your own bathroom?
6. What is the parking situation like in the neighborhood?
7. Will you have to sign a lease?
8. Why did the previous roommate leave?
At the same time you are interviewing your potential roommates when you visit their home, they are interviewing you, so remember to put your best foot forward. Let them know that you will respect any common areas and try to adhere to their (maybe unspoken) rules about the kitchen, the laundry facilities, and any other common facilities and areas.
Keep in touch with the people you make contact with if you are at all interested in living with them. Don’t be afraid to follow up and try to see the place again before you agree to move in if the other party is interested; you have a right to make a good decision about where you want to live and who you want to live with.