Thinking About Being a Roomie?

by Stephen Oakes - Date: 2006-12-11 - Word Count: 635 Share This!

Whether you are getting ready to live off campus for the first time or find yourself working in the big city, looking for an affordable way to get ahead in regards to your finances could potentially could potentially bring unnecessary headaches.

In my own experience during the college years I found myself ready to venture out and cut down on the expenses via on-campus living. I went in on a lease with two other guys. One was my best friend, easy going, and stepped up to plate in every sense of the phrase. The other was likable from the start, but turned out to be a nightmare to live with. This particular person was sloppy, did not take part in keeping the place clean and orderly, and often argued over his financial responsibilities. Living with other people can be exciting, but even one person can put a kink in the entire operation. Thankfully, I was eventually able to move out and enjoy a stress free living environment because my lease was signed for only one year.

Regardless of how you feel your situation to be different than mine, there are issues that will need to be addressed. My personal advice includes:

Take the time to find out about your roommate(s) in depth. Try not to include someone who is temperamental, sly, problematic, financial risky, unlikable, strongly opinionated, and/or has a dominating personality.

Sign a joint lease with all parties responsible for the monthly rent.

Establish in writing who will be responsible for paying/collecting rent, utilities, cleaning, cooking, dishes, etc. It might be a good idea to take some of the larger responsibilities and break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, cleaning could include dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, garbage, bathroom, etc.

Once the tasks has been assigned and agreed upon, you may want to establish a frequent schedule to ensure equal effort and upkeep.

Keep a financial spreadsheet of who is paying the shared bills. This way, if there is an imbalance in the numbers, a check can be made to compensate the person(s) paying up and beyond the average monthly cost.

Do your own grocery shopping. It may make sense for a social fraternity or sorority to shop in bulk because with the number of members it is likely to even out in the end. However, with only a few roommates, sooner or later someone will consume more than the other or dip into someone's favorite stash. Once you have purchased your food take out a big black marker and write your name on each and every item.

If you wish to look elsewhere for living arrangements it is good idea to inform your roommates as soon as possible, thus allowing ample time to find a replacement.

Recognize that a lease is legally binding and that you may be forced to live with someone for a year or more. In case things do not work out, sign the shortest lease possible, given there are no financial incentives to do so otherwise.

If you sense illegal activity of any sort, document it and notify your landlord of the situation immediately. The only person who will look out for you is YOU.

Many leases require an initial deposit that will be returned if there is no damage done to the apartment or complex. Make sure that you obtain your share of the deposit when the lease expires and notify the landlord that you will collect this money in person. My roommate tried to claim that I gave permission to allow the landlord to hand him the money instead of me. The only problem was that the landlord was prepared for excuse and had already given me the money beforehand.

Becoming a roomie can be a great experience, but you have to be aware and prepared for the worst.

Related Tags: roommate, living with others, roomate issues, live with best friend, living arrangement

Stephen Oakes

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