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Finding the Perfect Roommate

Updated on April 13, 2015

There are three kinds of roommates. Those that you can't stand and cause you to spend your every waking hour plotting their demise, those that are just OK, not hot, not cold but they pay the rent and those that have become friends for life and THEY PAY THE RENT! Needless to say, you want the latter. But how does one go about acquiring the perfect roommate? After all, most of the time you might talk to someone on the phone for a few minutes, meet them in person for maybe a half an hour and you're supposed to sum them up, share your dwelling and trust them with your worldly goods on that? It's not easy but it's possible and I'm going to tell you how.

The first thing you do when you are looking for a roommate is to put your absolute "must haves" in the ad. Are you a non-smoker and can't stand cigarette smoke? Then put that in the ad. Are you female and are diametrically opposed to living with males, put it in the ad. Must the potential roommate be employed? Put it in the ad. Is the room furnished and if so do you want to even consider having to move the furniture for a roommate, if not put it in the ad. You might as well weed out the potential housemates with your "must have" list right off the bat. However, just because you put that in the ad don't assume that they have read it or if desperate enough will lie about it, when they call, go over your "must haves" and make sure that they fit the criteria. After you have put the ad in the paper, the phone calls will begin. When they call, LET THEM TALK. Ask them questions and let them talk. Usually, if someone has skeletons they will come out in conversation. There are a few key questions that you should ask them. One is "Tell me a little about yourself". This opens the box wide for them to let you know what makes them tick. The second question is very simple and yet you'd be surprised at the responses I have received and that is "Are you a good person"? I have actually had relatives ask me "What is your definition of good?", needless to say that person did NOT become a roommate. Finally, ask them what they do in their down time. Do you want to live with someone who is a partier or someone who entertains every weekend in your apartment or home or with someone's boyfriend? Find out what they will be doing when you are there with them. If you want someone that doesn't hang around the house all the time make sure they have hobbies like camping, tennis, fishing, biking, anything that is outside. If you don't want a mess in the kitchen every night make sure they aren't chefs.

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Moreover, after they have passed the phone conversation test and you meet them, make sure to keep asking them about themselves, ask them why they are moving? Is it because they had problems at their last place? Are they new to town and how long will they be staying? What do they look like? Will it be a shared bathroom and what is their schedule? Are they high maintenance or will they be in and out of the bathroom in 10 minutes?

Whoever you decide upon make sure to collect a reasonable deposit and have them sign a rental agreement even if you just typed it up yourself. In the agreement state that they must give you 30 days notice to vacate or they will lose their deposit and that the room or apartment must be in the same condition when vacated as when they arrived (except for minor wear and tear). The deposit could be one months rent.

Finally, always, always, always check at least three references. When I started out I never checked references until I was burned big time. Since then, you could be President Obama and I would ask for references. Anyone can make up a story and if someone is really good they can usually get one or two people to lie for them as references but it's been my experience that it's pretty difficult to get three people to lie for you, so always check references. If they don't have three good references then let them go because most people should be able to come up with three people in their whole lives that will vouch for them. They don't have to all be the same kind, take references from employers, friends and/or family.

I owned and ran a boarding house for over ten years and lived with more than 70 people during that time. Those years were some of the best in my life partially because I had wonderful people come and stay with me. If you take these precautions you should have a good experience as well as make some extra money to pay your rent or mortgage. Good Luck


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