Choosing whether you should rent with roommates is a difficult decision. Not only do you face the stress of locating a trustworthy colocataire. You also have to be honest with yourself about your lifestyle preferences.
In this guide, we’re examining the aspects that accompany living with a roommate. Choosing to live with a roommate is a matter of preference and you need to be clear with your expectations of one another. Setting these clear boundaries from the start is perhaps the most important component of a healthy relationship with your roommate.
At Pangea Real Estate, we believe you should feel comfortable with your living choices. We’ve been providing our tenants with the resources they need for affordable apartments since 2008. Part of our mission is to connect the communities we serve.That’s why we want to inform you about renting with a roommate. Continue reading to learn more.
The Pros and Cons of Roommates
First, let’s start with the pros of renting with a roommate.
The most obvious reason to rent with a roommate is financial. When you have a roommate contributing to your rent, you essentially double your budget. Because of your increased budget, you will be able to live in a larger rental or live in a more popular area. Roommates will also cover the utilities and other expenses.
One of the advantages of having a roommate is that you won’t have to spend all your time at home alone. Whether you pick a roommate you already know or you meet someone new, having a roommate keeps you socializing instead of solitary.
You will be able to split your chores if you have a roommate. Having a roommate to share the load can free up time for other activities. If you can’t go grocery shopping on a Tuesday but you have a roommate, you can ask them to pick you up some groceries to save you hassle.
Furnish and Decorate Together
Furnishing and decorating your apartment can be difficult. It’s even more difficult when you have to do it on a limited budget, alone. Roommates can provide you with furnishings of their own while splitting the costs of new decorations. Combining these resources can also reduce stress.
Any time you add money to the friendship equation, things can get complicated. If you choose to have a roommate, you will have to split up the rent in a way both of you can agree upon. Regardless of how you choose to split rent and utilities, any time you have a roommate, you have to work out financial logistics.
When you choose to have a roommate, you will be able to get a larger apartment in a nicer area, but you won’t be able to have as much of your own space. You will have to work out the ground rules for the common space as well as the rules for the house. When you don’t have a roommate, you can choose the house rules. Whatever you see fit, goes. That’s not the case when you have a roommate.
When you have a roommate, they will likely have social gatherings and habits that make noise. Deciding when each of you can do such things will require open conversations and compromise. You need to examine each of your lifestyles to determine if it’s the right fit.
You should trade schedules with your roommate before deciding if they’re the right fit. If you have a lifestyle that lends itself to a more social roommate, you should ensure they mesh with your preferences. If you have a more quiet lifestyle, you shouldn’t choose a roommate with louder habits.
Sharing the chores is only a benefit of having a roommate if they fulfill the responsibilities they agreed to. If your roommate doesn’t care about leaving the sink area unkempt, your relationship might become strained. When you interview prospective roommates, you should ask them questions about their cleaning habits.
How Do You Find a Roommate?
There are a few methods that allow you to locate a roommate. Which one you use will depend on your roommate preferences.
Friends: friends are the easiest roommates to locate. You also might already trust the person with whom you live. However, having a friend as a roommate can complicate the relationship. There are benefits to living with a friend roommate, such as the increased simplicity of communication but things can get ugly and you might lose a friend.
Social Media: networking on the internet is a great way to locate your next roommate. There are plenty of Facebook groups who target people looking for roommates. You can also create a post to target other people looking for roommates.
Roommate Websites: If you’re willing to live with someone who you don’t know, you can try roommate websites, such as Craigslist, Roommates.com, or Roomster. With these sites, you are more likely to find someone who isn’t in your social circle.
This has positive and negative implications. You won’t have to risk an existing relationship or your reputation, but you risk choosing someone who doesn’t fit your lifestyle (or who simply isn’t a good roommate). It might also be more difficult to trust your roommate if you find them on a roommate website.
What Should You Look for In a Roommate?
Choosing a roommate with similar sleeping habits to yours is critical. If your roommate has unusually early or late sleeping habits, it can lead to problems. Even if you have minimally different sleep schedules, it can still be a challenge. You might have to wake up at 7 AM while your roommate doesn’t have to get up until 9 AM. That will change the dynamic of your morning. Perhaps they won’t want you to use the coffee maker that early. Perhaps they will want to play music or video games in their room later into the evening. Whatever the time difference, you will have to communicate with them and establish ground rules so it doesn’t lead to conflict.
Identify your roommates financial situation before you live with them. They don’t need to be rolling in the mooh-lah, but it’s wise to choose someone with a dependable stream of income so you don’t get left with the check. Part of a healthy roommate relationship comes from each paying their own respective share. You should also work out how you want to divide the utilities. Discuss who’s in charge of paying the bill and be candid about your financial situations to avoid any miscommunications. Like it or not, financial disagreements have ruined many relationships and you don’t need that dysfunction in your daily life.
It’s nice to have a roommate whom you care about. However, you need to set boundaries with them to ensure you retain your independence. It’s like any other relationship; you should both have other friends outside of each other and you shouldn’t depend on your roommate for everything. If you also work together, you should be especially cognizant of finding other friends. But even if you don’t, living with someone implies you spend a lot of time with them. You don’t want them to take over your life. Try to avoid a roommate who has tendencies towards clinginess.
Relationships live and die based on communication. You should be able to openly talk to your roommate about things, especially those involving the apartment. You both should be able to openly communicate about how your lifestyle affects the living situation. If your roommate does something you don’t care for, you should be able to let them know with confidence.
You should also be willing to compromise on certain aspects of your lifestyle if your roommate has a problem. Living together should be a symbiotic experience and communication is the easiest way to establish that. Communicate about visitors, financial obligations, stances on visitors, pets, smoking, and other important issues. Establishing clear guidelines upfront will help you in the long run.
Roommates should be comfortable with how each other shares. However, no one is required to let you use their things and if you prefer a roommate who is comfortable sharing with you, you should establish this dynamic upfront. The last thing you need is someone yelling at you about how you used a cup of their milk for your morning coffee. Your roommate’s sharing policy should also affect how you split various living costs, such as paper towels and cleaning materials for the common areas.
This topic is an important one. If you and your roommate aren’t on the same page regarding cleaning principles, there is bound to be some conflict. You might not be able to stand dirty dishes in the sink. They might not be able to stand socks on the floor. Again, communication is key here. If you both understand what frustrates the other person, you can try to avoid those things to get along better. If you don’t understand these things, it can quickly lead to tension. As with everything else on this list, you need to establish clear communication so you can identify what is most important to your roommate.
What Questions Should I Ask My Roommate?
What’s your schedule like?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
What types of cleaning habits do you have?
Is there anything specific regarding cleanliness I should know about you?
What types of hobbies do you have?
Do you have any furniture or decorations you would like to use for the apartment?
How do you feel about guests in the apartment?
Do you eat out or cook more often?
What is your stance on pets?
Splitting Rent with a Roommate
There are a few different ways you can divide the rent responsibilities with your roommate. You can split rent by the size of your bedroom, add amenities to the total, split by income, split evenly, or split by responsibilities. Below, we detail each method and how they can affect the relationship.
Bedrooms vary in their size and which one you choose might affect how much rent you pay. If you take the larger of the two rooms with more amenities, it’s understandable why you would have to pay more than your roommate. Square footage is only one component of how much space you use compared to your roommate. You might also use the office more than them. These types of factors can also play into whether you split your rent by the apartment room size.
If you want to live with someone but your income is disparate, you might be able to establish an agreement wherein one pays more than the other based on how much you earn. This type of rent split typically only makes sense for friends or family members and you should be certain the agreement won’t wind up negatively affecting the relationship. Understand your roommate’s background before you choose this method.
This is perhaps the most straightforward of all rent split methods. Having everyone in the area pay an equal share is best when there is little to no disparity between the sizes of the room. But before you decide on this method, you should be clear on the reasons why each roommate will pay equal shares. If everyone is okay with the arrangement, proceed.
Some bedrooms might have additional amenities, such as a larger bathroom. You might have a bedroom on the second floor while your roommate has a bedroom right next to the heater in the basement. These types of factors should play into the overall rent decision.
If you pay all the utilities, your rent should potentially be reduced. Splitting the rent by responsibilities means the bills for the apartment get split up equally and everyone understands their obligations.
Tips for Splitting Rent
Finances can be a tricky conversation to have with your roommate. Below, we provide a few tools for splitting rent that can simplify your experience renting with one.
Rent Split Calculators
Rent split calculators are always handy to clearly display the amount each roommate is responsible for paying. You won’t need to rely on fickle memories and fading discussions. Calculate the rent together. Having these discussions together helps you avoid any potential conflict that may arise.
Roommate agreements are documents that clearly outline the agreement you and your roommate decide upon. Examples of the details these documents contain include: who gets which bedroom, how much each roommate is responsible for paying, and contingency plans for one of the roommates entering dire financial straits.
What Should You Do If Your Roommate Won’t Split Rent?
There is no set-in-stone answer to this question and you can decide to split rent with your roommate whatever way you deem fit. If you want to pay for their portion of the rent, it’s your business.
However, it’s important to note that when you have a roommate, you both are responsible for the rent. This means that if one of you breaks the lease, you both will be held equally responsible for the rent and the landlord can seek the full amount from either of you. This is known as joint and several liability.
What If One Roommate Violates the Lease or Rental Agreement?
As previously stated, a landlord can issue a clause stipulating joint and several liability for the rent. This is similar for any negative actions carried out on the premise. The landlord can terminate both tenants if one commits damage to the property. Landlords might not operate this way and can potentially only evict one roommate in the event they damage property. For example, your roommate might punch a hole in the wall. Since you’re an upstanding tenant, the landlord only evicts your roommate. However, they could also evict both of you.
How to Exit a Lease with a Roommate
There are plenty of ways to diffuse a situation with a roommate should you need to cease your living arrangement.
Review Your Lease
The first step you should take is to review your lease agreement. Having a discussion with them will help you determine whether you can break the lease without penalty. Since most leases feature joint and several liability clauses, both renters are often left liable for rent throughout the entire lease term.
If your lease doesn’t have any restrictions against subletting your room, this is a viable option. However, you will need the property owner’s approval before doing so. They might still hold you responsible for the lease term.
Decide Who Must Move Out
There are no precise rules when it comes to deciding who has to stay and who must leave the apartment. Deciding who must leave in case you come to a point of no return is entirely up to the two of you.
Exceptions exist. For example, if you have a rent-controlled lease that lists a master renter. If this designation exists, you might be able to remove other renters from your unit and recruit others.
Consider If You’re On a Month-to-Month Lease
Month-to-month lease agreements give you a clearer path to roommate freedom. If you are on a month-to-month lease, make sure the entire rent gets paid. Even if you’re the person on the lease who leaves, ensure the full amount gets paid. If you are on a joint and several liability lease and you fail to pay the rent in its full amount, you will be held liable.
Consider Whether You’re Leaving an Extended Lease Agreement
If you are in an extended lease agreement, you will need to work out how you and your roommate plan to pay the remaining balance on the lease. Breaking a lease can have a negative impact on your credit score and make it difficult to get approved for apartments in the future. You might also be required to make rent payments until your lease agreement ends.
Consider Having Everyone Leave the Lease
Whether this option is feasible depends on the type of lease you choose. Month-to-month leases typically require the renter to issue ample notice to the landlord. If you can do so, this simplifies matters and you can both go your separate ways after the required notice time.
Standard leases might require longer notice durations and can have penalties for breaking the lease. Typically, your only way out of these types of lease agreements is to find other renters of whom your property owner approves.
Notify the Property Owner
If you decide to break a lease with your roommate, you must notify your landlord or property manager in writing. Doing so documents the action and gives them notice they must find a new renter. You can also include your name, address, and the date you plan to move out in the letter.
Remember, your future property owners will likely look at your renter history, so it’s wise to try to maintain cordial relationships with your landlords. Always communicate and try to achieve an amicable solution if possible.
Tips for a Healthy Roommate Relationship
Choose Your Roommate with Care
The best way to avoid conflict is choosing a roommate who you get along with naturally. In these cases, it’s easiest to locate a trustworthy roommate based on your prior friendship with them. If you choose a roommate who you don’t know, you might abhor them, the easiest way to have an unhealthy relationship.
Clearly Identify Your Rules
Rules and boundaries are the foundation of any good relationship. You might feel uncomfortable about setting these rules upfront. But regardless, your living situation will bring scenarios to light and introduce potential conflict. Identifying your ground rules prior is the easiest way to avoid conflict with a roommate.
Establish Respect for Each Other’s Space
Whether you have three or five common areas in your rental, you need to be considerate of your roommate and how they use the space. Respect items that aren’t yours and keep the common area in good condition. This should go both ways. If you live with a roommate who trashes the common area and disrespects your living space, you should re-evaluate your decision. Avoid using items that don’t belong to you and set clear boundaries with your roommate.
To create an enjoyable environment, dispose of items you don’t often use. You should also consider how much space you have before bringing new things into your home. Doing so helps you better evaluate how new items transform your space. If you feel congested in your living space, chances are, your roommate does too. Clear out superfluous items to create a sense of calm in your living space.
Hack Your Living Space
You can get creative with how you maximize your space. Doing so goes a long way when you’re living with others. Consider hacks that maximize your living area by migrating things to the wall. There are plenty of storage hacks on the internet to expand your living area without having to modify its physical dimensions.
Realize the Purpose of the Room
Every room has its own purpose. While some prefer to use a certain room as a work area, others will want to use it as a leisure area. Try to come to agreements about this before choosing your place or signing a lease. If you find yourself in discord with your roommate about how to use a certain room, try to come to a compromise.
Organize Your Belongings
Though you can’t control what your roommate does, as long as you have your personal belongings in order, everything should be fine. Pay attention to where you leave your items and communicate with your roommate about those areas. Clearly designating areas as yours establishes boundaries with your roommate and lets them distinguish their areas as well.
Find a Way to Get Out of the Shared Space
Everyone needs their alone time. Without it, tensions might flare and you may even start to resent your roommate. This goes both ways. The best way to avoid this resentment is to establish a space where you can relax by yourself. This can be anywhere, though preferably away from where you live. Whether you go to a park or the library, the purpose is clear: to distance yourself and avoid contempt stemming from familiarity.
Bottom Line- The Complete Guide to Renting with a Roommate
Communication is perhaps the most important aspect you can have if you’re renting with a roommate. Be honest with yourself about your living preferences and whether living with a roommate is the right situation. You should also consider how you find your roommate. You don’t want to ruin a solid friendship over a living arrangement.
At Pangea Real Estate, we strive to make our tenants feel comfortable throughout the rental process. Deciding whether a roommate is right for you is part of that process and we can offer guidance. Search our apartments in the Baltimore, Chicago, and Indianapolis areas to find your ideal situation.
At Pangea, we show you the easy way to rent. Contact us today to find your new apartment.