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How to Rent with Roommates

There’s so much to think about when you move rentals. You’re considering your budget, the neighborhood you want to live in, what the landlord is like, whether to look for a pet-friendly place and more. A big stressor on this list of worries can be finding and living with roommates. The good thing is, if you’re smart about it, renting with roommates can be extremely beneficial. That’s why we’ve created this complete guide to renting with roommates in order to help you out. 

Why Should You Rent with Roommates?

Let’s kick off by taking a look at the major reasons why renting with roommates is a good idea.

  • You’ll have a bigger budget: This is a big one. If you have roommates who are contributing to the rent, your budget will be larger than if you were renting alone. This opens up your options: you could live in a bigger rental, or one in a more central area than you could otherwise afford. Roommates will also help to cover the cost of utilities and other fees associated with your rental.
  • It’s a great chance to socialize: Your roommate could be someone you socialize regularly with, if you’d like. Maybe you’ll pick a roommate you were friends with before moving in. You might become friends with your roommate even if you weren’t before. In any case, it can be nice to have a buddy built into your rental situation. 
  • There will be a lighter chore load: Good roommates will divide chores up with you. This can make your day-to-day life considerably easier. If you can’t go grocery shopping, your roommate can pick up the slack. You can also switch off less pleasant tasks like cleaning the bathroom, so that you have to do it less than you would alone.  
  • You can furnish and decorate together: It can be tough to furnish and decorate an entire rental, especially on a budget. Your roommates can help with this by providing their own share of money, furniture, appliances, etc. With both of you pitching in, you’ll all have access to more resources than you would if you were renting alone.                                                                                                      

What Are The Biggest Concerns About Renting with Roommates?

For all of their good points, there are a number of concerns to keep in mind when renting with roommates. By considering how to navigate these early on in the process, you can save yourself a great deal of stress. We encourage you to think about drafting a roommate agreement to help get off on the right foot. These are things you’ll want to think about before you move in.

  • Budget: You and your roommates will have to work out how to split up rent. Maybe you’ll do it in equal portions or by percentage of income. Whatever you decide, you’ll want to make sure that you’re on the same page about it. You’ll also want to make sure that the roommates you choose will be able to pay rent on time.
  • Space: You and your roommates should also reach an agreement about how much space you’ll need, keeping your budget in mind. Will you want separate rooms? How much of a common area should there be? What style of rental do you want: a studio, a one-bedroom, a condo, or something else? These options will be limited not only by your budget, but also by the area you want to live in. It’s important to discuss that, too.
  • Noise: Noisy neighbors are hard enough to deal with, but the last thing you want is for all of that noise to be coming from inside your apartment with a loud roommate. It would also be annoying to have someone constantly telling you to quiet down if your roommate felt that you were being too noisy. You’ll want to be comfortable communicating with your roommates about the noise level.
  • Schedules: Trade daily schedules with your roommates before moving in so that you know what to expect. If you want a roommate who’s around when you’re home so you can socialize with them, take that into consideration. Or maybe you’d rather have a roommate on a completely different schedule than you; that way you have the apartment to yourself most of the time. Consider what you might like and keep it in mind during your roommate search. 
  • Cleaning: This can be a tough one, but you do want to make sure that your roommate is someone who’s on the same page about it. Your life will be much easier if you have a roommate who will pull their weight when it comes to cleaning. Think about your own cleaning habits. As you interview roommates, try to think about who might best be able to match them. This is another aspect of renting with roommates where you’ll want to be able to communicate well.
renting with roommates

How Do You Find Roommates?

So how do you go about finding the right roommate? There are a few different things you can try, and each have their own pros and cons.

  • Friends: You might be able to find a friend with whom you can rent. This can be a good idea because you already know and trust each other. It could be fun to live with someone who is already part of your social life. It might also make communication easier. However, there can be downsides to living with a friend. If something goes wrong in your roommate relationship, your friendship could suffer. You’ll also see all of your roommate’s living habits in a close and personal way. Maybe you don’t want to know how often your friend leaves dirty dishes out overnight.
  • Social media: You can leverage your network on social media in order to find a roommate. Lots of Facebook groups could serve this purpose; you could use an alumni group or a group for people in your area. You could also put a post out on your personal profiles asking if anyone is interested in renting with you. The downside of this approach is that you might not know the person you’re renting with very well. However, if the people who approach you on social media are part of your network, it’s likely they’re connected to a friend or family member. Your mutual connection can vouch for them (or warn you off!).
  • Roommate Website: If you’re willing to live with someone you don’t know at all, you could try sites such as Craigslist, Roomster, SpareRoom or Roommates.com. By casting a wide net on these sites, you’re likely to find a few options. The downside of using sites like these is that you probably won’t know any of your potential roommates. There’s a good chance that no one you know will know them, either. This means that you won’t know what they’re really like until you move in together. It might be harder to trust them or to communicate with them. 

What is a Roommate Agreement? How Can It Help You Rent with Roommates?

You and your roommates will likely discuss many aspects of living together, like paying rent, doing chores, and the noise level. However, it’s possible that you’ll forget the details of these conversations. Someone might interpret a rule or request differently than another person does. That’s why it can be helpful to put the conclusions of your conversations in a roommate agreement.

A roommate agreement is a contract that you and your roommates sign before moving in. Most of the time it is legally binding, but it can be informal. It details how you will live together in writing so that you can refer back to it if a conflict arises. You can include things like who pays what share of the rent, the division of chores between you, how you’ll share food, what your etiquette will be around guests, and what you’ll do if someone wants to move out early. This way, you and all the roommates you rent with can be certain of how to navigate day-to-day life. If you can’t remember what your agreement was concerning a particular aspect of living together, you can refer back to the contract. Hopefully, having such a clear set of rules will help to cut down on conflicts and disagreements.  

Have a Backup Plan in Case Things Go Wrong

Sometimes, the roommate you end up with just isn’t right for you. You’ve tried talking, you’ve tried compromise, and it just isn’t working out. You don’t want to live with your roommate anymore.

You want to prepare for this scenario before you move in with your roommate, whoever they may be. This is one reason why having a roommate agreement can be helpful, because you can come up with a backup plan in case one of you decides to leave early. It’s also worth considering what your other living options may be if your roommate situation falls through. Could you buy your roommate out of their portion of the lease? Could you temporarily move in with your parents, your best friend, or a significant other? Think about what you might do if all else fails. You just never know, and it’s best to be prepared.

We hope that this handy guide helps you to feel ready for renting with roommates. At their best, roommates can be helpful and fun to have around. As long as you’re careful and considerate, you and your roommates will be just fine. Happy renting!

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