We all know the perks of having a roommate – lower rent, someone to talk to, maybe a new friend – but the tricky part is finding the right person. Well, there is no perfect formula. But here's what we've learned over the years; hopefully it can get you headed in the right direction.
Friends. Obviously, most people turn to their immediate friends first. This can be a good idea, but we've heard horror stories. Just be willing to forsake the friendship if things go wrong (or be sure you know the person enough to avoid major surprises). On the other hand choosing to live with a friend is sort of like a built-in character reference, which is pretty valuable. Still, be open to meeting someone new or maybe someone a little different.
Know Yourself. Before you can find the right roommate, you have to identify who the right person is. And that means asking yourself what kind of person you are. It's not too complicated; things like sleep schedule, social habits and tidiness are major. Decide what genders and lifestyles you would be ok living with. And make sure saving money isn't the only reason for having a roommate. You will be sharing your home. That's a big commitment.
Roommate Matching. Many apartment communities in Gainesville offer roommate matching as a free service. Typically, this is found in the larger, rent by the bedroom communities. The key to making the "match" work for you is being honest. If your parents are looking over your shoulder, it's probably not a good time to fill out a roommate matching questionnaire. Are you really a non-smoking, quiet, early to bed, studying 25 hrs per day type of person? If you have a vice, put it on the form… it will save some major headaches later! Unlike traditional roommate matching services, RoomSync lets you choose your own roommates online using Facebook.
Roommate Matching on Your Own. If you want to live in a more traditional apartment community or house, you're more likely on your own when it comes to finding a roommate. Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, the alligator's classifieds, or even old fashioned flyers on a bulletin board are great ways to advertise for roommates. If your club or organization has a listserv, post a message on that. At least you know you'll have something in common.
Learn. Find out as much as you can about the candidate(s). Facebook friend them, try to meet in person if possible. Ask about their lifestyle. Do they have a boy/girl-friend? What are their vices? Do they smoke, drink, stay out late? Do they like to make lots of noise in the apartment at 4am? Or do they study 24/7, keep an immaculate house, and have an alarm clock that blares at 7am?
Leasing by the Apartment. If you are sharing the responsibility for rent & utilities, we recommend that you take your background research to a whole new level. At this point, you're more than just roommates; you're business partners… everyone in the apartment will be on the hook for everyone else. The best approach – even though it might seem awkward or over-cautious – is to treat it as if they were applying for a job. Make a quick form for them to fill out, with proof of employment and references. Run a credit check. And type their name into the county clerk of court's on-line database. It sounds crazy, but you'll thank us if you find any unpleasant surprises. If they don't want to provide the info you need, think twice. Good roommate candidates won't be offended – you're showing them that you, too, are responsible and committed to finding a good match.
Details. Before you settle on a roommate, hash out the gory details: who pays what, who stays where, what you're willing to share. Then, put it in writing or in an email so that you can go back to it later. A verbal agreement that falls through on the last day is not what you're looking for.
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