Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I cannot afford to rent an apartment on my own, but see plenty of ads for roommates. My parents think I am crazy to move out and have a roommate, but I want to be on my own.
Am I nuts?
Dear Am I nuts,
You sound ready to take the first step in becoming independent and living on your own. But, you have to be sure that you will have enough cash flow to pay the rent, utilities, food, and other amenities such as a car and entertainment. Renting often means signing a lease for three months or longer. Having a steady job is important or you may not qualify as a renter.
In addition, before signing the lease, have a checklist of compatibility topics to go over with your new potential roommate. Once you sign the lease, you and your roommate are stuck with each other until the lease ends.
Communication and compromise are very important. Always discuss any issues before they arise, or if they occur, then discuss immediately before it gets out of hand.
ROOMATE COMPATIBILITY CHECKLIST
1. Smoking. If you do not smoke, you will not want a smoking roommate. In addition, set up the ground rules for visitors smoking in the apartment.
2. Drugs. Make it clear that no drugs are allowed. Even if you do not partake, having drugs in the apartment can get you in trouble, too.
3. Alcohol. You should think twice before having a roommate who drinks heavily or has had a DUI (driving under the influence).
4. Music. If you are a student who needs to study, music volume is important to discuss. Earplugs are another option.
5. Pets. If you are allergic to cats, you will not want a roommate who has a cat.
6. Hygiene. You may want to reconsider a roommate who is overly messy.
7. Sleep/Work Habits. Similar sleep and work schedules would be more harmonious.
8. Ideology. Do you have similar ideologies? If not, will you respect each others differences or clash over issues such as politics and religion?
9. Overnight guests. Agree on a policy about overnight guests.
10. Sharing. Come to an understanding about what can be shared such as a TV, computer, CD player, microwave, couches and chairs. Respect each others belongings, and always ask before borrowing anything.
11. Living Room. Decide how to share the living room space, especially when you have visitors.
12. Bathroom clean up. Discuss whether each person should clean up after themselves and who replaces the toilet paper.
13. Kitchen responsibilities. Establish kitchen duties to either share or not, such as cooking, cleaning and taking out the trash.
14. Garage or parking space. If there is only one space for a car, then the one who does not get the space should get a break on part of the rent.
15. Rent and Utilities Payment. Discuss how much and when payments are due, and always get receipts.