Having roommates has now advanced from being a pleasantry to a necessity, especially in New York City. If you're lucky, having roommates may be the most cost efficient and enjoyable living situation for you, sadly, there is no such thing as having perfect roommates and problems tend to arise when you need to share your space with others. To save yourself from future roommate issues, you might want to have a roommate contract in place to ensure a functional relationship with your roommates. The word "contract" might sound scary, but it will definitely come in handy from time to time. Make sure to cover quiet hours, visitor rules, what to share (cooking oil, coffee), what not to share (shampoo or your Chanel N°5 L'eau), and address them in the contract. You will be surprised how beneficial it could be.
However, having a roommate contract doesn't mean you'll necessarily be safe from all future roommate conflicts. Remember, communication is key to a successful, health and strong roommate relationship. You are adults, not some mind-readers or psychics. Instead of wasting time being passive-aggressive or speculating, put in the effort and take the time to tell each other how you feel. Approach your roommate and voice any issues or problems that are damaging your quality of life. Sometimes, roommates can become besties, and it's all about being open to express your feelings, whether good or bad, in a mature way.
If, unfortunately, you and your roommate do not get along with each other, and one of you intends to move out before the lease expires, do your research before you make any moves. If you plan to sublet your room, check with your landlord first. Many landlords do not allow subletting, and it would be unwise to break the lease, as they might penalize you. The penalty for breaking a lease can be anywhere around 1 to 3 months of rent. You also might have to forfeit the remainder of your security deposit. Best case scenario, one of you can stay in the apartment until the lease expires, and the landlord will give you the blessing to find someone else to sublet the room.
But what if the landlord refuses your request? This basically means that you will be stuck in the same apartment, until the lease expires. In this case, pluck up your courage and deal with your serious roommate hate. It might be awkward when you first approach your roommate, but keep in mind that it is for your own good. If the issues are more about differences in habits or personalities, be straight-forward and tell your roommate exactly what bothers you the most. Give your roommate some time to digest and express his/her concerns, and perhaps, you can reach a consensus and keep the peace until the lease expires. Again, communication is huge in a roommate relationship.
After the talk, take a vacation to reward yourself for the effort you put in, and spend some time to prepare yourself. It is never easy to live with someone, and it is even more challenging when you don’t get along with your roommate. But things will eventually come around.
Rushing only makes things more complicated and difficult! Give yourself enough time to search for the right person to room with. Look beyond your friend circle, and be patient. Chances are that you'll find out more about what type of person you really want to share an apartment with once you start looking.
- Find out how your prospective roommates live.
Most roommate horror stories show you how dangerous it can be to live with someone who has different living habits. Get as much information as possible - no one will be a perfect match, but ask yourself if these habits are things you can live with
- Ask what they expect from you.
Just like being in a relationship, sometimes you will have to compromise to keep the peace. To make your life easier, set the right expectations first to avoid future disasters. When the time comes, answer as accurately as you can.
- Listen to your guts.
Finding the perfect roommate is like dating. Sometimes, red flags and no-nos will present themselves organically. If something does not feel right to you, or if it makes you awkward or nervous, trust your instincts.
- Be upfront about “the money stuff”.
Money matters can strain an otherwise happy roommate relationship. Talk to your prospective roommate about every bill, figure out how much of the rent each person is responsible for (including estimating monthly bills such as rent and utilities), and be clear about how you want it handled.
- Do multiple interviews.
Remember, a roommate relationship can be really intimate, and you must be cautious. Don’t ever offer a room to someone after one meeting, and for your safety and quality of life, meet up in person before moving in together.
- Ask for references.
Just as landlords will ask for references, you should ask for references from your prospective roommates, too. Speak with their previous roommates or landlords so you have all you need to know about them.