In the past I have had ten roommates- My first roommate was in the college Freshmen dorms and was actually an acquaintance of mine from high school. We were really lucky because we loved the same music, had the same style of clothes and were both really excited to be living in San Francisco on our own. Fast forward a few years to when I moved to New York- I lived with a friend in his studio for two months and later on moved in with my best friend. She and I got really lucky and found an awesome two bedroom brownstone in a really nice neighborhood in Brooklyn. Fast forward another few years, a couple more cities, and I landed myself in Los Angeles. My first LA roommate and I found each other via Craigslist. The rent was cheap ($500) and literally down the street from the Hollywood Bowl. When she left, another best friend of mine moved in and we were lucky because we had known each other since high school. Finally I moved again- into a ginormous 2000 square foot flat with two guys. I hadn't really lived intimately with men before, with the exception of an ex boyfriend. All these different apartments in various cities with many different types of people for roommates have taught me valuable lessons.
1. Communication is key! It's really important to live with people you can talk to easily. Whether you want to have a really close relationship with them or not, you still need to be able to tell them when you're not happy or if you are upset by something in the home.
2. Decide who is responsible for what: Often with just two roommates it's easy to just give and take the shared household duties. I have found living in a household of three, that someone always is doing more than the other two, and someone is always lazier about chores. Trust me, you don't want to be the only one who mops, cleans the windows, wipes down the kitchen and then you can't get your roommate to even take out the trash. If sharing the responsibilities cannot be split evenly, just delegate each week who does what.
3. Split the bills 50/50: If you have cable, internet, phone, electric, water and gas to share, it's easiest just to split it in half. One person might use more of the internet and never use the land line... but honestly this just gets messy. If you can move in knowing everything is split evenly it makes collecting checks alot easier every month. Also if you are the sole name on all the bills you will find it even more frustrating trying to collect down to the nearest dollar.
4. Respect each other's privacy: This probably seems like an obvious statement, but you'd be surprised what boundaries are blurred when living with people. Remember to knock first. Remember not everyone is a morning person. Try to be mindful of overnight guests. Always ask before borrowing, no matter how close you are.
5. If you're just not sure, put a lock on it: I know, it seems extreme to lock your own bedroom door but trust me it helps. If you are in a home with 3 or 4 people, who all work different schedules, all with different friends...well who knows what's happening when you're at work or away on weekends. If you want the ultimate protection of your room and belongings, just put a lock on your door.
6. Get it in writing: When you move in, you could be coming in mid-lease term or just for a sublet. The more you have in writing the better. Even it's a simple note that you both sign that states the terms of your stay, your deposit and monthly rental agreement. People can be pretty shady when it comes to moving out, and getting the deposit back to you properly.
7. Common annoyances among roommates: 1. Do your own dishes. You ate off them, you should do them. If one roommate mandates they be done right after eating, this is a respect issue and everyone should abide by it. 2. Same goes for taking out the trash- if it's piling up just take it out, don't wait for someone to assume responsibility of it. 3. Sharing the bathroom can always be a challenge. I know it's nuts but sometimes a verbal agreement or schedule is nice, especially if you both work the same hours.
8. Pets: Whether you're moving into a home with existing pets, or if you're bringing yours with you, it's important to establish the responsibility. Can you depend on your roommate to feed your dog if you stay out late? Do you want to be stuck cleaning the litter box of your roommates cat? All these are valid concerns that need to be addressed early on.