When I first started living on my own in Southern California, I. was. broke.
I didn’t have a car, I was skinny because I didn’t have a lot of money for food, and – unlike a lot of my friends – I didn’t have the privilege of just hitting up my parents for cash. They were also broke, so they needed money to survive too.
So, to lower my expenses, I lived with roommates.
And, for most of my adult life, I have shared a room with at least one other person. And, at a couple points in my life, I even shared a 2-bedroom apartment with 4 other people. (Don’t ask me how.)
Now, if you’re like me and you live in an area with a high cost of living, chances are, you’re going to have to live with a roommate. But, believe it or not, living with a roommate can be an awesome experience. It just requires a little extra work upfront to make sure you’re all on the same page.
So, with this in mind, here are my four tips for living with roommates…
Tip # 1: Make sure that you and your roommates are compatible.
I cannot stress this point enough.
If you want a stress-free roommate experience, it is important that you and all of your roommates are compatible.
Now, ideally, you would already be friends with your roommates ahead of time, but just because you’re friends with a person does not necessarily mean you that you would make good roommates. In fact, I’ve lost friends because we were not compatible as roommates.
So, before you sign a lease together, schedule a conversation ahead of time to iron out your expectations.
And, be honest.
For example, are you a messy person? That’s fine – I’m messy as hell and I’ve found roommates who are just as messy and we’ve never had a problem. But, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your potential roommates so you know what to expect ahead of time.
And, if you’re going to live with a stranger, that’s totally fine, I’ve lived with strangers and had great experiences. But, try to do as much Internet stalking as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for references and – if you have mutual friends – reach out and ask questions.
Tip #2 – Create a contract with a set of expectations
Now, I cannot tell you how many terrible situations I’ve been in that could have been prevented by a simple roommate agreement.
And, I know that getting your roommates to sign a contract seems really awkward, but you’re going to save yourself a lot of pain and heartache by doing this upfront.
Now, At the very least, this contract should list how your rent, security deposit and utilities will be split, with an exact dollar amount or percentage. And, it should also map out the process for when a roommate decides to move out.
But, I also recommend taking the time to include house rules as well. So, if your roommate has a significant other, how many times are you comfortable having them in your apartment?
How far in advance should your roommate notify you if they’re going to have friends over? And, when is it too late for your roommate to play loud music?
Now, if your roommate stops wash her dishes, there’s no court in the United States that will hold her accountable. But, if your roommate decides to dip without paying rent or utilities, this agreement will give you grounds to sue.
Which brings us to…
Tip #3 – Make Sure Every Roommate is On the Lease
Once again, I cannot stress this point enough.
Now, obviously if your roommate decides to dip without paying the rent, you’ll still be responsible for covering her portion, But, if your roommate is on the lease, she is equally as liable if the rent is not paid, so this will give her an incentive to making sure her share of the rent is handled.
Tip #4 – Automate your shared expenses
Because nothing is more awkward than having to constantly nag your roommates to pay their share of the rent or utilities.
And, that is where Zently comes in!
So, the Zently team reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in trying out their free app and, honestly, I’m pretty impressed.
Now, typically I’ll just use PayPal and send a request to my roommates to cover their share of utilities, but what makes Zently cool is that you can schedule all of your payments ahead of time. And, when you pay your rent, Zently automatically sends a check or electronic transfer directly to your landlord.
Now, that’s a big plus for me, because they way I currently use PayPal is I have to physically schedule on my calendar 3-5 business days befor the first, so my landlord receives our rent on time.
But, once you tell Zently when your rent is due, they automate all of that for you so all you have to do is pay your rent when the app notifies you.
And, what makes it even more cool is that it also manages appliance issues. So, if your dishwasher is broken, you can use Zently to notify your landlord, add pictures and comments, and it keeps a record of all appliance updates. (Which is super helpful if you have a landlord who likes to procrastinate when your appliances aren’t working.)
So, right now Zently is only available in the United States, but if you’re interested, they’re doing a free rent giveaway, so if you pay rent using the Zently app, you will be entered to win a free month of rent! Pretty cool!
As always, thank you so much for reading my post and let me know if you have any additional tips for living with roommates!
And, until next time – I wish you all progress and prosperity.
**This post is sponsored by Zently (yay, my first sponsor ever!)