Looking for a Roommate: Should You Live with Your Best Friend?
My sophomore year of college was a disaster, mainly because my roommate and I disagreed on everything from when to turn off the music so the other could get some rest to whose turn it was to clean the bathroom floor. Our Sunday nights transformed into episodes of Jerry Springer, and when our one-year lease was up, we happily parted ways and stopped communicating. Too bad, because before we became roommates, we were best friends -- for 11 years.
Apparently, choosing a best friend as a roommate is not always the right move. According to Dan Ross, manager of nationwide roommate-matching service, RoommateExpress.com, sharing your digs with a close pal may result in broken friendships, as happened in my case. Good friends often decide to live with one another because they have similar interests, says Ross. "But then they live together 24/7 and realize it isn't a good match, and they not only lose a roommate, but their friendship as well," he adds.
Before deciding who to share your space with, take a step back and reflect on what matters to you and what you hope to find in an ideal roommate. Ross, whose roommate-placement service boasts an 80 percent success rate, suggests following these tips for a near-perfect roomie match.
Take a Look at Yourself
Self-evaluation is an important step in the search for a roommate candidate. Look at your strengths and weaknesses and be honest. Make a list of your needs and your character and personality traits. If you're messy, would you be able to stand a neat-freak? If you're a quiet person, would you be interested in living with someone who talks a lot?
Take a Look at Your Candidate
Learn a lot about your potential flatmate and see how compatible you are. Ross suggests comparing smoking habits, overnight guest habits, cleanliness and financial responsibility (to make sure you don't get evicted due to the rent that remained unpaid after you started a mini-fire and landed in the hospital from dropping a burning cigarette on your carpet because your roommate surprised you with news of an Oktoberfest-themed sleepover for 10 of his or her friends. A mouthful, I know, but hey, it could happen).
After screening your candidates, make a list of similar interests you might share. Maybe it's important to you that he or she is athletic so that you can finally have someone to partner with at your community's tennis match or maybe, you'll discover that you both share a passion for blood-curdling horror flicks. These interests could help you build a stronger bond with your roommate, if that is what you are looking for, of course.
Opt For a Sex Change
No, I'm not suggesting you head to your nearest surgeon; just keep in mind that in some cases, individuals of opposite sex make better roommates. "Sometimes, when you have two women, there's too much drama in the house, too much competition," Ross laughs. Picking guys as roommates may be a better option because "guys are less dramatic, they just want to come home, eat and relax."
What Do You Want?
Make sure you figure out what you want out of your roommate: a best friend, a companion or just a person to rent a room and share apartment expenses? This is essential when weighing how much you can handle. "No one's going to be a perfect roommate," warns Ross. Realize that in many cases, you'll have to tolerate the other's habits or quirky personality traits and remember: you can't change him or her. Think whether what you're fussing over is really that big of a deal or something you can overlook. However, always be vocal about your frustrations and discuss them in a calm, rational manner, because small things do add up, and if you don't express what's bothering you, you might not be able to stand one another a few weeks after you've signed the lease.