As much as you want to get that great apartment, it's smart to pause and make sure this arrangement is right for both of you. Schedule a lunch or dinner together and discuss the decision before you sign the lease.
- Know your limits: Sometimes it’s difficult to find that sweet spot where you know you are being reasonable—not a tyrant, but not a doormat. Think about how you like to live and what’s a big deal to you. Do you like things quiet on Saturday and Sunday mornings so you can sleep in? Does it drive you nuts to come home to a pile of dishes soaking in the sink? Tell your prospective roommate upfront and give them a turn to talk about their deal-breakers, too.
- Discuss your habits: Talk about your daily routine and then ask your roommate(s) to walk through theirs. Take time to work through issues like kitchen and bathroom access so you can all stay on schedule and find a compromise.
- Talk expectations and personality: Ask your roommate what they’d like to get out of this arrangement so you aren’t disappointed if they want the detached, mind-your-own-business life while you're seeking friendship. Consider taking an online personality quiz, whether it’s a brief pencil/paper version or something more in depth, and use that to begin your conversation.
- Shared expenses: Have the money talk and try to get a good handle on expenses so you know who's responsible for what. Once you’ve decided on bills, make it official and easy to see. Some apps help you keep track or will even send payments for you. In other instances, a simple chart and envelope will do.
- Chores: Agree to a basic plan, such as making sure all dishes are washed and stray items picked up and put away every day. Then make a cleaning schedule and divide up the chores. Give each other an incentive to follow through—for example, if one has to handle a chore for the other, the one who dropped the ball must carry 5 percent of the roommate’s rent for next month.
- Renters insurance: Your landlord’s policy most likely won’t protect the belongings you bring into the apartment. Additionally, if something happens to a visitor spending time at your place, renters insurance can also protect you if there are medical costs for which you’re responsible. Ask your roommate if he or she is covered and be sure to shop for a policy of your own.
- Emergency contacts: Make sure both of you have all the information you need to handle anything that comes up. This should include your property management company, including an after-hours emergency phone number, along with your utility company and any service people you might be allowed to call on your landlord’s behalf. It’s also a good idea to swap emergency contact information so you can easily reach your roommate’s boss or loved ones if something comes up.
- Trust your gut: If you have a bad feeling about this person, you can always opt out. It's not fun to drop this bombshell on anyone, but it’s much easier to do it before any papers are signed.
In the final post, learn about the ways you can avoid conflict with the roommate you eventually choose.