Roommate Search

Roommate Search

Lessons From Having a Roommate

I loved college.  I was a student at Western Michigan University from 2002-2007. Yes, I was there for five years, and I graduated with a bachelor’s degree. During my freshmen year, I lived in the dorms. The next four years, I lived off campus. When I was teaching just south of Detroit, I couldn’t find a roommate. Those four years were also awesome, and I will write another blog about living by myself in the future. However, I learned valuable lessons from having a roommate. In 2022, you will want to start your roommate search early.

Why Do You Have a Roommate?

During your late teens and early twenties, it is very likely that you will not be able to afford living by yourself. Regardless of what stage of life you are in, even if you can afford the rent and utilities you may want to have a roommate to socialize with. After living by myself for four years I can attest to feeling lonely, at times, when I was home. There may be an area of a city that you want to live in due to having access to mass transit, theaters, or sports venues. However, you may need a roommate to split the cost of living in that location. You may want to live in a particular complex because of the amenities that are offered. Having a roommate would reduce your living expenses if that building were out of your price range. By identifying your reasons why to have a roommate you are more likely to find the right people during your roommate search.

What are Your Priorities?

What stage of life are you in? Are you a college student that is trying to graduate as soon as possible without taking out loans?  Did you move to a new state?  Is your career your top priority and you don’t have time to make new friends? Once you can identify what your goals are then you can start to get an accurate vision of your ideal home life. This Pods article from June of 2020 brings up other roommate search questions to reflect on.

Some the questions that jumped out to me were:

1.) What is your sleep schedule? Who wants a roommate that hosts band practice while you sleep?

2.) How often do you clean? In 2022, we all have a new appreciation for killing germs. Maintaining a clean home is a higher priority than it was before 2020.

3.) Do you plan on having guests over? If so, how often and for how long? If you don’t like to entertain others, be honest with a potential roommate. 


Talk About How Bills Will Be Paid

If you live off campus, there will be rent due each month along with paying for utilities like internet and electricity. You may also be responsible for paying water, gas, and trash pick-up bills. You need to have discussions before signing a lease to make sure your roommate can afford to pay their portion of the bills. Keep the following questions from Roost in mind during your roommate search:

Whose name is on the lease? 

Will you divide the rent equally or based on the size of room?

How will you both pay the bills? Where is the money coming from?

If your name is on the lease, did your roommate provide a credit check and references from previous roommates?


Have A Roommate Agreement Too

Once you have met a potential roommate at least three times in person, it’s time to create a roommate agreement. In addition to the lease with your landlord the roommate agreement is a document that outlines who will pay the rent, utilities, and how those will be divide between the roommates.  The document should also address some common house rules such as cleaning responsibilities, parking arrangements, security deposits, pets, entertaining guidelines, and overnight guests. Now, in the situation where a roommate moves out before the end of the lease a roommate agreement may help the remaining roommates if legal action is required. Most judges will not get involved in a dispute over cleaning the kitchen, but when it comes to recovering financial losses, this signed agreement will come in handy.  Once you have all signed a roommate agreement and lease with the landlord your roommate search is done. 


Renters Insurance

Every roommate will bring their own possessions to the rented home.  That’s why it is essential for everybody living there to have their own renters insurance policy. Trust me, we were able to save over $14,000 by having renters insurance.  You cannot insure property that does not belong to you. So, in the event there was damage to a roommate’s property your renters insurance may not cover the items that were owned by your roommate. Renters insurance costs about $14 per month, so if a potential roommate claims it’s out of their budget that’s a red flag. 

I Would Like to Thank My Roommates

I have been married for ten years, and we have been blessed with two children and one dog. When I think back to my college years my roommates are part of so many great memories. They were there to help proofread my papers.  I would pay them in the form of beer.  They helped me learn how to cook and would open a window to let the smoke out of the kitchen. We hosted legendary Halloween parties, and we cleaned up the following day together. In 2004, we set up our first Facebook pages together. I called a roommate to let her know that she had three letters from the law school she applied to.  We celebrated together when she discovered those were acceptance letters. My roommates helped me get over a few broken hearts, and then danced the night away at my wedding in 2011.  Form the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2007 I lived off $500 per month, but that time flew by.  

In 2022, the process of finding a roommate has evolved. With a crazy housing market, you may need to have a roommate longer than you expected. By having a clear idea of why you are looking for someone to share a home with you are more likely to have a positive experience. You also will want to have a plan for the money you are saving during this season of life. If you would like to learn more about creating a budget, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @salchowcoaching. I also offer individualized financial coaching via Zoom. You can set up a consultation to learn more about my programs on my website, Salchow Coaching.

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