Three Ground Rules for Living with a Roommate

Even though we’re just a few months away from the 2012 Presidential election, you probably wouldn’t expect to see a post about politics on an apartment locator blog. But this isn’t traditional politics we’re talking about. This is about the politics of living with a roommate. No one wants to live somewhere where you are constantly fighting about the temperature or whose turn it is to take out the trash. With just a little bit of pre-planning and ground rules, you can make your roommate experience something that will be a positive – not a negative. So here are Move For Free’s three ground rules for living with a roommate.

Agree on Equal Chore Responsibilities

Chores are some of the most argued about issues amongst roommates. Different people can have different perceptions of cleanliness or filthiness. It usually works best to agree that the main, common areas of the apartment should stay clean, and it’s the responsibility of each person living there to make sure that happens. Decide the very first day or before you move in who is responsible for each chore. If one person is responsible for vacuuming, then the other person should mop the kitchen floor. Also, come up with a time frame to get the chores done. Some people think ten minutes is too long to leave dirty dishes in the sink while others could leave them there for days without noticing. Come up with a compromise. It also helps to have this in writing. A magnet calendar on the refrigerator with lists of upcoming chores may also help.

Agree on Money Responsibilities Before First Bills are Due

Money is always a struggle in any relationship. Friends, marriages, friendships and even roommates all feel the strain that money issues can bring. When you split household bills with another person it is VERY important to set up a system before your first month’s bills are due. There are several different ways to divvy up the bills. We’ve seen one roommate responsible for one utility while the other is responsible for cable, for instance. We’ve also seen roommates who split everything down the middle. The important thing is to decide right away and stick to that plan. Figuring this out immediately also helps when setting up all the accounts. Whose name will the cable bill be in? Who is putting down the deposit for the electric bill? Online bill pay makes paying bills a lot easier, but it’s still important to plan, and, again, get it in writing. Check to see when each bill is due each month and write it on a communal calendar that you both can see.  Choose two days a month where both of you can sit down at the computer and pay bills. Write these days down on the calendar as well. You may think the person you’re moving in with is your best friend and you know him or her better than you know yourself – but money (or a lack thereof) makes people do strange things. Make sure this is worked out before you move in.

Confront Any Potential Issues Before Lease is Signed

Speaking of working out issues before you move in, make sure you talk about your lifestyle habits with your potential roommate before that lease is signed. If you go to bed every day at 9pm, the last thing you want is someone who stays up all night and throws spontaneous parties three nights a week. Make sure and set ground rules for the following topics: appropriate noise level for music/TV, how late guests are allowed over, how long guests are allowed to stay, reasonable temperature for the apartment, which food is mutual and which is private, if pets are allowed and, most importantly, what’s the status on significant others spending time at the apartment. You might disagree on some issues, so work out a compromise before you put pen to paper.