A short course in dealing with roommates: 101

A short course in dealing with roommates: 101

The price of New York rentals has increased steadily for years with no end in sight. As well, with the growing gentrification of most New York City boroughs, projections are that the prices will continue to grow at a healthy pace. And so, more people are getting priced out of their rentals and are resigned to move to cheaper neighborhoods, causing another trend: renting with roommates. 

If you decide to rent with a roommate(s) it can be a daunting experience. Finding somebody compatible to share costs is troublesome enough, but finding someone who likes the same place as you can be even more difficult. There are some basic rules that apply.  

Set the ground rules 

Playing with an open hand is always a good decision. Be honest about habits, likes, and dislikes. This helps minimize the chance for any subsequent arguments. Clarity is the key. After all, if you expect someone suitable to your way of living, you have to be aware of yourself, and not represent some idealized vision that you can’t live up to.  

Try and talk things out 

Problems will arise, sure. When they happen, it's crucial to discuss them with your roommate. Sweeping it under the carpet will not help. Things will pile up, perhaps even literally, until they overflow, breaking the deal along the way.  

Set up a system of consequence 

Something gets broken, something goes missing, things get ruined by misuse. This is normal and expectable; so you should be ready. There should be some behavior management tools; financial consequences might be most effective. The best way to go about it is probably to put some cash aside, mutually so no delay is required when things like that occur. 

Be prepared to move 

Sometimes things just don’t work out. The roommate who seemed so perfect when you were arranging things, turned out to be a roommate from nightmares, or the landlord keeps acting up on who knows what. There are a million things that can go wrong and so often they do. In that case, you should always try and be ready. Have a plan B, a tucked away budget for times of emergency, and a possible alternative place to rent. Sound harsh? They’re almost a must-have if you want to share a place with a roommate and still live stress-free as much as possible.   


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