With everyone losing sleep over Netflix’s trending thriller “Worst Roommate Ever” (which is based on true stories, by the way!), it leaves much to the imagination when searching to fill that empty room down the hall.
While the probability of your next roomie being a cold-blooded murderer or an extravagant thief is relatively low, there are some red flags to look for when contemplating a potential applicant. Even though we’d like to think their qualifications only have to check one box, “pays bills on time,” there’s a lot more to it than that if you want to feel relaxed in your new living situation.
1. You Don’t Share the Same Love for Cleanliness
What may not lead to a gruesome crime could still become super aggravating to deal with day after day when living together. If you’re adamant about keeping all your clothes neatly folded, dishes being washed after use, and sweeping more than once in a blue moon, then you’re going to want someone who shares that responsibility. Meaning someone who leaves dirty laundry all over the place, throws wrappers on the floor, and somehow manages to get spaghetti caked onto the ceiling will not be a good match for you.
2. They’re Big into Partying
It’s all fun and games until you’re the one dealing with the aftermath. If your new roommate loves to host and throw ragers every weekend, then expect your place to get trashed in the process. You’ll be dealing with drunk strangers in your home who most likely aren’t going to respect your things. Cleanup duty, noise complaints, and damages will all fall on your shoulders, whether you were in attendance or not. So be sure you’re on the same page before signing the lease!
3. All Their Past Roommates Were “Crazy”
It’s kind of like when you date a guy and amazingly enough every single ex of his was “crazy.” To the point where you start to wonder, “Hmmm, who's actually the 'crazy' one?” Same goes for roommates. If in every scenario they were somehow always the victim and their former roommate was a monster, then run! More than likely you’re talking with the villain, not the victim.
4. They Aren’t Financially Stable
Back to checkbox one. Make sure your roommate, at the very least, can foot their bills. If they’re irresponsible with their finances, are living off maxed out credit cards, and have debt collectors constantly ringing their cell, then that’s a red flag that will become your responsibility. Next thing you know, a seemingly innocent “Can you pay my half of the electric bill this month? I promise I’ll pay you back!” becomes you paying double for every bill, every month.
Make sure your roommate, at the very least, can foot their bills.
5. They Don’t Have a Job
This ties into being financially stable. If your potential roommate is out of a job and looking to move in right away, it may be a good idea to hold off until they find something. Even if they have a decent savings account to tap into, wait until they find a job with consistent cash flow (and have signed the contracts!). You don’t want to get yourself into a hope-addicted situation where a job never comes and then their savings run out.
6. Friends Are Reaching Out to You About Them
You responded to an ad on Craigslist, got coffee with this potential roomie, had a great time…this is it! When you start telling your friends you think you found the perfect person, of course they’re going to want the name. If, when you name drop, you immediately see them cringe...reconsider. Make an effort to ask around about this person (in a non-nosy way) and see what you can gather. Sometimes what may seem perfect on paper, may not be so perfect in reality.
7. They’re Possessive
It’s okay to be proud of your things and want to protect your space. However, if it seems this person is overly possessive of their territory, that could be a red flag. As you live together, it’s inevitable that you’ll be expected to share some common areas and items. This could result in conflict if this person is unwilling to share, even minimally. If they take out the red tape to put up a divider across the living room…then you know for sure!
8. Their Boyfriend Is Always Around
If your roommate is in a relationship, make sure you set a schedule around her beau’s visits. With a new space, it could become tempting for her to not want to split the time at his place anymore. You didn’t sign up for two roommates! Even if you think her boyfriend is great, it’s important to draw the line of what’s accepted.
Even if you think her boyfriend is great, it’s important to draw the line of what’s accepted.
9. They’re Not Great at Communicating
It takes a fair amount of effective communication to live with someone. With chores, shared spaces, shopping for the apartment, having people over, etc. there’s a lot to discuss. So be sure that the person you’re looking to live with can comfortably communicate with you. If they’re passive-aggressive, overly agreeable, or bossy, then decide if that’ll work for you. There’s nothing worse than paying to live on-edge in your own home.
10. They Lack Independence
If their mom is taking care of packing up their boxes, moving them in, reminding them of appointments, doing their laundry, buying their groceries – all while they sit on the couch – then you might be renting with a child. You want to be sure you have a roommate who’s confident in their independence. Because if they’re constantly relying on a parent now, you guessed it! You’ll become more than just a roommate, you’ll become their other mother.
11. They Don’t Respect Boundaries
You had all the right conversations, yet they do it anyway. If they eat your food, wear your clothes, and have people over without checking in, then it’s clear they don’t respect you or your boundaries. If you're both paying rent, then you should both be abiding by the same set of rules.
12. They’re Aggressive
When a person is emotionally charged, they will likely reveal some new sides of their personality. We’ve all reacted in ways we weren’t proud of when we were angry or sad, that’s being human. However, if it’s a consistent pattern that this person can’t emotionally manage themselves and they tend to resort to aggressive behaviors, then this isn’t the kind of person you want to live with.
If this person can’t emotionally manage themselves, then this isn’t the person you want to live with.
13. They Chronically Lie
If your roommate can’t be honest with you, then that’s going to leave a large gap for things to get messy. You don’t have to be close with your roommate, but you should at least be able to trust that they’re being upfront with you. While sharing bills, rent, and other things that significantly impact you, it’s reasonable to request the truth in these situations.
14. They Never Leave the House
Sometimes for the sake of sanity, we need some alone time in our own home. If this person seems to constantly be breathing down your neck and they never leave the house, this could become very stressful. Make sure you both recognize the importance of giving each other space to decompress. Even too much of a good thing can get exhausting!
15. They’re Your BFF
Living with your best friend can sound like the most idyllic situation in the world! I mean, you’re practically already living together anyway, right?
Living with your best friend, guaranteed, will bring out a whole new side of them you didn’t see before. Sharing responsibility changes things. It will enhance their flaws (and yours!) and could lead to some seriously tense arguments. The downside of being so close is that these arguments may cut deep and be hard to come back from if you’re not careful. So decide if this is really the best option for both of you. Honestly address all the above potential red flags first (it’s easy to have rose colored glasses on when it comes to your BFF), and see if this pairing truly aligns.
Living with a roommate can definitely pose its set of challenges, but when you find a really great roommate it can lead to some of your best memories! So while it may seem overwhelming being in search of one (or nightmare-inducing as you continue watching Netflix!), stay committed to your non-negotiables. By using these checkboxes as a general guideline, you can be sure you aren’t rushing into something just because the opportunity arises. Be selective, keep your standards high, and refuse to settle. The reward of finding a great roommate will be worth it!
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