Finding a roommate can be a very difficult task even during normal times, more so during a widespread pandemic such as COVID-19. But hey, life goes on and pandemic or not, there are still lives to be lived, jobs to be done, rents to be paid, and pretty much everything is expensive.
We have compiled some tips to help you in finding the perfect roommate during these challenging times.
Friend or Stranger- Who makes a better roommate?
When it comes to finding the best roommate, it seems quite natural to take in one of your friends, as you think you know them well. However, such arrangements more often than not, tend to ruin a relationship you cherished.
On the other hand, accepting a stranger as a roommate could prove to be quite rewarding. You get to know a new person and it might bloom to be a beautiful relationship. If it does not work out, you don’t lose anything and may even stand to gain from the experience. So, our advice is simple to prefer a stranger when it comes to picking a roommate.
Advertise Your Room
The very first step is to let prospective roommate know that you have room to share. Unlike normal times it is not as easy to find a roommate at a time when many people are moving out and a lot more have lost their jobs. This is where your marketing skills (yes you do have them.)
Use your social media accounts to advertise your room and its advantages. Be sure to use websites to list your room. This will ensure people looking for accommodation get to see your room and enhance your chances of finding the ideal roommate. And, do let your friends and acquaintances know that you are looking for a roommate.
Arrange a meeting virtually!
With listings done, you will soon start receiving calls from people who are interested in your room. Now is the time to evaluate and find the roommate you prefer. If it were the normal times, you would probably set up a meeting and a tour of your place for your prospective roommate. But these aren’t normal times and you certainly cannot be too careful in dealing with a pandemic where anybody could be a carrier.
Ideally, you should set up a meeting via video conferencing and get to know them through some preliminary questions to gauge if both of you are on the same page. You may offer a virtual tour of your place to give them an idea of what they are getting.
Do make sure to have a set of questions handy to get to know what exactly they are looking for and if you will be comfortable having them as your roommate. Once you have narrowed it down, it's time for an in-person meeting. Be sure to follow social distance norms and make sure they wear a mask and use a sanitizer before they enter the premises.
If both of you agree to proceed further you should probably ask more pertinent questions to establish clear rules and social boundaries before signing a roommate agreement.
Ask the Right Questions
Some of the questions you might want to ask prospective roommate:
1.What is your job/profession?
It is important to know if the person is on a stable job and he could afford the rent. Otherwise, you might leave high and dry is he/she loses employment
2. How long will you be staying in this city/place?
It is a good thing to have an idea of how long your roommate will be with you. It may come as a surprise if after getting them onboard they decide to leave in a couple of months. That would land you in a tricky situation indeed. So, it’s best to ask and be clear from the very beginning.
3. How are you handling social distancing?
While this may not appear to be a very important question, it makes sense in the current scenario where we are facing an invisible threat. Find out what they think of the social distancing rule and what they have been doing during the shutdown. You may also ask them what they are doing to prevent the further spread of the virus. The more serious they are about following the precautions, the lesser the chance of them bringing home the virus once you are together.
4. Do you work from home? What is your work routine?
If the prospective roommate is someone who works from home, will they be using the living room throughout the day? Will you be comfortable if they attend work calls and hog the living room? Also, consider whether you yourself will be working from home and need the space. It will be difficult indeed if both end up shouting over each other in the living area.
If they don’t work from home are they part of the essential services which will put them at more risk of catching the virus? Are they required to travel a lot because of work and meet a lot of people? All these increase the risk of getting infected and ultimately bringing it home.
Also knowing the work routine will help you in deciding if you will be comfortable with their schedule. You definitely don’t want to be woken in the middle of the night after a tiring day at the office.
5. What do you do during the weekend/leisure time?
What your roommate is interested in and does on the weekend or their spare time is none of your business, right? Wrong! It is important to know what they are likely to indulge in. Do they have friends over during the weekend? This will also help you in determining what kind of a person you are taking on. Someone who loves to stay home or one who would rather be out partying. Neither is good or bad, but it is a question of what you will be comfortable with. You definitely don’t want to stay away from your own house because the roommate is having a blast with his friends!
6. Ask about their romantic relationships
It is a good idea to know if they are in a romantic relationship and if they intend to invite their partners over. Often, having a romantic partner is not an ideal condition for a roommate, considering you may be feeling out of place in your own living room when they come over. The odds are they will be coming over more often than you might like, leaving you uncomfortable at the end of the day. Imagine having to leave your house to accommodate your roommate and their romantic interest. So, it is better to have an idea beforehand what you are signing for.
7. Do you smoke/drink?
For some living with a smoker is just out of question. If you are in a building, it may have rules prohibiting smoking in common areas. Be sure your prospective roommate is aware of these regulations. If you are a smoker yourself, you better tell them beforehand. Similarly, it is wise to know their drinking habits as a social drinker is better than someone who drinks heavily.
8. Ask for references
You can ask them about their past roommate, and whether they are still in touch with any of them. What the person says about your past roommate helps you in defining and understanding the type of person you are taking on. If they talk fondly about some past roommate, it is a positive sign. On the other hand, if they are hesitant to speak about their past, there may be some room for concern. References are normal and usually, landlords seek endorsements from at least three reliable sources. You can also check their social media accounts to better understand them.
9. Their cooking/cleaning habits
You need to know if the person is used to cooking and if you will be okay with their schedule. Also need to know whether they are the tidy or the messy type. This will help you in planning and sharing housekeeping chores. If you are very particular about cleanliness it will be best to avoid someone who tends to be messy.
10. Their Expectations
It is a good idea to ask them what they expect in a roommate. It is only fair to assume that they will have their own preferences for a roommate just as you have yours. Make sure there is no room for doubt in what you both expect of each other.
Those are just a few of the questions that you might want to ask a prospective roommate. The questions are not exhaustive and you may want to add your own questions such as do you have a pet? and so on.
Put it all in writing
Once you have zeroed in on a roommate, it is time to seal the deal. Make sure to draw an agreement spelling out everything you have discussed and agreed upon. Once the agreement is drawn to your satisfaction, get it signed and you are done.