The first question every apartment renter has to ask themselves as they embark on their search is whether or not they want to have a roommate or even multiple roommates. As there are many pros and cons to living with a roommate this can be a big decision.
What is a roommate?
In technical terms, a roommate is supposed to be someone who literally occupies the same room as another person. To the relief of apartment-dwellers everywhere, the word has evolved to describe someone who shares a home with someone else, separate bedrooms included.
The pros and cons of living with a roommate
Having a roommate can be the best part of apartment living. It can also be a nightmare.
There are many pros and cons of living with a roommate, so we've made a list of them for you to help you make this all-important life decision.
Pro: Save money on rent, utilities
One of the biggest pros of living with a roommate is the luxury to split the cost of rent and utilities. This means that you'll be able to afford a nicer, larger apartment than you could if you were living by yourself.
You can also split the cost of other shared items, like groceries and cleaning products. One little caveat, though — make sure that you come to an agreement with your roommate about these shared costs before embarking on a journey together.
Con: They may miss payments
The problem with splitting the cost of rent and utilities is that they have to be paid whether your roommate can afford it that month. If your roommate is not reliable when it comes to making payments, it could end up costing you.
When deciding on a roommate, consider their work history. Do they frequently quit or get fired from their job? Do they have a history of debt or making late payments? Have they skipped out on other roommates before?
If you already know the person, you might be privy to this information, but if you're interviewing a stranger to be your roommate then do your due diligence and check references, including past landlords. These factors might not just leave you with a larger bill than you expected, but could dramatically impact your credit history.
Pro: They help you clean
It's a lot easier to clean your apartment when you can split the chores with another person. If you're really lucky, you'll be able to avoid doing the chores you like the least.
It's a good idea to make some sort of a chore chart to keep both you and your roommate accountable, though so that one person doesn't feel like they're doing all the grunt work.
Con: They help make a mess
Two people living in one apartment also means it's twice as likely to get messy. Dishes can pile up, and trash bins may overflow, and it can be easy for roommates to pass the blame and responsibility off on to each other.
If you know your roommate before you move in and they're a generally messy person, it is likely they'll continue to be messy, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise.
Pro: You'll have built-in friends
Of all the pros and cons of living with a roommate, this one has the most emotional potential to be beneficial or damaging, depending on how things go. Having a roommate means there's always someone there to hang out with or talk to when you come home from a long day at work. Nothing says “home" quite like watching movie marathons together in your pajamas.
Con: You might not get along
On the other hand, if you and your roommate don't get along, it can make for a very uncomfortable living situation. Be careful whom you choose as a roommate to avoid this issue altogether.
Note: If you're romantically attracted to your potential roommate, you should strongly consider choosing someone else. Hooking up with a roommate is a recipe for disaster because when you break up, there's literally nowhere to hide.
Pro: You can share furniture
If you're renting your first apartment, purchasing all the necessary furniture and kitchen supplies can be expensive. Pooling resources with a roommate will make the process of furnishing your apartment much easier.
However, when it comes time to go your separate ways, you might run into some problems regarding possession of the belongings you initially split. It's a good idea to agree upon ownership and a possible buyout agreement before splitting high-ticket items.
Con: You'll have less privacy
When you have a roommate, you have very little privacy. Your bedroom may be the only place you can go to be alone, and if your roommate has boundary issues, that may not even be true. If you prefer lots of opportunities for solitude, living with a roommate is not for you.
Pro: There's potential for lots of fun
If you really enjoy socializing with your roommate, every night has the potential to be epic. Whether you party at home or head out for the evening together, it's nice knowing that you always have a wingman (or woman) who has your back. Plus, who wants to pay a full Lyft fare at the end of the evening if they don't have to?
Con: There's potential for massive noise
It's possible that while you enjoy the occasional party night, your roommate might take it totally next level. This can lead to lots of noise into the wee hours of the morning when you really need to be getting some sleep.
Even if they're not totally wild and crazy, some people are just naturally loud talkers and walkers, which can lead to you downloading every white noise app known to man in an effort to drown them out.
Pro: You Can Help Each Other Out
Roommates are usually more than happy to help with the occasional favor, like picking you up when your car is being serviced or splitting up the 12-hour time range that the cable guy is supposed to come. When done right and reciprocated, this scenario is beneficial to everyone.
Con: Constant favors can be annoying
Some people take your willingness to do occasional favors to mean that you're at their beck and call. All. The. Time. It's easy enough to dodge calls and texts from people who don't live with you, but avoiding a roommate is next to impossible. Which is how you might end up picking up her cat from its manicure appointment because she's too busy getting a massage.
To live with a roommate or fly solo?
There's no crystal ball to see whether a roommate scenario is going to be an insanely great or awful experience. Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of living with a roommate carefully, then clearly discuss expectations with the potential flatmate (on both sides).
This is especially important if a valued friendship is involved. It's one thing to fall out with a relative stranger, but you don't want your relationship with your bestie to become a thing of the past.