Are you considering living with, or actively looking for, a roommate? There are certainly many advantages to deciding to share an apartment – from cost savings to even potentially a new friend. If you do decide to look for an apartment with a roommate, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Finding a Roommate
There are a variety of ways to go about identifying a possible roommate, even if you do not know anyone else who is or will be in Chicago. As with the apartment search itself, it’s best to consider beforehand what you need or want in a roommate – is it important that they share your cleaning or social preferences? Are you willing to live with pets, or with someone who smokes? Where are you hoping to live, and do you have a preference for a type of apartment? Once you’ve identified your needs in these areas, consider some of the following options for finding a roommate.
- Connect with current or incoming students on listhosts or social media. Does your school, department, or division have a listhost, Facebook page, or other way to contact others in those programs?
- Use a roommate matching service. These are offered by some of the major rental companies we list elsewhere, including Vue 53, Hyde Park Property Management, Mac Apartments, and others.
- Look for listings of current tenants advertising for a new roommate. The University’s Marketplace site and other listing sites will often have ads seeking a new roommate. You could also post such an ad asking for someone to apartment-hunt with.
- Make sure that you are clear up front about the items you identified as most important to you, and think about how you will know the person will be a reliable and safe roommate. Once you have identified a potential roommate, consider discussing with them the sorts of issues that may arise. Dealing with these issues up front may save you from problems later, and should be addressed before signing a lease with them. Consider creating a written agreement in advance spelling out your arrangement.
Remember that once you sign a lease together, you will each individually be responsible to the landlord for all Tenant obligations under the terms of your lease, including the rent and any damages to the unit – so please choose your fellow tenants carefully.
- Do you share the concerns that you identified as most important? That is, will your preferences regarding cleaning, lifestyle, studying, and social habits be a good fit with this person’s preferences?
- Will he or she respect your personal property and privacy?
- How will you divide the rental payments, utility expenses, and even groceries?
- Who will provide or pay for which household items (furniture, kitchenware, etc.)?
Tips for Living With a Roommate
Planning ahead is a great way to ensure that you and your roommate are a good fit. Going into the roommate relationship with open lines of communication, and having a plan for addressing issues if they arise, will help you prevent unnecessary conflicts. Below are some tips to help you make the most of this experience.
- Be sure that you are being a good roommate. Adhere to the terms of your agreement and your rental obligations, and be open to dialogue and feedback.
- Avoid implicit language and try to be explicit – don’t expect him or her to be able to read your mind.
- When possible, communicate with your roommate in person. This is more likely to be effective than communicating via impersonal notes or other forums.
- Be flexible – if both of you are open to compromise and adjustment along the way, new situations can be addressed constructively.
- If an issue arises that you are not able to reach agreement on, ask a neutral third party to help you find a solution together.