Welcome to the Real World: Choose a Good Roomate

[Life after college is hard. Like really hard. But it’s not so hard that you should curl up in a ball and watch E! marathons all day long. Not only are we covering the experience from a first-hand perspective, but we’re now covering it from a how-to-survive-it perspective. Every week, we’re going to bringing the best advice to getting through your first post-grad year. Because sometimes, your grandmother’s “just go to law school” advice just doesn’t cut it.]
Choosing a roommate in college was easy. Your best friend, duh. But choosing your real world roommate gets a little trickier. Why? Because you’re an adult now and you need a roommate who acts like an adult. And sometimes, your very best friend doesn’t always act like one– and there’s more than your sleep and study space at stake now, it’s important things like your credit.
So how do you choose a good roommate and start off your grown up living situation on the right foot? Follow these guidelines and you’ll be living fight-free!
1. Discuss Money: Not to say money isn’t an issue in college, but it’s definitely not as much of an issue. There was one “nice” restaurant near my college campus and that meant the meals were $11 total. But in NYC, where I currently live, meals can range from $1 to $1000. Suddenly  money means a lot more and you need to discuss what you’re comfortable spending with your roommate. Give your roommate an idea of how much you’re making. Chances are that if she makes more, she’ll be comfortable spending more on things like rent, shared groceries, apartment cleaning, cable plans etc. Let her know off the bat how much you are willing to spend each month on the basics. Maybe you should buy your own groceries. Perhaps you should pro-rate the bedrooms depending on size. There are lots of options for living  on varied salaries within the same apartment, but if you don’t discuss it beforehand, things can get awkward. No it’s not a fun conversation, but it’s much better to have it before you start fighting over buying organic peanut butter.
2. Find someone responsible: Because there’s nothing worse than having to remind your roommate again and again to pay the rent every month. Or to set up the cable appointment. Or not to spend her paycheck on clothes. You want to live with someone who handles their money like an adult. And I’ll tell you why. Your rent is constantly late? That’s your credit. Electric bill in your name and it’s way overdue? Your credit.  This stuff follows you for the rest of your life and you don’t want to let it slide. It sucks, but it’s the truth.
3. Drop the school year mentality: Bad roommate in college? No worries, it was only for 9 months and you had a few big breaks during the school year. But in the real world, leases are not only for a year, but you tend to stay in one place longer. Moving is expensive and there’s a strong chance you’re not going to want to move each year. Oh, and unlike college, your lease cycle is most likely going to be different than your other friends. So you can’t switch up roommates that easily. This is why I emphasize the importance of thinking long and hard about your roommate choice. Do you want to see this person everyday for two years? If you already get annoyed with one of her quirks, then wait until you see her every single day after you come home from a long day at the office. Choose someone who you think will want to live with long term.
Follow these simple guidelines and I can almost promise things are going to go smoothly. I’m speaking from my own experience…the kind where I didn’t follow this advice and I ended up living with someone who constantly is late on rent, eats my food and calls me stingy when I won’t spring for the pricey toilet paper.

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