Perhaps one of the most jarring changes college presents to young students is that they must learn to deal with a roommate. With all that newfound independence, it can be difficult coming to terms with living in close quarters with someone else. Although for freshman year, students generally don’t have a choice of whom they live with, once they move off-campus having a roommate can make living in Richmond much more affordable.
Choosing a good roommate is a key component to having a happy housing experience in college, and it all depends on preferences. It’s often said that people shouldn’t room with their best friends, but it could be a risk rooming with a complete stranger as well.
The first question to answer is how many people want to live together, and what kind of rooming situation will be appropriate. The more people living in an apartment or house, the lower the cost, which can be great in a costly area like Richmond. Living with more than one other person means it could be more difficult coordinating rent and other bills. There are apartments where each tenant has a bedroom or two tenants share a bedroom, which also brings down the cost.
After deciding how many people (or how few) will be living together, the next step is to discuss each other’s preferences. How late do you like to stay up? Do you usually wake up early or sleep in? Are you a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper? These are the questions to ask before moving in together so that setting ground rules doesn’t cause any animosity.
Plenty of college students worry about how much or how little sleep they’re going to get, something that can be greatly affected by an unsuitable roommate. Choosing the right roommate means choosing someone either with a similar schedule to your own, or someone who will be respectful of your different schedules and avoid interrupting your sleep.
Another area where it’s important to determine ground rules from the get-go is guests. It is inevitable that roommates will have guests over at some time, and no one can always control what their guests do. It’s good to discuss ahead of time how many guests each roommate feels comfortable with having at once, especially when it comes to a party situation.
Finances are a huge part of getting an off-campus apartment, whether parents co-sign or not can make a huge difference. It’s smart to look for a roommate who you know will be able to pay the bills. Late payments on rent and other bills can not only reflect poorly on whoever pays them late, but it can hurt everyone else’s reputation as well. If one roommate has to suddenly move out or cannot continue paying for rent, the other tenants can become responsible for their portion, which is not something a starving college student wants to deal with.
Additionally, renting an apartment while in college is a good start to building credit, but with an irresponsible roommate, that credit could be ruined.
Finally, and no less importantly, cleanliness is a big deal when living with someone else. A roommate who will take responsibility for their own mess and clean it up accordingly is a pleasant rarity. When searching for potential roommates, it’s important to observe what their usual cleaning habits are and whether they line up to everyone else’s. If everyone in the apartment is a neat freak, students can look forward to a spic and span future apartment. Even if everyone is a bit laissez-faire about cleaning, the apartment may not always be shining, but it at least won’t cause any arguments between roommates.
Whether finding your roommate or roommates from your pool of friends or off of Craigslist, it’s always useful to discuss things ahead of time to avoid issues and guarantee a happy housing experience for everyone involved.