When the time comes to renew your lease, the more roommates you have, the more likely changes will happen. Apartments are temporary; you pick to live in a rental with roommates because you’re in a transitional period in life. Most twenty-somethings who live in apartments have ever-changing jobs, relationships, grad school acceptances, and other unpredictable real-life adult factors that can easily lead to a decision to move. I have learned that three simple rules make switching roommates easier to manage.
1.) Plan ahead
In order to protect yourselves, leave plenty of time before your lease expires to find out who plans to stay. If your roommates can’t decide, give them a firm deadline. Finding the perfect new roommate takes time, and you don’t want to spend a year with the first person who emails you off Craigslist. Also, finding a roommate who meshes with both you and your other roommates who are staying, can take even more time than if you’re just searching for yourself.
2.) Be very clear about expenses
When adding a new roommate to the group, make sure she knows all of the expenses and how they are split up front. If all the rooms cost different amounts, explain why, and make sure she is comfortable with it. Is your new roommate subletting the room or adding onto the lease? Make sure this is clear, so when it comes time to renew, you all have your finances in order.
3.) Give the new roomie a voice in the running of the house
Once the new roommate moves in, decide if you want to introduce her to house rules or if you want to have a meeting to create new ones. In my experience, starting over, not explaining how things already work, has been best for everyone. Maybe you think your chores system works, but she’s coming from an apartment with a much better cleaning method! And worst of all, you are all adults, if someone doesn’t agree with the house rules (everyone cleans on Sundays! No cats! Vegetarian kitchen!) they can break them with pretty minor repercussions.
Most importantly, be welcoming to your new roomie! See if she wants a new layout of the living room furniture, or if she has a poster she’d rather substitute for the abstract painting hanging in your hallway. You want her to love the place as much as you do, and hopefully feel at home as soon as possible.