Whether you’ve been friends forever, met via the Internet, or have even lived together in the past, it’s important to establish some mutual understandings with your new roommate before officially moving in together. A fun game of 20 questions can only make things better before signing a lease.
- Are we all paying the same amount per bedroom? If bedrooms are different sizes do we all contribute the same portion of the rent or split it up by room size and desirability?
- Are we sharing groceries? If so, what? Is everything up for grabs or do we only share staples like milk and OJ? Should we label our food or split the pantry into personal territories?
- Who wants to be in charge of the bills? Should we have a point person or rotate every month? Will we pay this person by check or an app like PayPal or Venmo? If there’s a late fee or bounced check, whose responsibility is it?
- Do we want cable TV? Should we pay extra for high speed Internet? Is there a choice of providers in our neighborhood? Should try to mooch off our neighbors’ services?
- Do we want a chore wheel? Should we rotate who cleans the bathroom and takes out the trash every week or do we operate on the honor system? Do we want a 24-hour rule for dishes in the sink?
- Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Should we establish ground rules for when he/she visits?
- What’s our policy for overnight guests? How far in advance do you want to know that my cousin will be staying on our sofa for five nights?
- Will we allow subletters? If I go on vacation can I put my room on Airbnb?
- Do we want to lock the door regularly or is it okay if it’s unlocked during the day? Do we have other safety concerns to agree on?
- Do we want to leave a copy of the key with a friend or neighbor in case we get locked out?
- If we plan a party on a public forum, like Facebook, is it okay to put our address online?
- Would you be interested in getting a pet? (I’ve had many roommates fight about the possibility, or lack thereof, of fostering kittens.)
- Do we recycle? Do we compost?
- How do we want to decorate common areas? Do we want to split the cost of art and furniture or each buy some pieces?
- Who’s buying communal goods like toilet paper? Should we have a joint fund or just switch off?
- What are some things I could do that would make you not want to live with me anymore?
- If one of us needs to move out during the lease, what would be the protocol?
- Are our religious traditions okay with each other? Will you be offended by a Christmas tree in December or a mezzuzah on the door?
- What are our alcohol and smoking policies? (And do these line up with the building’s?)
- How can we make this the best possible living experience for each other?
Best of luck with your new roomies. Please let us know in the comments if we missed any of your must-ask questions.
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