Taking the Next Steps: Roomies?

Tips for Having a Roommate

If you find yourself in young adulthood struggling to independently afford rent, you’re not alone. In the city of Charlotte, NC, rent averages about $1,284 and only continues to rise. As a result, adults choosing to live with roommates is more common than ever. At TNT Moving Systems, whether you’re making the first move into your first shared house, or moving from one apartment to the next with your roommates, we’ve got you covered on how to take the next steps to become roommates and officially move in together.

 

How common is it to have roommates as an adult?
U.S. adult households with roommates in metropolitan areas average about 30.2%, with the overall percentage of adults with roommates has been on the rise over or even doubling in some cities over the past few years. In 2000, Charlotte’s percentage of roommates was 19.9%, and in 2016 rose to 36.4%. Pew Research recently found that a majority (52%) of young adults (ages 18-29) live with their parents, a peak number in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

While the number of young adults living with their parents has become higher since the onset of COVID-19, overall, it’s not uncommon for young adults to live with their parents into their 20’s or temporarily move home post-college. With sky-high rents and ever-increasing costs of living, roommates can make it possible for young adults to live in high-demand, metropolitan areas. Moreover, there can be serious advantages to having roommates, whether they’re friends or a romantic partner, especially before the big financial leap to an independent mortgage.

 

Before you decide to move in together, assess your compatibility as roommates.
Good roommates are hard to find! It can be difficult to truly know a person until you move in together, especially if you’ve only hung out for short periods, in social or work settings, or in some cases, have never even met in person! However, by knocking out tough conversations beforehand and being honest in your communication with one another, you can enter into a roommate situation that works for both of you.

Sharing living spaces will certainly determine both parties’ tolerances for each other’s differences. Before you take the leap of signing a lease together, you may want to consider the following:

 

Privacy and noise
With a roommate, there will be less privacy for both of you, whether that’s a good or bad thing. Typically your bedroom will become your one space that’s your own. If you’re not clear with setting boundaries on personal space from the beginning, even your bedroom can become an issue. If you need lots of personal time and solitude, express those needs from the get-go; having a roommate may not be for everyone.

While roommates can be great for socializing, there’s also a huge potential for noise complications. Depending on your lifestyles, work schedules, and overall tolerance, noise issues can become a big issue between roommates who see differently on how much noise is appropriate. Habits extend beyond waking hours – you’ll also have to your sleeping schedules and preferences are similar. Is their routine that they wake early, work out and blend a smoothie at 6am, while you prefer to sleep in until noon? If one of you prefers to party into the wee hours of the morning, or is simply a loud walker and talker, then you risk disturbing someone’s quiet or sleep time and creating a huge issue. Finding a roommate with a similar work schedule, comparable noise levels, and sleep preferences can ensure a smoother roommate relationship.

 

Cleanliness and tolerance for mess
If you’re a self-proclaimed neat freak that can’t stand the dishes sitting in the sink for a few days, and your roommate is more of a free spirit that doesn’t get stressed over a bit of a mess, then there will be some need to find common ground before moving in together. People who are one extreme or the other likely will not change just because they move in with another person; it’s better to be honest about who you are as a housemate, rather than constantly have tension and stress surrounding chores and upkeep.

Living with another person can also be a great opportunity to split chores and cleaning. However, splitting chores will only work well if others are held accountable for doing their part, or if expectations are clearly communicated. One person doesn’t want to feel like they’re doing all of the grunt work, and communal spaces should be cared for by all inhabitants. It’s also important to discuss what completing a chore actually means, or what someone’s definition of clean is (e.g. doing the dishes – does it mean just putting the dishes in the dishwasher and running it, or completely putting the dishes away? Be thorough in communicating what you each expect, and be willing to compromise!).

 

Establish policies on pets, allergies, children, partners, and houseguests
Pets, children, partners, and allergies can be huge breaking points for roommates who don’t have similar expectations of a shared space. While circumstances and lifestyles can change at any point during a lease, it’s important to plan for the hypotheticals and communicate ideal outcomes with potential roommates.

Whether you have existing pets moving with you into the new place, or if one person may plan to welcome a new pet into the family, it’s important that both roommates have discussed their preferences on pets before moving in together. Pets may only reside in one person’s bedroom, but they will still involve the roommate, as they’re living in a shared space (i.e. pets can bring an expectation of shared maintenance between roommates, additional noise or smell, or simply break an agreement of no pets).

If you’re highly allergic to cats or have, say, a mild peanut allergy, allergies can be a life-threatening or huge quality-of-life impact for people with severe allergies. If one roommate decides to bring those allergens into the shared home, even if it’s in the privacy of their own bedroom, allergens spread through the air and affect both roommates. Be respectful of one another’s allergies by communicating what they are and how you will plan to deal with them.

Moreover, as roommates, you’ll want to decide what each of your understandings is regarding children, romantic partners, and houseguests. A two-bedroom apartment shared between two roommates may not be an ideal space to have or host children at. Some roommates do not want guests staying the night or using communal spaces. Communicating how the space will be used and how you plan to respect one another’s house rules is a very important step in determining if you will be compatible roommates.

 

Communal space/items versus private/personal items
Determine ahead of time what you plan to share, and what is private per each person. Food especially can be a big point of contention; there’s nothing like resentment building up after your roommate takes your last Pop Tart, when you never agreed to share snacks. If you each have a bathroom, it may need to be spelled out that guests should not use the other roommate’s bathroom.

 

Background checks
This may sound like an extreme, but if you don’t know the person you’re moving in with, then you need to do your due diligence to check the applicant’s references – especially past landlords. A roommate may have a history of frequently quitting jobs or being fired, or may not be reliable about making payments. Not only could a roommate not paying their part of the rent and leave you with an unexpected bill, but it could negatively impact your credit score and ability to lease in future spaces.

 

You’re ready to sign a lease – now what?
Yours, Mine, or Ours? Deciding where to live with your roommate.
Before moving in together, your first question will likely be: where do we want to live? If one of you already has suitable space, or is stuck in a lease or mortgage, there may be a financial benefit to one of you moving into the existing home. However, many friends or couples can find it easier to move into a new space altogether, since it will be a neutral space. There won’t be any need to cram other people’s belongings into one current home, or have to navigate accommodating new house rules and home-style preferences.

 

Discuss legalities of paying rent, utilities, and other items. Consider a contract for the fees that can put you at risk.
The most obvious benefit of having a roommate is the ability to split the cost of rent and utilities. With a roommate, you may be able to afford a larger apartment, or live in a high-demand part of town than you could if you were trying to pay for it by yourself. Some roommates also split other costs of living together, like groceries, gas, or cleaning products.

If one roommate owns a house, and you choose to move in, in some cases, rent and utilities can just be paid directly to the owner without a third party payment system or to the roommate whose name is on the utilities. But, keeping track of your payments, whether it’s through a bank, checks, or Venmo, as well as ensuring that you’ve signed a lease with the payment expectations drawn out can protect you legally. Avoid cash payments or non-binding conversations that don’t leave a paper trail to protect yourself as a renter and a roommate.

 

Moving in with a roommate: Organizing & Packing
Keep communication open on space, furniture, and communal items.
If you’re moving into your first apartment with a roommate, diving headfirst into purchasing everything you need in your new space can be overwhelming and likely just not financially possible. Discuss the square footage of the apartment, decide what spaces and items are communal, and pack accordingly. If space is limited in the kitchen, but neither of you like to share cooking utensils, you will need to plan ahead for how to store those items or designate pantry space. If you both own a couch but there’s only room for one couch in the living room, then one person will have to compromise.

Basically, open communication on packing and moving is essential! It’s much easier to sort, donate and sell items before a move, than it is to have both roommates show up on moving day with nowhere to put excess items, or worse, realizing that neither of you brought an essential item and have to go purchase it after an exhausting move-in day.

 

How far out should you schedule a moving company?
As soon as you know where you’re moving, we recommend booking your movers. If possible, the best time to book is 4 to 8 weeks before your moving day.

 

Move-in day schedule
Consider whether you and your roommate want to move in on the same day or move in on different days. It may be chaotic to have all roommates moving in on the same day, with lack of space, traffic of movers, or confusion of sorting boxes. If one or both of you are using a moving company, you’ll want to ensure you’ve communicated the date and time each moving company is planning to arrive, especially if there’s limited parking.

 

Book TNT Moving Systems for your next move!
Whether you move in with a romantic partner, a long-time friend, or a stranger, there’s no way to guarantee that you will be a good roommate match. By discussing expectations, constantly communicating through every step of the process, and overall being willing to adapt and accommodate, you can have a better chance of creating a great co-habitation experience.

Choose TNT Moving Systems for your upcoming move! If you’re taking the exciting leap of living with a roommate, or you and your roommate are simply packing up to move into the next place together, TNT Moving Systems can work with one or both parties to move you into your new home! Give us a call today at (704) 523-1455.

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