So you’re squirreling away toilet paper in your bedroom because you’ve bought it for the last six months and your roommate never buys it and you will not budge no matter how many times you forget the roll in your room. Sound familiar?
I currently live with two great roommates who I met through craigslist, and while I consider myself extremely lucky to have a wonderful home life, I don’t think it’s by accident. I just counted how many craigslist roommates I’ve had over my lifetime … it’s 25. Granted, I’ve lived in two group houses which partially accounts for the large number, but it’s still a lot. And I’ve learned a thing or two over the years.
I’m the girl with the crazy roommate stories—the obsessive eater roommate who insisted that our answering machine message be in French, the narcissistic roommate who ruined my pots and left a permanent indentation of her butt on the couch, the ditzy roommate who worked at a topless bar and lost her pet chinchilla in the vents.
The following is my hard-earned advice.
5. Three is the magic number. I think having at least two roommates is key. It creates a less intense dynamic and if one roommate sucks, you can vent about it to the other one. Also, say worse case scenario your roommate skips town and leaves you stuck with an extra rent payment. If there are two of you, that’d be a little less of a burden.
4. You’re not looking for your best friend. In fact, you don’t want your roommate to be your best friend. That’s a drama disaster waiting to happen. Do you think the person will be pretty quiet, clean, considerate and responsible? That’s really all that matters.
3. Create a chore chart. This might sound dorky and unnecessary, but it’s a great way to prevent future resentment and frustration. The chart doesn’t have to be super complex, but it should cover stuff like taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, mopping the kitchen floor and vacuuming. My roommates and I switch chores on a weekly basis.
2. Take time with your ad. Your craigslist ad should give a good amount of information and have some personality. I write three sections of an ad: the apartment building, the apartment and the roommates–about a paragraph each. By taking the time to put in details, you’ll be bombarded with fewer questions. Having an ad that has personality will have a greater chance of attracting the right match. For our ads, we write that The Bachelor is our guilty pleasure, and we’ll often get responses from people saying they too love The Bachelor. It’s a small thing, but it can really give you a sense of the person on the other end of the email.
1. Think ahead. If you don’t listen to any other piece of advice I’ve given you, listen to this one. Post your craigslist ad six to eight weeks in advance. You will not get nearly as much interest as you will if you post it two to four weeks in advance, but those who respond are generally much more responsible and put together.