Posted Feb 28, 2012
How to: Apartment Searching with Roommates
Lucky you, you already have a friend (or significant other) you want to live with. While this saves you from lots of awkward roommate interviews, there are a few other things to keep in mind when looking to live with someone.
Whether this person is a significant other, best friend, or casual acquaintance also looking to save on rent, there are a few key items to agree upon before searching for apartments:
- Rent Budget. Let’s say you work down in the FiDi and your potential roommate is a starving artist. Potential sitcom plots aside, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you may be able to afford totally different amounts of rent. It’s best for each person to decide a range for rent where they would be financially comfortable before you start looking at luxury lofts or beaten-down in-laws. Yes, money has to come before deal-breakers. If you or one of your roommate’s is straight out of college or without a job, you might want to think about separate leases, for which they may need a co-signer. Get all the financial issues out of the way ahead of time.
- Deal-breakers. I think after financial considerations, developing your list of deal-breakers together is so important — these should truly be items that would make you walk away form a potential listing, no matter how otherwise great or cheap. You should have no more that four, so if there are two of you, each person picks two. For more than two roommates, it may make sense for each person to make a ranked list and develop the groups’ deal-breakers together.
- Keep an open search. In cities with some older housing stock (like SF or NY) it’s common to have a double parlor or formal dining room turn into a bedroom. If you’re having trouble finding a space, look at range of bedroom options to spot those with room to upsize or downsize to the right amount of bedrooms.
- Divvy up space and rent. Let’s say you’ve found the perfect place, but the rooms are not equal-sized and/or your roommates are only able to pay a certain amount. It’s best to measure bedroom space and price bedrooms accordingly. If space is not the issue but one of the bedrooms is more desirable (gets better light, is less noisy, etc) you may want to think about pricing that bedroom higher. At the very least, it’s good to have an idea of how much each room’s rent will be, and then draw straws to see who picks first. It may be more important to some people to pay the least amount of rent than to have “the best” room.
What do you think, Lovely searchers? What tips do you have about apartment hunting with roommates?