Renting in NYC is ridiculously expensive. It is not uncommon for city dwellers to continue to live with roommates well past their twenties. Renting a room is cheaper than going it alone, and sometimes it can even boost your odds of avoiding paying a brokers fee, but only if you opt to live with someone who has already secured an apartment. In most cases people find roommates by networking within their social or work circles. But what happens when you opt to live with a complete stranger? Below are some tips to keep you safe and sane.
If you’re potentially going to live with a complete stranger, it’s best to do due diligence. Google them. Pull up their social media to get an idea of what they may be like. Use a background check website like BeenVerified if you have to. Also if possible, talk to their previous landlords or roommates to find out if they paid rent on time or had any other issues. Meet them in person, whether they’re coming to view the apartment or arrange to meet in a public place if you feel uncomfortable. If they can’t meet you in person, it’s a red flag that your potential roomie might be scamming you.
One you’ve established your new roomie isn’t an axe murderer, and pays their rent on time, you’ll want to assess their habits and lifestyle. Are they night owls or early risers? Do they have a significant other that will be visiting all the time? Do you have opposite schedules? Are they messy? You’ll want to figure this out before hand and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Figure out how you’re going to divide finances.
Splitting expenses 50/50 is the easiest solution and best way to avoid conflict. It is also important to be clear about who will be responsible for sending the payment to the appropriate party. Figure out who is the most responsible and task them with payment duties, or evenly divvy up the bills between the both of you. Try using apps like Venmo or Facebook Messenger for payments in-between one another. Payments tend to go through instantly where as a bank takes a few days. Venmo is key as you can pay with Debit and Credit as opposed to only debit.
Furniture & Decoration Decisions.
Assess the amount of furniture and what kind of furniture each of you will be bringing (if any). The last thing you want is two of everything or find out at the last minute that your furniture won’t fit. Does your new roomie have a flare for decorating or can build stuff? If so, utilize it. Will you need to get new furniture? Collaborate on what you envision your living space to look like. If you have styles that clash, compromise and figure out a way you both can get what you want.
A stranger isn’t going to be privy to your personality quirks, likes and dislikes, so if something is bothering you, just politely bring it to their attention. It’s important to be honest about what you expect from your roommate (and what they expect from you), especially in the beginning.