A roommate isn’t just someone with whom you split the rent and utility bills. When you find a roommate, you need to make sure you suit each other. After all, living with another person can be fantastic, or it can be a nightmare: A sink that’s constantly full of dirty dishes, a housemate who won’t pay his fair share, and even dangerous situations if your roommate invites strangers home or leaves the door unlocked.
The best way to look for a roommate, in Philadelphia or anywhere, is to ask friends and family for recommendations. Your best friend from college might know someone who is also looking for a place, for example. Getting recommendations from someone you trust is a way to pick a roommate who has already been vetted, as it’s unlikely that someone will suggest you live with an untrustworthy or irresponsible person.
Your next-best option is to head online. Craigslist is the best-known resource, and it really is great if you’re looking for someone to share a space with. You can search based on where in Philadelphia you want to live, the amount of rent you want to pay, and the size of the apartment you want. You can also create your own ad seeking a roomie.
Oodle is another place to look for a roomie and apartment in Philly. Or on Roommate Click, people from Philadelphia post a short description of themselves, what they are looking for in a roommate, and what they can afford to pay for rent each month.
If you create your own ad online, be as specific as possible. State the neighborhood you want to live in or already do live in, the cost of rent, and what you can afford for utilities. Also include details about yourself, such as your profession, whether you smoke or not, and if you want to live with pets.
Get to Know the Person
Moving in with a roommate is a pretty big commitment. You’re entering a binding, legal contract with another person. It’s not something to rush into. Spend time getting to know a potential roomie before you sign a lease together. Go out on roommate dates, such as to a city park such as Rittenhouse Square or Washington Square, or to a nearby coffee shop. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions on your “dates,” such as “have you ever missed a utility bill?” or “do you always pay rent on time?” Ask your potential roommate about cleaning habits, bedtimes, and social expectations — for example, ask if your roomie plans on having people over frequently or if he or she expects the house to be a quiet zone.
Create an Agreement
Write down everything you and your housemate agree upon. For example, if you’re going to split the utilities equally, put that in writing. Also write down any agreements having to do with care of your apartment. Divide up household chores if that’s a concern for you. Both of you should sign the agreement and keep it with your lease. Make sure your name and your roommate’s name are on the lease, too. You don’t want to end up solely responsible for the apartment if your living situation doesn’t work out. You also don’t want to run the risk of your roommate asking you to leave before the lease is over.
It can be tough to find that perfect fit for your apartment, but with some careful vetting, you should be able to find your match. With a little luck, you might even gain a good friend.
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