Before you invest the time to find a roommate in NYC, put together a list of everything you want to check. Asking lots of questions up front can be time-consuming, yes. And doing something like a background check can be a little intimidating at first, true. But think about it. You are about to open the door wide open, hand over a set of keys, provide easy access to all your stuff, and place your financial well-being in the hands of a complete and total stranger.
Yeah, sounds like a good time to be thorough.
- Safety First: Do A Background Check
Running a background check on a roommate is street smart. Not everyone who’s gotten into serious trouble in the past runs around tatted up with a gravelly voice and a leather jacket. Just look at politicians these days. Sure, they smile nice, and they’ve got pleasant things to say. But you wouldn’t trust at least half of them to babysit a basket of dirty laundry, let alone have access to your iPhone while you’re not around.
- Finances Up Front: Credit Check
The harsh reality is that your roommate’s credit score is going to affect your ability to sign a lease. Having a great roommate can go south fast if you discover later that they have bad credit and you can’t renew. Next thing you know, you’re moving into a lousy room in a bad part of town with your super sweet, mired in credit debt roommate. Who will totally take you out to dinner to make up for it if you just spot them twenty dollars.
- Finances For The Future: Employment Check
Just because someone has good credit doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. It’s a tough economy, and you might be tempted to cut someone a break. Especially if they have a plan that sounds good. But do yourself a favor and get two paystubs, or at the bare minimum, an acceptance letter for a new job with the salary right there, plain as can be. If you don’t, you could end up stuck shouldering their part of the rent on top of your own in a matter of months.
- Furniture Wars: Avoid A Broken Home
There are two ways to get tripped up by furniture and appliances: Not having enough, and having way, way too much. The latter is easier to bump into than you might think. Rooms in NYC are small. A couch is going to occupy a considerable amount of real estate. Picture this. Your roommate shows up on move-in day, dazzling you with their sunny disposition and eye-catching organizational skills. You both suddenly realize there isn’t enough room for the combined might of your couches. Your roommate is now stuck trying to find storage last minute or selling it fast at a lost. You are so losing your BFF card over this. The moral of the story is, get furniture dialed in before you move in.
- Conflict Is Ultimately Driven By Resource Mismanagement: AKA Food
Some people think it’s hilarious when other people name their sandwiches. MIA leftovers and filthy cooking areas are one of the first places roommates discover just how well they don’t get along. Lay the ground rules down for food and cooking during the interview. And if it gets really bad, start making sandwiches with expired anchovies and excessive abuse of hollandaise. People will steal your food less if you give them the impression you’re a terrible cook.
- Parking Meters: The Unsung Hero Of Utility Bills
Where is your roommate going to park their car? How accessible is parking? Does your roommate have other means of transportation, like a bicycle or moped? If so, where are those going to go? Don’t make the mistake of omitting parking problems if you know it’s tough in your neighborhood and your prospective roommate fails to ask. Head off the problem before it starts. Get a clear idea of how many wheels are involved and where they’re going to call home.
- It’s Better Together . . . Until It’s Not: Guests
You’re roommates great. Wish you could say the same about their entourage. Mixed social gatherings, girly hordes, rambling bro-packs. Overnight guests that never seem to leave. People popping in and out, slamming doors, eating your food, taking your parking spot. The number of ways that guests can mess with your real estate relationship is literally without end. Check with your roommate beforehand to get a sense of how much socializing they plan to base out of the apartment.
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