How can I Prepare for a New Roommate?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Roommates come and roommates go, but rent and utility bills remain constant. Sometimes, the need arises for a new roommate, possibly to replace a departing one or to make the rent payments even more affordable. There are a number of ways to prepare for a new roommate, from clearing out evidence of the old one to setting down house rules for all tenants. The transition from one roommate to another can be a stressful time for all concerned, but a little planning and openness often goes a long way.

Having a roommate can be a challenging experience.
Having a roommate can be a challenging experience.

One way to prepare for a new roommate is to reconcile the loss of an old one. Losing a long-time roommate can feel exactly like losing a good friend or watching a sibling move away from home. There is going to be a period of adjustment until you can prepare for a new roommate to replace him or her.

A new roommate will need to be accommodated in the kitchen.
A new roommate will need to be accommodated in the kitchen.

Make sure you have settled any financial obligations with the old roommate, along with any lingering ownership or storage issues. You don't want a new roommate to get caught in a battle over the living room sofa or other communal furnishings. Make sure the old roommate is truly gone before seeking a new one.

Another way to prepare for a new roommate is to meet him or her for an informal interview. This doesn't have to be a serious meeting, but you may learn something about your new roommate's habits or lifestyle. Does he smoke or drink? How does she feel about pets or children in the house? Is he an early bird or a night owl?

What are your new roommate's immediate and future goals? Could she foresee a need to move out of the apartment sooner than expected? Is he outgoing or introverted? Where does she stand politically or religiously? These are things you may want to know beforehand to avoid awkwardness later.

Some tenants prepare for a new roommate by inviting him to a housewarming party in his honor. This is a good way to break the ice and get a feel for the new dynamics a different roommate brings into the home. A housewarming party may also give your friends a chance to interact with the new roommate. This may be a good opportunity to tour the house and discuss any lingering issues over rights and personal space. Neighbors may also want to meet the new roommate, so they will recognize her when the move-in date arrives.

It is not unusual for tenants to invite a near-stranger to help share expenses, especially in larger cities where few people know each other well. One step you may want to take in order to prepare for a new roommate is a cursory background check. You don't want to invade someone's privacy without reason, but search engines may provide some public information a new roommate may not wish to provide voluntarily. Most background checks or interviews reveal little if any incriminating information, but occasionally the research will turn up a warning flag or two about a potential roommate. It is then up to you to decide what, if anything, to do with this information.

Above all, to prepare for a new roommate, try to be as open-minded as possible. She is not going to be a clone of your old roommate, good or bad, so allow her the opportunity to express her own personality. If the new roommate seems to be very reserved, don't worry if he chooses to spend more time alone in his room. If he seems to be extremely outgoing and sociable, you may have to set some boundaries yourself concerning privacy.

Comparing a new roommate to a beloved old one can only lead to feelings of resentment or disappointment, and new roommates can be very sensitive about this sort of thing. Remember that almost any roommate situation is going to be temporary, so it's better to concentrate on your own goals than to worry about someone else's lifestyle or habits.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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You should also use web sites to decide who gets which room as this is fairer than any other way and avoids arguments

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