Hindsight is a bitch. I guess if I’m not learning, I’m not living. A little over two years ago I found myself roommate less. I was completely happy for my roommate, who is also a very good friend, because she was moving in with her then-boyfriend. Happy to note she is happily married to said then-boyfriend and the mother of two of the cutest girls ever!
To be honest, this was my second time with roommates on Craigslist. However, this time I was the one seeking a roommate. Last time I was the who was using CL and let’s just say I lived in a swanky little spot on the Grid, but that CL roommate was living off of me paying 85% of the rent! But lets not bring up bad memories. If my life was a story that first experience would have been the foreshadowing moment.
As any roommate-less person would do, I did the whole interviews and meet and greets with a few potential roommates. I didn’t have much time, in no part thanks to myself, so I didn’t put too much thought into it. I was really looking for a female, who didn’t stink, scare me, or a have a weird affinity for animals.
It should be known, the room I was renting out was a gem for Grid standards – on the Grid, two full bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, one car garage, and a washer and dryer in-unit. Yes, you read that all correctly!
After a week or so of going through the motions of finding a
roommate I selected the one.
So here is what I learned about this experience and wisdom I hope to impart on anyone in a like situation:
1. Speak with their previous landlord/roommates – At the time this seemed real awkward, but really it bit me the ass. At first all the stories she told about her previous landlord/roommate made me think he was a little neurotic, but after living with her I realize why he acted the way he did. For example, hiring a maid for the entire household and splitting the fees, because her standard for cleaning is well a few Clorox wipes and you’re done. Don’t’ be bashful, call that person they used to live with and get all the details. You will be sharing close quarters and you better get a good understanding of this person and how they live!
2. Not everyone has the common sense gene – I can’t tell you how many times said roommate has left the FRONT door unlocked after her boozy nights OR on a regular boring day. Or, left the stove on after she attempted some Pinterest recipe. Once in a blue moon would be fine, but when I can’t even keep count of them that’s a problem. Not to mention my safety and that our house could have burned down, no biggie though.This one is a gamble with the person you select. You can’t really get to know this until you live with them. But if it seems their gene is missing, such as my Roommates, don’t be bashful about calling them out on their stupidity. Safety is important, first and foremost!
3. Ask about their cleaning standards – Sounds invasive, but do it! Some people think cleaning is not a necessity. Others, like myself, tend to be on the other spectrum. I’m not a clean freak, but I do wipe up crumbs if I spill, I do clean the bathroom when it starts to look dingy, and I do the annoying chores such as vacuum the carpet, even though I don’t want too! We all have different standards of clean (which is one huge thing I learned in this living situation) and they need to be identified if you are living with a complete stranger. You might also come to find out that her ex-boyfriend had to teach her how to clean her bathroom (I’m not lying, its like they made a date out of it) and that she grew up with a maid, so just be ready if that’s the case. If being clean and courteous in common spaces isn’t their thing, then you can either set up a monthly cleaning schedule (and trash can rules) as I did or hire a maid and split the cost (I wish I would have thought of that sooner, damn)!
4. Are you a screamer? – This was never a problem, until what I can only assume was her attempt to keep make her ex-boyfriend her boyfriend again. Her theatrics were sub par, but it also lead to a really awkward text convo about asking her to play music while they did their thing. Again, being self aware isn’t that hard…or at least I thought. If you can’t do that, then be courteous and just play music when you do the deed!
5. Being open & communicating – This type of living situation can get a little sticky at times, so you have to communicate your opinions and also be ready to hear theirs in return. I’m sure I’m not a perfect roommate, but she cannot say that I was not fully considerate and paid my bills. But I’m sure there are small things that irritate her, like when she said I don’t load the dishwasher to her standard – if this is my only fault, then I’m pretty sure I’m winning at life! Just get it out there, because it will fester and grow into something if you don’t work through it at the beginning.
6. Decorating – Oh thank you Pinterest, my roommate wouldn’t know how to decorate without you and your painted toilet paper rolls and Dollar Tree frames with printouts from the Internet. If you care about how your house is decorated say something. If you’re like me and don’t really care, snicker about said decorations and laugh at them with your friends like any real mature adult! This is definitely one that depends on each person, but you either go with it if you aren’t willing to contribute or set standards if you’re both going to go at it as a team.
7. Treat them like a kid if necessary – This is what I had to do. I had to enact a once a month cleaning order, which we would switch off months. Then I had to enact a (outside) trash system so that one person, ME, wasn’t always doing it. I was to set out the trash cans and she was to put them away, I’d say she did it about 60% of the time. I guess a D isn’t too bad right. After her first month cleaning, I learned she thought Clorox wipes were acceptable ways of cleaning. She would just do a quick once-over on the shared living spaces and call it a day. It was only after a few months of this did I question her cleaning technique. After calling her out (again), she finally got the hang of it…well, as good as she was going to get. Apparently some people just weren’t taught how to clean (rub until its not dirty, right?), so you might have to guide them in the right direction…just like a kid!
8. Visitors – This is another thing that you should discuss when interviewing potential candidates. Are they currently in a relationship, because if they are, then that means you’ll have 2 additional roommates at times. Which isn’t a problem if you know that going into the situation. But beyond romantical situations, discuss friends and who keys will be given too. Or you might be sleeping and hear male voices and a female voice that isn’t your roommate – come to find out she was drunk somewhere and gave her key to a friend and let her do whatever she wanted. Thank goodness I have a lock on my door, but again – my safety is what is important and she apparently fails to remember this! Be contentious with your visitors, and even more cautious with who has a key to the shared living space!
9. Thank Anyone Who’s Listened to You Complain – I did this on SO many occasions, I realized I needed to stop talking about it/her. So, thank you to my friends and family that would let me vent and would then sympathize with the shenanigans of said roommate. Your friends and family love you, but they can only take sooo much…
You may read this and think, why didn’t you just move. Well, because, let’s be honest, my home is a gem for DT. The amenities, location, and cost are what every Grid Kid are looking for. I wasn’t going to give up this spot, because I made a poor decision in a roommate. Nope, I just had to make sure I guided her to do what was necessary to living in a common area. Some friends would say “I don’t get how you live with someone you don’t like.” My response was, pardon my frankness, I don’t respect her that much, therefore I don’t really care what she does…with the exception of the leanliness of our home. Other than that, I could give two shits what happens in her life, unless it directly affects me or my living situation. I wasn’t looking for a friend when I went seeking a roommate, it could have been a bonus, but that isn’t how the cookie crumbled…
During this two year stint of living together, I learned a good amount about myself – I apparently tend to be cleaner than the average bear (sorry college roommates, this was not the case during those years), I used complaining about said roommate as a way to vent to EVERYONE, and I have no problem communicating anything that I don’t agree with even if it feels awkward. I will say, at least I picked a roommate that paid the bills, in full and on time. It just came at the cost of being a mom of a 31 year old woman!
If you find yourself about to post a listing on Craigslist for
a roommate, proceed with caution…