Choosing a roommate

by Tom Simplot

May 9, 2014

Just about everyone has a few good or terrifying roommate stories.

Living with another person — even if it's your best friend or sibling — can have its challenges. Doing your research, plus a little soul searching, before choosing to co-habitate could save you a lot of trouble.

In order to find a compatible roommate, think about how you want to live and ask:

• Do I want a quiet home or a party house?

• Do I want a roommate who keeps to himself/herself or someone to hang out with?

• Do I have strong feelings about alcohol, drugs or smoking?

• Am I a "neat freak" or a slob, and how will that impact my relationship with a roommate?

• Do I have strong aversions to particular smells, foods, pets or habits?

Once you're clear on your own preferences, you're ready to start your search.

Of course, do the basic research. Good credit. Solid job history. No criminal record. Even if everything checks out on paper, make sure you agree on the other "big stuff" before you sign on the dotted line:

• Rent/bills: How much will each roommate pay and who will write the checks?

• Space: Who sleeps where? Who gets a parking space?

• Chores: Who cleans what, and how often?

• Food sharing: Will shopping and cooking be shared, or every man for himself?

• Noise: Hammer out schedules and quiet-time expectations.

• Overnight guests: Discuss the rules about guests and frequency.

• Moving out: Discuss what happens if someone decides to move.

It's a good idea to address these in a roommate agreement, which isn't legally binding but simply a written "lifestyle" agreement among tenants. Having these crucial conversations will make for a happier home.

Tom Simplot is president and CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association.