Living with roommates can be a fun experience or a total nightmare. Taking chances on a new roommate is risky and the wrong choice could have you feeling miserable in your own home. We’ve put together this guide with helpful tips on how to find a good roommate and steer clear of a share house disaster.
Ways to Find a Roommate
Finding a great roommate can take time but you can speed up the search process by casting a wide net.
Ask Friends for Recommendations
One of the best ways to find a roommate you’re likely to get along with is through word of mouth. Let friends know you’ve got a room vacant, share it on social media and ask for recommendations.
Create an Online Profile
Check out house share sites like flatmates.com.au and flatmatefinders.com.au to list your available room and roommate profile. Another option is to list an advert on a general classifieds site like gumtree in the room share section.
Now to create a great advert and roommate profile.
How to Create a Great Roommate Advert
Need help with how to write a great roommate profile and advert? We’ve got you covered.
Write an Engaging Headline
Instead of listing Room for rent in Armadale make the headline a little more catchy: Spacious, bright room for rent in Armadale.
Describe the Room for Rent and Neighbourhood
Write a detailed description of the room; furnished or unfurnished, size, storage space, private bathroom. Mention the type of property – house or apartment – and any features; pool, central heating, courtyard etc.
List benefits of living in your neighbourhood like great cafes, running trails or exciting nightlife.
Include information on the proximity to shopping centres, public transport and details about parking. Mention the number of people who’ll be sharing the home and if you have any pets.
Include the Rental Price and Bills
List the rental price for the room, the total cost of bills and how those costs are shared between roommates.
Your Ideal Roommate Is….
Describe your ideal roommate; what type of personality do they have and the type of lifestyle compatible for the home? Great roommates are respectful, reliable and friendly.
Share a Little about Yourself
Let your potential roommate know a little about you as a person beyond the basics of age, gender and what you do for work. Share some of your interests and a little insight into your usual schedule at home. You can discuss this in more detail during the interview.
End on a Good Note
End your ad with a friendly, positive conclusion. Ask applicants to let you know how you can reach them (email, phone, social media) and the best time to be in touch.
Great photos will draw attention to your advert. Before taking the shots; declutter the room, make the bed and give the house a general tidy up. Switch the ceiling lights and lamps on and open the curtains wide; lighting makes a huge difference.
Take a bunch of photos at different angles and select the ones that give the room a spacious feel. Lastly, save and upload them in the highest possible format.
Do Multiple Interviews
Interviewing roommates can be a tough process. It might be tempting to accept the first offer to get the whole thing over and done with. A word of warning: don’t.
The person you share your home with can significantly impact your life. It’s important, and totally worth it, to spend the time doing multiple flatmate interviews.
Important Points to Discuss in the Interview
Beyond financial arrangements and a house tour, discuss the lifestyle and schedule that already exists in the home.
General Personal Habits and Lifestyle
Confirm the points you made in the roommate advert about your lifestyle, schedule and what you’re looking for in a roomie.
Taking on one new roommate and soon realising you have two, the partner who’s always staying over, can cause tension. Ask about their expectation of having someone regularly stay overnight.
Confirm the weekly rent and what bills it does / doesn’t include. Is a bond required? Discuss the current schedule of rent due dates and how you’d like to receive payment; cash or EFT.
Does the New Roomie Plan to Bring Furniture?
Extra stuff can be a bonus or create a clutter problem. Be clear on the amount of available space and let them know of anything the house needs; they may be able to contribute.
Use of Shared Bathroom
Shared bathrooms can become the stuff of roommate nightmares. During the interview, lay down the house rules for bathrooms. Discuss your bathroom schedule, how their schedule could work in and the expected level of cleanliness.
Factors to Consider When Deciding
- Are Your Lifestyles / Personalities a Good Match? Even if you don’t plan to be best mates with your roomie, it’s critical their daily schedule and general lifestyle compliments yours.
- Do You Have Similar Levels of Cleanliness? When ‘clean’ doesn’t mean the same thing to both roommates, frustration, anger and flatmate breakups follow.
- Are There Any Shared Common Interests? A few common interests can really increase the good vibes of a roommate relationship.
- Is a Friendship at Stake If It Doesn’t Work Out? It may seem hard to believe but some of the best friends make the most terrible roommates. Is it worth potentially ruining a friendship if living together goes south?
Do a Background Check
Don’t ask for a potential roommates’ blood type and mother’s maiden name (creepy) but do conduct some basic background checks. You’ll be living with this person; you want to know your possessions—and rental payments—aren’t at risk! Here’s what to request for a background check.
- Basic personal information: name, current address, and current living situation
- Contact details of previous landlord or roommate
- Two personal references you can contact
- Name and phone number of current employer
You can also check the public information available on their social media profiles for any red flags.
Sign a Roommate Agreement
It’s wise to ask your new roomie to sign a common law roommate agreement. A common law agreement is more flexible than a Residential Tenancy Agreement because flatmates can agree to any terms. Hammering out clear ground rules for roommates right from the beginning will stop small issues escalating into all-out war. Cover off points of possible conflict, including:
Personal and public spaces
It should be a given that bedrooms are off limits, but shared spaces such as living areas or common bathrooms, can easily become a point of disagreement. Being specific about these spaces early on will help make for a friendlier living arrangement.
You didn’t move out just to play “mum” and cleaning after somebody else’s mess can be especially maddening. Using a calendar or cleaning checklist to help determine a cleaning schedule will help with splitting responsibilities in a fair way. And don’t forget to agree to splitting the cost of a bond cleaning service when you do move out.
Weekly bills can quickly add up when it comes to a shared living arrangement. A budget for groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies should all be discussed in your agreement.
Guests and entertaining
You don’t want to be a party-pooper, but the late night parties on a Monday night are a no-go. Keep entertaining hours to a minimum on weekdays, making room for fun on the weekends.
You can download a flatmate agreement template from FlatMates.com.au