Hey guys! I’ve got great guest post for you today from Vanessa over at Random Thoughts & Acronyms (now Vanessa’s Money) and she’s gonna talk to you a bit about her experience living with roommates and subletting suites in her place to make some extra income. Take it away Vanessa!
Hello! My name is Vanessa and I write a bit about everything over at Random Thoughts & Acronyms. I just turned 24 and will be graduating with a BA in Economics in December from McGill. I’ve lived in Montreal pretty much my whole life and am climbing the walls trying to get out of here. Jessica asked me a few weeks ago to write a post about roommates because, as I’ve lived with 9 different roommates in 5 apartments in the 27 (non-consecutive) months that I’ve been living on my own, I’m able to offer tips and advice for her readers.
Living with roommates can be the best or worst experience of your life – depending on where you live and who you choose to live with. When I first moved out on my own, I posted a “room wanted” ad on craigslist and someone answered straight away asking me to come and see the bedroom he had for rent. As naive as I was, I knew two things, which I strongly urge you to remember: 1- make sure you bring a friend with you when visiting a stranger’s apartment and 2- never hand over a deposit in cash.
After I moved in, I slowly adjusted to the ways of the world – like it or not, when you live with roommates (I had 3), you all become a household. Chores need to be done, shower schedules coordinated and, above all else, you must communicate with the others to avoid a situation like this one:
(Vanessa is cooking)
Roommate: Excuse me! What are you doing?!
Vanessa: I’m cooking…
Roommate: That’s my frying pan
Vanessa: I thought we shared dishes…
Roommate: That frying pan was $150!
Vanessa: So… We don’t share dishes?
Roommate: I need to meditate!
To this day, I have no idea whether we shared dishes or not. I didn’t own any so I just used whatever was in the house and no one, aside from that one time, complained. In retrospect, I was probably a bad roommate.
Lesson #1: Ask questions when you’re not sure of something. Keep to your shelf in the pantry/fridge. Do your chores.
A few months after moving into that place, I decided to get a huge apartment of my own and rent the rooms out for profit. This is can be an appealing option if you know how to do it right. I rented a 3 bedroom apartment for $750 + utilities in a quasi-sketchy neighbourhood and charged my two roommates each $400 utilities included. This allowed me to take an unpaid internship while not depleting my savings too much.
Unfortunately, I was inexperienced in roommate choosing. I wrote a very detailed ad explaining all the household rules and what I was looking for in a roommate (I was, of course, assuming that people read ads. How wrong I was). The first girl who came to my open house seemed really level-headed and I told her that she could move in that same weekend. When she moved in, it took all of 20 minutes – she had one duffel bag of clothes. Over the next four months I found out that she was a runaway who was essentially homeless before coming to my place. She paid rent with whatever money “she could get” and was always, always late in paying. When I tried to kick her out or sublet my apartment, she adamantly refused to leave – even going so far as to tell perspective subletors that she came with the apartment. On top of that, I never saw her sleep. Or leave the apartment. And she would peep through the window that connected our rooms at all hours of the day and night.
Lesson #2: Don’t assume that people read your room for rent ad. Always ask where they get their money from and a little bit about their life. Don’t rent to homeless people.
Right now, I live with my boyfriend – that’s a whole different kind of roommate right there! In general, I don’t think that I could ever live sans roommate but I’ve compiled a handy Pros/Cons list to help you know if having a roommate is right for you:
Things I love about living with roommates:
· There’s always somebody home (I hate being home alone) but, since you have your own room, you are still able to enjoy the privacy that comes with living on your own.
· If you make friends with your roommates, you will always have someone available to lend a helping hand or a friendly ear.
· Access to more stuff: clothes, accessories, make-up, DVDs, CDs, books.
· Reduced costs, both in rent/utilities but also taxis/delivery charges from the grocery stor.
Things I hate about living with roommates:
· Someone will touch your things.
· Sometimes you want to be really alone to scream/sing your heart out but, you know… somebody’s always around.
· Your bad habits/flaws will get pointed out and you will start to notice bad habits/flaws of your roommates. This can become extremely irritating.
· Someone always “forgets” that rent is due.
Do you live with roommates? What have your experiences been like?
(Image: Inha Leex Hale/flickr)