Two of my single, divorced friends have recently talked about getting a roommate
. These aren’t young adults just out of college or looking for jobs; one is late thirties and the other, my age – 50+. Personally, I find the idea rather horrifying. Share my space with another person to whom I’m not married or related? Yikes! Still in the process of adjusting to being newly single and living alone, I can’t imagine adapting to that kind of arrangement with a stranger. I began to flash back to roomie situations in college.Don’t Touch My Food
Junior year in college one of my best friends from high school and I decided to get an apartment together with another dorm-mate we barely knew. I remember my friend and I had to teach “Judy” daily living skills like washing dishes because she had always had servants to take care of her and hadn’t a clue. Judy also didn’t grasp the concept of buying her own food and not eating other’s stuff. Then her boyfriend moved in…Soon after, my friend’s boyfriend moved in. Keep in mind – three bedrooms and one bathroom.
After a couple weeks of heavy tension, my friend accused me of eating her bacon. I hadn’t, but this argument escalated and I’m sure it was fueled by our frustrations at the living arrangements and lack of rules. To prove my point, I threw her package of bacon off the balcony. I’m not proud of that lack of maturity, but at the time it felt justified and was kind of funny.How Do You Make it Work?
How do you avoid potential food-stealing and bacon-tossing incidents when finding a grown-up roomie? If I were forced to endure the situation, here are some things I’d be clear on:
• Motivation – Figure out what’s motivating the possibility of a roommate. Is it to save money or afford a bigger mortgage than you can handle alone? Are you looking for company? (Find some new pals – less hassle!)
• Time-frame – Would this be temporary? Maybe you want to pay for some home renovations (my younger pal’s plan). Have a set time in mind, like 6 months to a year.
• Screen carefully
– Don’t just pop an ad on Craig’s List without first checking word-of-mouth or referral from friends or family members. You may be less likely to end up with Freddy Krueger.
• Set ground rules before the search – You want to have a solid list of requirements and rules in mind before you start interviewing candidates. It’s your place – your rules.
• Be clear about rent/utilities expectations – Carefully determine what you need in rent/expenses to justify the cons of having a roommate.No Movie/Pizza Nights
If a friend or family member becomes your roomie, you may share social activities. But with a stranger, you aren’t necessarily going to be buddies. You are simply sharing a space and expenses. Be clear that you both have your own lives and you aren’t likely to hang out at meals or get a pizza and watch a movie every Friday night. Sure, you might chat over a glass of wine, but this isn’t a social relationship.What about the “Mature” Demographic?
As I said, my friend and I who are in our fifties and divorced are admittedly pretty set in our ways. She also has dogs – many dogs. But when I suggested she think about renting out the bottom floor (there are three levels) to a roommate, it didn’t sound as bad. Ideally, if someone worked a different schedule, they’d rarely even see each other.
Me? I’m not even going to consider the roomie idea for myself at this point. These days, bacon is too expensive to toss…