On the hunt for a roommate? Choosing to live with another person is a big commitment, and one that requires a bit of luck and intuition to get right. Someone might be a lovely person to be around but a not-so-lovely person to live with. Others might show signs right away that living with them would be less than ideal. Of course, plenty of people out there do make fabulous roommates, but you’ve got to know how to spot them.
Here’s the thing about a bad roommate: You don’t have to be friends with them, but you can’t escape them either. And if sharing your home with someone you don’t particularly like doesn’t sound appealing, you’ll have to be able to suss out ahead of time if a potential roommate is bad news. Avoid putting yourself in an unsavory situation by looking out for these 10 signs of a bad roommate.
Their old roommate is moving out under mysterious circumstances
My last roommate situation didn’t work out, and in hindsight, I should have known that would happen before I even signed the lease. I met my old roommate off of Craigslist, and the day I came by to see the apartment I asked her why her old roommate was moving out. Her answer was vague and noncommittal; she simply said that they had stopped talking to each other out of the blue one day, even though she hadn’t done anything wrong. It was suspicious, and looking back, a major red flag. If a potential roommate is unwilling to tell you the circumstances behind a former contentious roommate situation, it might be because it was their fault.
Their ad is incomplete or full of errors
Finding a roommate online is a lot like finding a date online. Look for clues in their opening message that suggest what kind of person they are. Grammar and spelling mistakes, erratic sentences, or failure to provide key information about the house or apartment are all signs that they might not be willing to put a lot of effort into the things that are important.
Their home is messy
If you’re looking to rent a room in someone’s existing home, you’ll be able to tell a lot about who they are just by looking at how they treat the space. If the pictures they include in their ad show a messy, cluttered home, or if you go for a visit and they haven’t bothered to tidy up, that’s a big indicator that they don’t clean up in general. I once turned down a great apartment in a great location for super cheap rent because the two current inhabitants had peanut shells littering the floor in their living room (and I’d do it again).
They love to party
If you’ve spent much time roommate hunting, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of people have no problem being open about how much they like to party. That’s because they’re looking for someone who supports, and possibly shares, the lifestyle. If you prefer to live life a bit more quietly, moving in with a partier will only lead to future strife and discontent. Do yourself a favor and, no matter how fun they may seem the first time you meet them, don’t sign a contract binding yourself to live with someone who thinks Monday nights are a great time for Jägerbombs unless that’s your preference too.
They don’t have a job
When it comes to roommates, financial stability is as important as a good personality. Unless your potential roommate is a student or has a hefty trust fund, a lack of a job can be major red flag, especially if they’re not actively on the hunt. It’s often hard enough digging up your own share of the rent and utilities every month without worrying that your roommate won’t be able to deliver their half.
They don’t have good references
If you have an opportunity to do so, you should seek out references to help determine what a potential roommate might be like. Ask for contact information of former roommates and/or landlords so you can get a better idea of how they treat their home situation. It’s not always possible to get references in these sorts of situations, but do a little digging and see what you can come up with. If you find out they’re frequently late with rent, have had a revolving door of former roommates, or have a habit of blasting music at all hours of the day and night, you may want to rethink moving forward with a lease.
They have contempt for your interests
When you’re first meeting the person who may end up being your roommate, start talking about the things you like to do. If you say you’re into Crossfit and they roll their eyes, or you mention that you like to relax at the end of a busy day with a glass of wine and an episode of Vanderpump Rules and they tell you that reality TV is for dummies, run, don’t walk, to the exit. You and your roommate don’t have to have the same interests by any means, but if they have open contempt for the things that make you happy, they’re likely unsupportive and unfriendly in other ways too.
They tell you not to touch their things
Everybody needs and deserves personal space, but at some point, it can become overkill. If a potential roommate is adamant that you can’t use any of their kitchenware or put your things on the shelves they hung in the living room, take it as a sign of general inconsideration and move on to the next candidate. You obviously don’t have to share all of your things – and there are plenty of things people are perfectly entitled not to share, like food, toiletries, and clothes – but a lack of graciousness in some areas tends to extend into others as well.
They have a significant other who doesn’t pay rent but basically lives there
Sharing a living space requires respect. A roommate who allows another individual to live in your home rent-free while running up your heating bill and using up your toilet paper is someone who doesn’t have respect for you or your agreement. It’s one thing to have a boyfriend or girlfriend who stays over on the weekends, but if their significant other is going to be more of an additional roommate (and a freeloader at that), avoid the situation.
Your gut tells you that something is off
Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right about a person, don’t put yourself in the difficult to reverse situation of signing a lease with them. Sometimes we know deep down that something is wrong before we’re ever able to articulate it into clear thoughts. If you have even an inkling of doubt about a potential roommate, even if you can’t quite explain where it’s coming from, call it a loss and look for someone who doesn’t cause you to second guess moving forward.
If you end up missing or ignoring these roommate red flags and signing a lease together, figuring out how to deal with a bad roommate is the next step. Living with a bad roommate isn’t the best situation to be in, but it’s not the end of the world either. Remain as copacetic as possible, and take solace in the fact that the day will come when the lease is over and you can both move on.
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Author: Laura Mueller
Laura Mueller is a professional writer with nearly five years of experience writing about moving. She is particularly interested in topics around organization, home design, and real estate, and definitely has a few tricks up her sleeve after moving eight times in eight years during her 20s. Laura believes that moving should be as stress-free of an experience as possible, and is always working on new tips and shortcuts that she can share with readers on Moving.com.View all posts by Laura Mueller