Sharing expenses successfully

13 Secrets to Successfully Taking in a Roommate

by Gary Foreman


Related Articles

Living with a Roommate

Divorced Mom's Finances

Renting a Spare Bedroom

You have a spare bedroom and your best friend is looking for a place to live. You happen to be short on cash, so your friend suggests he move in with you.

It’s a great idea, but anyone who's taken in a roommate can tell you that there can be trouble. So let's look at the 13 secrets to taking in a roommate successfully.

Discuss house rules before they move in. Talk about kitchen and laundry privileges. Is either area off limits or only available at certain times? Are cleaning supplies shared? Are either of you allowed to leave clothes in the dryer?

Practice neatness in common areas. If you've ever watched “The Odd Couple,” you know that a messy and a neatnik can quickly get on each other's nerves. Discuss what an acceptable level of disarray is before your friend moves in.

Discuss rules for visitors. How late is it reasonable to entertain? Talk about your tolerance for loud talk or music. Also discuss overnight visitors and how long they can stay.

Get legal. Do a formal lease. You can get them online or at a stationary store. Chances are you'll never need it, but just the fact that you and your roommate talked through an agreement will make things run smoother.

Make the lease short. You may be renting to a friend, but you never really know a person until you live with them. A short (as in three months) lease gives each of you an easy way out without ruining your friendship.

Discuss sharing. Know what items you'll share and which will be kept separate. Discuss everything from towels to orange juice in the fridge. Your friend might not mind if you borrow his toothpaste, but you might not feel the same.

Discuss timetables. This is especially important if you're sharing the kitchen or a bathroom. There’s nothing worse than being late for work and waiting on a roommate to finish showering. Five minutes can seem like an eternity, and the fight that follows could be eternal.

Take out the trash. It's the job that no one likes. Make sure you know in advance who is responsible.

Define your personal space. Living with a friend can bring you closer together. Sometimes it'll bring you too close. Decide now how you'll tell your friend to get out of your personal life in a way that won't break up your friendship.

What about pets? Your friend may not have a pet now, but what would happen if you came home from work and found a pet food dish in your kitchen?

Will you share common expenses? Adding a roommate will increase your utility bill. Is that included in the rent? Or will your roommate be expected to chip in?

Discuss tardy rent. No one wants to think about a friend stiffing them on the rent, but it does happen, especially if someone loses a job. Decide in advance what the rules are if your roommate is tardy with their rent.

Make the deposit decision. Will you require a deposit? Damage and accidents do happen. Will you or your roommate be responsible to pay for repairs?

Sharing an apartment or house with a roommate can be a great way to stretch your paycheck. Using these 13 secrets can help make the experience great, too!


Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and he's a regular contributor to CreditCards.com. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

Take the Next Step

  • If you haven't looked for a lower mortgage rate in the past year you could be wasting money each month. Use our simple tool that compares different lenders to see what your monthly mortgage payment could be. It's private, only takes a minute and could show you how to save thousands!

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here

Stay Connected with TDS







Subscribe to TDS Newsletters

Join over 250,000 other subscribers!

Join Fido!

Discounted movie tickets
Sign up for Savvy Savings at TDS and get a free membership for discounted movie tickets!

Your Email:


Surviving Tough Times
Dollar Stretcher Parents
Dollar Stretcher Tips
The Dollar Stretcher (text-based)
Financial Independence
The Computer Lady
Computer Lady Lessons
Healthy Foods

Your Email:


View the TDS Privacy Policy.