By Nancy Bennett
You may be finding yourself living alone and becoming bored and also finding that your housing costs eat up too much of your budget. Rather than selling your beloved home or being forced to downgrade your home you may be able to solve both your companionship and financial problems by finding a roommate.
Circumstances sometimes make us wonder if we can cope better on our own or with someone else around. We don’t always want a partner, maybe just a friend or a relation to share our hours. Women are more likely to outlive men so you may find may yourself on your own after a long relationship. Whether you have been widowed, or now find that caring for your home is too much for one person, having a roommate might be the thing for you.
First Figure Out What You Want
Do you want someone to share similar pastimes with? Would you be ok with someone who smokes or owns a pet? What type of hours do you keep? What would be the age of someone you would feel most at home with? Before you post an ad looking for potential roommates, think about these questions and make a list. This will help you when you come to interview for your potential housemate.
Where to Find a Roommate
If you want someone to share your love of aerobics or bike riding, why not post an ad on your local gym notice board? If you like to read, perhaps post an ad at the local library. Using the Internet is a good option too, as there are plenty of sites geared towards matching roommates including:
- Retired Roommates.com
- Easy Roommate.com
You might also think of friends or relations who could move in and share your home. But be wary. If you don’t always get along with your friend outside the home, chances are living together will strain and potentially end the relationship. Family presents other difficulties. Love your cousin Marg, but hate her little rat dogs? This is not a time to make Marg decide between her dogs or you, and you would be better off not asking her to move in in the first place. Despite this, many long lasting roommates have evolved from friends or family members living together. The trick is to tackle potential differences or problems head on before inviting someone you love to share a space.
How to Make Sure It is a Good Fit
Before you invite someone to see your home, screen them via email or phone first. Ask what their needs would be, and state what you would expect both financially and chore wise. It is always good to set up a separate email account for this, just in case you find someone who is less then cordial.
Your next step is to meet them at a neutral place next and let your intuition guide you before inviting them to your home. If it feels ok but there is a bit of doubt suggest a trial period of three months to get to know each other before committing to any long term plan. This allows either party to back out if there are any problems.
Put Things in Writing
Once you have decided to take the plunge, its best to get things in writing before turning over the front door key. Who will pay for what portion of the bills? What type of notice will have to be given if someone moves? What about overnight guests? Pets? Who is in charge of cleaning what area? Draw up a contract and have two copies which you both sign. This will save you further headache later on if there are any disputes..
Have a Common Area and some Designated Private Spots
It is good to have some areas where you can be alone, but also some areas where you can meet up and share things. Most housemates make the kitchen and living room or den comfortable places to be shared, while bedrooms are off limits or by invitation only. If you are lucky enough to have two bathrooms, you can each have your own facilites, but if you share, make sure to make enough space for toiletries, pills etc, to be stored in separate areas. Nothing breaks up a friendship faster then using the other person’s personal grooming items!
Complimentary Health Issues
If you are having trouble driving, but need to get to appointments, while your housemate hates to cook but loves to drive, then you can switch chores and help each other out. If you have mobility issues it only makes sense that your housemate should be someone who is more able bodied than you, and that your bedroom is on the first level, not the top. Remember though, you are seeking a roommate and not a nursing service, so be careful how much you expect of your potential housemate and make sure they are comfortable with the role they will play in helping out.
Finding someone to share your home with can seem like a daunting task at times. But with a little bit of planning and careful management, you will find the rewards of having a companion to share your home with far outweigh the time you spend in making it work.
Solid friendships can be formed to last a lifetime and the peace of mind of knowing someone else is there can ease both your mind and that of your relations. Many roommates have gone on to live together for years, sharing laughs and taking vacations together, allowing for each to have an independent life, without having to give up that all important place we call home.
About the Author: Nancy V Bennett divides her time between her farm ( Three Sisters Farm) on Vancouver Island and writing articles on a wide variety of subjects. Her work has appeared in over 400 publications, including Dogs In Canada, HR Luxury Magazine and Reunions Magazine. She is an avid heirloom gardener and promoter of saving and sharing seeds, especially rare and endangered tomato and sweet pea varieties.