When facing a new city, with a new job, and essentially a whole new life, the one thing you hope to keep constant is those closest to you. For some, however, that cannot always be the case—at least when it comes to those you share close quarters with, your roommates.

About to graduate college and be thrown into the real world of bills, budgets, and bosses, I was terrified. When the first job offer came my way, I jumped at it. Thankfully, it was doing something I’ve always wanted to do, in a city I’ve always loved. The one catch? I needed to start one week after graduation, which gave me less than a month to find a place to live before I began my first “big girl job.” With no friends in the area in need of a roommate, and none knowing of anyone else who did, I was stuck. Quite frankly, I was screwed…

What was my answer for such a pressing concern? Craigslist. Yes, that which they have made movies about, often portraying a horrendous killer who finds his innocent victims on pages of the popular site. This is where I was to find the people who would be sharing my space, breathing my air, eating, sleeping, and bathing under my same roof. (Spoiler alert—it turned out fine!)

Having lived in a new home or apartment every year at college for the last four years, and always with new people, I’ve seen it all. Good roommates and those who will be a best friend until the end…and the other girls, the ones whose names and memories I’d rather not mention. The sweet, the snotty, and the just plain strange, I’ve had the range of roommates and this time around, I was only expecting to add to my collection. With a severe time crunch handicapping my mojo to mesh with these people of the internet/my potential roomies, I was forced to say yes to the first decent looking place that could let me move in before the start date at my new job.

A four bedroom, two and a half bath house in a great neighborhood, what could go wrong? Plenty. The house held four other girls (I would make it five), and three cats (my own cat—which I was sure to bring—would make it four). I tried not to focus on everything that could go awry (such as cat fights between more than just the felines, if you know what I mean) and instead think about my spacious room, my splendid new job, and my friends in the area who would be sure to have my back if need be—right?

As already mentioned, it has turned out fine so far. Following a few weeks of hissing and a few claws thrown around, the cats adjusted and are all buds now. My roommates are definitely not what I’m used to, but I’ve had very minimal problems so far and many more fun times. How did I swing such an ideal outcome, and how could I have done this better? I’ll tell you.

 

woman_inhome_floral

What I did right:

  1. Exchanged email convos prior to committing & asked everything that needed to known
    1. Before saying yes to the lease, I had back and forth email conversations with a couple prospective peeps. During these convos, I had all my questions answered, and not just about the house and rent, oh no. I thought about my own habits and what I did on the reg and turned those into either conversation starters or questions to make sure the girl (or guy) who would be sleeping down the hall from me would be ok with my routines. (This includes drinking, having people over, possible sleepovers, etc.)
  2. Found a place with a 6-month lease instead of 12
    1. This is pretty self-explanatory; signing a shorter lease leaves wiggle room. Six months isn’t a whole lot of time compared to the latter. If you test it out and realize these aren’t the folks for you, you can move on and try again. Hopefully at that point you will have made new connections and can live with someone you actually know too!
  3. Didn’t judge a book by its (angry) cover
    1. Of course I friended the possible roomies on Facebook before giving a definitive answer. Don’t judge me, you know a good social media stalk tells all tales—who wouldn’t want to get an idea of what they would be living with before they move in! Upon my investigation, I did stumble across some concerns. Everyone looked chill enough, but one housemate looked hella hangry in all her pics. I was confused for sure, but hey, pictures don’t make me happy either, maybe she just wasn’t a fan of the cam? I took it that maybe this was just her sense of humor, and I’m glad I did, because it is and she’s great! Don’t let appearances get the best of you. While they may be important in some respects, don’t overthink anything—keep in mind that you have yet to even meet these people in person!
What I did wrong:
  1. Lived far away from friends
    1. By “far away from friends” I mean not in walking distance, which would be more than ideal in the city. Instead, I chose a place that’s a 10-15 minute drive from my closest friend (location-wise as well friendship-wise). If you can find a place in walking distance to a pal, go for that one! If I had had issues with my roomies, having a safe haven at a friend’s would have been the perfect escape.
  2. Only talked to one out of the four roommates
    1. In retrospect, I should have communicated with each and every housemate before committing. I only had conversations with one of the four other girls, and while she explained the other three girls’ personalities and had nothing but good things to say each, it would have been smart for me to test the waters for myself.
  3. Let the ‘breakfast nook’ go to my head
    1. Ah, the breakfast nook. Sweet, sunny, breakfast nook. Who doesn’t get excited about the idea of a breakfast nook (it is a little area off of my room; yes, a breakfast nook all to myself)! The idea of this added space had me sold and may have made me overlook other details I shouldn’t have been so quick to accept. (Maybe if the breakfast nook hadn’t been a part of the package I would’ve made sure to message and get to know each roommate first). Don’t let little advantages blind you to things that should be of concern—take the entire situation into perspective.
Overall best approach to living with randoms? Keep an open mind!
Written By

A recent college grad from Virginia Tech, I'm now living back in the city I love, working as a copywriter and trying to figure out adult life one spilled drink and overdue bill at a time.