It’s been 21 years since I finished college. For at least half that time, I’ve had a myriad of roommates (and colorful experiences), so believe me, I can really speak to this topic! After college, you’ll most likely move away from your parents place—especially if your new job is in a different city.
First, finding your new place: Consider living as close to work as you can. This will save not only gas, but time commuting to and from the company. If you have friends in the city where you’ll be living, ask them about where they live or other places they’ve heard recommended. Frequently, at convenience stores/gas stations or retailers like Target or Wal-Mart, there are racks of free Apartment Finder guides near the front door. You can also surf the web at places like rent.com, forrent.com, or apartments.com.
Let’s say you simply want to find an apartment or house where the current renter needs a roommate. Again, your social media network is a great place to inquire. So start by seeing if anyone your network recommends needs a roommate or wants to partner with someone to find a place. I’ve had friends that had great luck with Craigslist. Here you can find many people that need a roommate. Roomates.com, roomster.com, or easyroommate.com are also options.
Obviously, consider if you can afford your part of the rent before you show up to check the places out. Then, inquire about the security deposit (how much it is and how much you’ll get back when you move out), and make sure both you and your roommates’ names are on the lease (so anyone failing to pay their portion can be held accountable.) Depending on how long you feel you’ll stay at that location, you can choose a 6 or 12 month lease—the more months, the lower the rent will be. Remember, depending on which living situation you choose, utilities will need to be assigned to one name, so you may want to split up who registers for what so it’s all not on you. The better your credit, the less likely a deposit will be required. Some places will not charge tenants for water or trash pickup.
Beyond the place, the people you live with are just as or more important a consideration! I’ve found that rooming with friends of friends or new acquaintances (e.g., people I met at musicians or association groups are the best since you have a common tie but aren’t long time friends.) Rooming with a close friend can tend to strain or mar the relationship since you add the stresses of dealing with cleaning, bills, noise, etc. to the mix when you live together.
Whoever you choose, remember that you’ll be not only sharing space, but dealing with division of chores, shared bills, the security of the place, safety of your things, and both of your friends and love interests. As an extra level of caution, or if you don’t have the luxury of being referred to someone by a friend, you could always try to run a background check on the people you consider.
Finally, whether you have roommates or not, it’s always a good idea to have renters’ insurance to protect your belongings in case of fire, theft, flood, etc. Renters’ insurance is specifically for those who do not own the place where they live and usually costs less than insurance on an owned residence. Shop around for the best price, and refer to my previous post on insurance for tips on doing so. Usually this is billed as one payment per year. I preferred the type that reimbursed me for the cost of replacement of my items vs. getting the current value of those items back. Check with the owner as to what’s covered, since you’ll want renters’ insurance in cases where the owners insurance doesn’t or is insufficient to cover the loss of your things.