Planning for a Roommate—at Any Age | Scott Johnson

Planning for a Roommate—at Any Age

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roommates in kitchen

If you’re considering buying a house by yourself, but aren’t sure you can afford the mortgage—then consider getting a roommate. Today, adults of all ages are choosing to be a “live-in landlord” as a viable option for buying their own home—after college, after kids move out, after divorce, or simply as a single working adult.

According to The New York Times, roommates are gaining popularity in all age groups—especially in the 18-44 age bracket. A U.S. Census Bureau study recently reported a steady increase of nonfamily, multi-adult households to 6.1%—up from 1.7% over thirty years ago.

While being a “live-in landlord” can help pay the mortgage, there are a few things to consider before you begin.

Find someone who’s a good fit to your current lifestyle.

Life will be easier if your roommate has a similar daily work and social schedule. (Think: day shift versus night shift.) Ask friends for referrals, or sign up for an online matching service like

Pick a good rent.

How much should you charge? Do you want them to pay weekly or monthly? There are lots of ways to pay rent today—including cash, check, PayPal, or even Facebook payments.

Create “common areas.”

Make sure your new roomie clearly understands which areas of the house are private (your room, their room) and which areas of the house are for socializing and sharing (kitchen, living room, dining room).

Carve out storage space.

Make room for your roommate to store their belongings in the basement, garage, and closets.

Decide how to handle food purchases.

Sharing food can be a challenge, especially if you have different budgets and tastes. Will you buy food for both of you and share the cost, or each buy groceries independently? Try designating shelves and drawers in the fridge and cabinets for each of you. Make sure to budget for “community foods” like salt, pepper, ketchup.

Determine how you’ll handle chores.

Do you want your new roomie to contribute to house cleanup? Or is it easier for you to simply charge more, and do them yourself? Let them know upfront how you want them to handle dirty dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, mowing before they move in.

Decide on a guest policy.

Can your roommate invite family to stay for the weekend? What about hosting parties? Discuss your guest preferences clearly upfront to avoid conflicts later.

How long will they rent from you?

Find out how long the new roommate is planning to rent from you—such as three months, six months, or one year. Also, decide upfront how you will both handle it if one of you decides to end the arrangement early.

Write it all up in a contract.

Once you’ve agreed on the key points, it’s time to write it all down on paper. Make sure both of you sign and date it to prevent conflicts in the future.

Renting out your whole house? Learn more about ReeceNichols’home rental services.