Author Topic: To get a roommate or not?  (Read 6917 times)

EconDiva

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To get a roommate or not?
« on: November 07, 2016, 06:56:41 AM »
This is in follow up to the below thread:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/where-in-the-world-would-you-go/msg1186426/#msg1186426

So I did it...I approached my boss about working remotely full time and she supports it.  To summarize my situation I've been living in Chicago for 4.5 years now and I've been with my current company for going on 3.  I commute 4 hours 4 days a week and work from home 1 day per week.  The little bit of family I have and my friends are all in the south (ATL mostly; mom is in SC).  I'm moving back to Atlanta and targeting the month of March. 

So it's time to move yet again...and this time my cousin (she's like my sister) who lives in Atlanta has approached me about us rooming together.  I'm open and do see it as a potential opportunity to save some money.  I've been looking at apartments in the $1100ish range.  If we room together, she stated her max in rent would be $800.  I agreed the same for me.  So that's a potential savings of ~$300.

The obvious pro is the savings but I haven't had a roommate in over a decade and I'm wondering if it will be worth it for us.  She seems pretty eager for us to do this and I am open to the idea but here are my hesitations:

-I'm just not 100% sure $300/month is worth the savings for me.  I say that because I also wanted to pet sit when I move, which I wouldn't do if we room together.  If we don't room together it's more likely I could do this and make up some if not most of that $300 anyway. 

-I will be home every.single.day. now that I'll be working from home.  I think we might get tired of each other.  That could potentially lead to spending a little more time out, which could eat into that $300/month savings.  In a perfect world we would both be disciplined enough to avoid this.

-Sometimes I get a little annoyed with her mom's ways (my aunt).  My aunt already told my cousin 'we need to have 3 bedrooms as she visits often'...which she does.  But that's an issue as I'm not willing to get a 3rd bedroom for primarily that reason.  My cousin is saying "I" would mostly need it to work in but...I'm not 100% sold on paying a higher price for a 3rd bedroom when I currently work from my bed/living area/etc now.  (A little background here...my aunt is paying about half of my cousin's rent right now so I'm sure she wants a say in things.)

I feel like the mustachian thing to do would be to room together.  Am I being a complainypants/just trying to find reasons not to do it?

Lastly, any ATL mustachians here with tips on sub-$1000/month apartments??  Boy have rents gone up since I move away in 2012!

pbkmaine

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2016, 06:59:56 AM »
Tell her you need your own apartment because you will be working from home. Be firm about it.

SKL-HOU

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2016, 07:03:21 AM »
I wouldn't live with her because of your aunt. The rest of your reasons are not that big of a deal.

mskyle

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2016, 07:24:03 AM »
Should you get a roommate: maybe.

Should you room with your cousin: definitely not.

ooeei

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2016, 07:27:41 AM »
Agree not to do it.  Also keep in mind pet-sitting in an apartment will likely require you to pay the pet deposit/fee, and even then may not be allowed.

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2016, 07:44:54 AM »
Agree not to do it.  Also keep in mind pet-sitting in an apartment will likely require you to pay the pet deposit/fee, and even then may not be allowed.

Understood...however I was thinking more along the lines of dog walking actually, not primarily pet sitting. Sorry for the confusion. I'd be open to checking in on others' pets in their apartments if that makes sense.

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2016, 07:45:26 AM »
Should you get a roommate: maybe.

Should you room with your cousin: definitely not.

Do you mind elaborating on why?

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2016, 07:46:24 AM »
Tell her you need your own apartment because you will be working from home. Be firm about it.

Your reasoning for siding with the argument of not rooming together?

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2016, 07:50:29 AM »
I wouldn't live with her because of your aunt. The rest of your reasons are not that big of a deal.

To be completely honest, and I know this sounds horrible but that is also the main reason I wouldn't want to do it.

Yesterday when talking to my cousin she said he mother wanted to know if I was ready to buy a home yet and if I could just buy a house and she could rent from me...etc etc.  My privacy is pretty important to me but I would be giving up a whole lot of that because everything is shared with her mother and it does make me extremely uncomfortable imagining my finances and daily life being broadcasted to people through her.

mskyle

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2016, 08:16:47 AM »
Should you get a roommate: maybe.

Should you room with your cousin: definitely not.

Do you mind elaborating on why?

Your cousin is already trying to talk you in to various things you don't want - the third bedroom, the frequent visits from your aunt (and would the aunt be hanging around during the day while you're trying to work?)... boundaries are already down all over the place, and they'll probably only get worse because it's family. What you're describing does not sound like it's worth $300 a month (or less because of the petsitting).

However, a casual, professional roommate relationship can be kind of great. If you can find a workaholic who likes to stay over at their SO's house a lot or goes home to another city every weekend, you're golden.

onlykelsey

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2016, 08:19:01 AM »
I wouldn't live with her because of your aunt. The rest of your reasons are not that big of a deal.

To be completely honest, and I know this sounds horrible but that is also the main reason I wouldn't want to do it.

Yesterday when talking to my cousin she said he mother wanted to know if I was ready to buy a home yet and if I could just buy a house and she could rent from me...etc etc.  My privacy is pretty important to me but I would be giving up a whole lot of that because everything is shared with her mother and it does make me extremely uncomfortable imagining my finances and daily life being broadcasted to people through her.

Definite red flag!  I would get somewhere on your own, maybe coordinate neighborhoods with your cousin if you want to stay nearby.  Have sleepovers or something.

I am no expert on this, but you should maybe look in to whether you can deduct any area of your apartment for work expenses and what the IRS requirements are on that.  I know they're pretty detailed, but it might be worth knowing them before you sign a lease somewhere. 

marielle

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2016, 08:19:07 AM »
You should be able to save more than $300 by getting a roommate. Two bedroom apartments are usually only $200 or so more per month in cities. But it sounds like you should room with someone who is not your cousin. There are way too many demands and you guys haven't even moved in together yet.

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2016, 08:37:26 AM »
You should be able to save more than $300 by getting a roommate. Two bedroom apartments are usually only $200 or so more per month in cities. But it sounds like you should room with someone who is not your cousin. There are way too many demands and you guys haven't even moved in together yet.

She's in a 2 bedroom now. It's $1200 so that's $600 a piece. That's a potential $500 a month savings.

*However*...if I move in she has already expressed being willing to stay in the building but that we'd need an extra bedroom. I helped her move into this place just over a month ago when I was in town. It is small for 2 bedrooms and it's packed full of her stuff which I would be willing to downsize to a minimal amount of things to live there at that kind of savings.

However she seems pretty set on the extra bedroom so we don't feel like 'we're on top of each other'. I honestly don't think it'll go over too well with her mom paying half her rent if we move into a 2 bedroom as her mom wouldn't have her own room when she visits.

Yesterday she mentioned an $1800 3 bedroom in her current building which didn't make any sense cost wise to me at all. I did ask her to send me a couple of properties she'd consider so I have a good idea of what she's 'really' trying to pay and live in. Then we could decide together if it makes sense (which it probably won't unfortunately).

Dragonswan

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2016, 09:06:18 AM »
Do NOT do this.
1)   At best you will strain your relationship with your cousin and aunt.  At worst you will destroy it. From your description, it sounds as if your privacy will be violated and couched as not understanding why you would think such privacy is necessary.  And because sheís family, there will be a considerable amount of presuming on her part about what is acceptable (food sharing, uses of the common areas, etc.)
2)   I have worked from home full time and part time before.  You need a separate room or space for work so you can mentally differentiate work and home life.  You do not want to be thinking about or looking at work items when engaging in home life activities.  This means whatever space you occupy will be used as an excuse for you to pay more than half the rent or for you to accept the aunt as the unofficial third roommate.
3)   You want to be free to move as your circumstances change without regard for your cousinís situation. Buying a house is your decision based on your needs, wants (which may in future involve a significant other) and timing.  Do not get trapped in a situation where you are financially responsible for the housing and the cousin starts to feel like she can prioritize other bills because you are family.
4)   Do not give her reasons why you do not want to room with her beyond saying you do not want a roommate at this point in your life.  Any explanation beyond that gives the cousin and aunt ammunition for negotiating. If you get a roommate later and she questions you about it, you can just say that the move from Chicago to Atlanta was/is huge and you needed time to get comfortable with the change before adding any additional changes. You could also use the change is stressful excuse if the cousin and aunt are not satisfied with the I donít want a roommate reason.
I hope this was helpful.


pbkmaine

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 09:19:22 AM »
Tell her you need your own apartment because you will be working from home. Be firm about it.

Your reasoning for siding with the argument of not rooming together?

They are going to be in your business and you are clearly uncomfortable with that.

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2016, 09:38:11 AM »
Do NOT do this.
1)   At best you will strain your relationship with your cousin and aunt.  At worst you will destroy it. From your description, it sounds as if your privacy will be violated and couched as not understanding why you would think such privacy is necessary.  And because sheís family, there will be a considerable amount of presuming on her part about what is acceptable (food sharing, uses of the common areas, etc.)
2)   I have worked from home full time and part time before.  You need a separate room or space for work so you can mentally differentiate work and home life.  You do not want to be thinking about or looking at work items when engaging in home life activities.  This means whatever space you occupy will be used as an excuse for you to pay more than half the rent or for you to accept the aunt as the unofficial third roommate.
3)   You want to be free to move as your circumstances change without regard for your cousinís situation. Buying a house is your decision based on your needs, wants (which may in future involve a significant other) and timing.  Do not get trapped in a situation where you are financially responsible for the housing and the cousin starts to feel like she can prioritize other bills because you are family.
4)   Do not give her reasons why you do not want to room with her beyond saying you do not want a roommate at this point in your life.  Any explanation beyond that gives the cousin and aunt ammunition for negotiating. If you get a roommate later and she questions you about it, you can just say that the move from Chicago to Atlanta was/is huge and you needed time to get comfortable with the change before adding any additional changes. You could also use the change is stressful excuse if the cousin and aunt are not satisfied with the I donít want a roommate reason.
I hope this was helpful.


This is helpful; your detailed response is helping me put things into perspective...things that may have a value too high to assign an actual cost to.

I will say that the other issue I have going on is that my best friend asked me about rooming with her too.  Actually, she mentioned it before my cousin did.  However, my best friend is newly married.  I actually have lived with her in another home with her prior husband...it was for 2 months and was actually fine (I stayed in the basement).  Initially I wasn't comfortable with this suggestion because they are newlyweds and 1 child lives there full time while another is there half time.  However, they do have an extra room and my friend is not going to charge rent.

That's right...I know she won't charge me because I could not for the life of me get her to charge me before last time I lived there.  However, if it's for a longer period (10-12 months), maybe she would consider charging me.  I think I'd just have to set my own price and pay her what I feel is reasonable like I did last time.  We haven't fully discussed this.  Since I told her my cousin asked about partnering up she may be under the impression I am no longer considering.  I just haven't said anything about it to my friend yet because I'm not sure.  I would however room with her again before rooming with my cousin at this point because of the reasons already mentioned...and because the savings is potentially pretty significant.  However, the big difference is that I would be home 24/7 this time around and I don't know how great that would work out...could potentially be an issue just like it would be working from home and living with anyone else.

My initial thought about all of this really was to just get my own place...as cheap as I can find...and be done with it, as my primary focus in my mind is to do everything I can to ensure I am living in an environment that is conducive to working from home.  So I can keep up my job performance and sanity. 

I work evenings a LOT as well (I do conferences with colleagues in Asia and Pacific regions that I manage) which means uniterrupted, quiet time is needed often -not only during the day- and is essential to job productivity and my reputation/quality of work.

Villanelle

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2016, 06:23:26 AM »
I'd tell cousin that it doesn't sound like you are on the same page, and so you've decided it won't work.  You can cite the 2/3 bedroom issue (though then you open yourself up to her saying 2 is fine, in which case you've painted yourself in to a bit of a corner), or just that the more you think about it, the more you realize you don't want to mix family and semi-business, or whatever.  I'd start with a vague "not on the same page" and hope she doesn't press the issue.

Then, I'd move in with the friend temporarily, so that you have time to really search for a place, maybe save a few months rent (and spend some of that on a lovely gift if she doesn't charge you anything, but still come out ahead).  Consider it a temporary thing, and maybe even set a deadline for yourself (and your friend) that you *will* have found a place within 6 months. 

EconDiva

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2016, 07:12:56 AM »
I don't think you should do it. As mentioned already you risk destroying your family relationships permanently as well as your privacy (oh yeah they're going to talk about you to other family members and let them know everything that's going on with you whether you want everyone to know or not). So I would politely decline. Just say you really don't want to share at this time with family and either find a one bedroom place by yourself or maybe rent a room from a non-friend and non-family member. That wat if things don't work out you and roommate can part ways and never have to interact again unlike with friends and family.

It's highly unlikely at this point.  I know she also said she is really pushing for a new job and her timeframe for this is the same month we'd potentially be moving in together so there's a lot going on between the two of us.

And yeah the privacy thing comes at a very high price...my cousin works in property management and the apartment she is currently in is the place she works in.  So if I roomed with her in the same place she'd have all of my financial information from salary to credit report and it wouldn't be a problem except she would tell her mother those things.  Her mother has a skill for sharing this sort of stuff, from what her daughter owes in student loans to her son's credit score and just so on and so forth with everyone.  I'd have an issue with that.

I totally forgot about this just now but the place my cousin is in that she moved into a little over a month ago, she chose to live there because she said she doubted her credit would allow her to get a place on her own (when you work on site and decide to live onsite they don't run your report).  So I actually don't know how she planned for that to work if she wants us to live somewhere other than where's she's currently at as I just wouldn't be comfortable having everything in my name.

The relationship between my mom and her mom is at an all time low and in a 'very' bad place now and my cousin and I have had separate conversations about trying to keep ourselves intact and out of their mess so I think by not rooming together it will help to keep things more neutral.

Plus I don't know if you saw my last post but I work in the evenings a lot in addition to throughout the day so it may be unrealistic and unfair to expect any roommate to have to tiptoe around the place for me several times throughout the week.

marielle

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2016, 09:23:59 AM »
Personally with the new information given I would either:

Get the cheapest 1 bedroom you can find.

Get a 3 bedroom and rent one room out to someone who is not your cousin. Use the 2nd room as an office area. Preferably have the office area as far away from the other bedrooms as possible. But only do this if the cost savings are significant enough. This is advantageous because you get a private office area that you wouldn't get in the 1 bedroom apartment while saving significantly more than having a 2 bedroom apartment to yourself. In my area 3 bedroom apartments are roughly $1200-1500 so maybe you can find something in that range, then charge a roommate at least $600? On Apartments.com, I see 134 apartments that are under $1000 and 3 bedrooms in Atlanta in all areas except Midtown.

ohsnap

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2016, 09:38:32 AM »
Personally with the new information given I would either:

Get the cheapest 1 bedroom you can find.

Get a 3 bedroom and rent one room out to someone who is not your cousin. Use the 2nd room as an office area. ...

In most cases, you can only do this with the landlord's permission.  Otherwise you're on the hook for the rent for the 3br.  I think this is a risky proposition.

onlykelsey

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2016, 09:42:34 AM »
Personally with the new information given I would either:

Get the cheapest 1 bedroom you can find.

Get a 3 bedroom and rent one room out to someone who is not your cousin. Use the 2nd room as an office area. Preferably have the office area as far away from the other bedrooms as possible. But only do this if the cost savings are significant enough. This is advantageous because you get a private office area that you wouldn't get in the 1 bedroom apartment while saving significantly more than having a 2 bedroom apartment to yourself. In my area 3 bedroom apartments are roughly $1200-1500 so maybe you can find something in that range, then charge a roommate at least $600? On Apartments.com, I see 134 apartments that are under $1000 and 3 bedrooms in Atlanta in all areas except Midtown.

Two potential problems:

1.  Many leases will not let you sublet, so you may need to get your new person on the lease (which defeats some of her other goals).  If second person is not on the lease, she's exposed to rent for a 3 BR

2.  Obviously this is EconDiva's call, but it will be a harder sell as to why your cousin can't move in when you have two perfectly good empty bedrooms sitting there!

Dicey

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2016, 10:05:11 AM »
Personally with the new information given I would either:

Get the cheapest 1 bedroom you can find.

Get a 3 bedroom and rent one room out to someone who is not your cousin. Use the 2nd room as an office area. Preferably have the office area as far away from the other bedrooms as possible. But only do this if the cost savings are significant enough. This is advantageous because you get a private office area that you wouldn't get in the 1 bedroom apartment while saving significantly more than having a 2 bedroom apartment to yourself. In my area 3 bedroom apartments are roughly $1200-1500 so maybe you can find something in that range, then charge a roommate at least $600? On Apartments.com, I see 134 apartments that are under $1000 and 3 bedrooms in Atlanta in all areas except Midtown.
I'd go with marielle's second suggestion and discuss your intent with the landlord in advance. If OP puts down the full deposit and pays the rent on time, the LL is not likely to care, particularly if the LL is an individual, not a corporation. I wouldn't discuss it with the relatives at all but if pressed, I'd go with a version of "stumbled on this great deal" or "a friend needed a favor" or anything that protects you from the near certainty of getting two roommates for the rent of one. Not good. Avoid at all costs.

Next, if you go this route, consider taking the two smaller rooms and renting out the master so you can collect more rent. Look for a floorplan where the master is separate from the other two rooms.

PS - I joke that I roommated and company car'd my way to FIRE. It worked!

marielle

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Re: To get a roommate or not?
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2016, 12:02:08 PM »
At my current apartment, I just need to list a roommate as an occupant. I am still fully responsible for the rent. Not sure how common this is but definitely ask beforehand. I would go for a 2 or 3 bedroom place that you can still afford, for sure. Don't rely on the roommate to pay your rent.