The truth is, apartment hunting with potential roommates is a fine art, and there are definitely some things you learn along the way that would’ve been incredibly useful if you had known beforehand. Things like:
1.) Agree On A Maximum Rent Beforehand. Keep Utilities In Mind.
In general, most apartments (if they’re the same size) have roughly the same cost for utilities each month. You’ll find some variation (some places you pay your water or heat, others come with a washer and dryer in the unit), but for the most part utilities are pretty similar.
So with a general number in mind (the total amount for utilities in my house is about $90, so split three ways is $30/mo), establish an amount in rent you can’t go above.
2.) Agree On Minimum Requirements.
Notice I said “minimum requirements,” not “wish-list.” Of course the overall number of bedrooms is essential, but other things, like a dishwasher or a garage, are more negotiable. Personally, as long as I can have a workable kitchen I couldn’t care less about the rest of the house.
3.) Stick To The List!
A few years ago I was moving in with a couple girls (Jane and Jackie, we’ll say), and the apartment search was awful. The issue was, I had an incredibly small window I could afford for rent each month, and Jane had a ridiculous list of requirements (no ice-tray = no deal). She’d drive us to look at houses far out of my price range, and anything I could afford was instantly labeled as “disgusting.”
Eventually we came close to renting a place that had two bedrooms and a large closet (which would’ve been my room), but I put my foot down. After about 3 months we found a place that was perfect and we could all afford. In the end, if we hadn’t stuck to our list of requirements, someone would’ve ended up very unhappy.
4.) Constantly Re-Evaluate.
As your search continues, you’ll either find that things you thought you couldn’t live without really aren’t that necessary, or they’re just trumped by other factors you hadn’t considered. Did you get a new scholarship and can now afford that extra $50/month? Do you value space over amenities more than you did earlier?
Being the only girl in my home, I was positive there was no way I was living with two guys without a dishwasher, but the place we live in now was so close to downtown we just couldn’t pass it up, dishwasher or not. It’s important to keep to your list of requirements, but it’s also important to make sure they’re essential. Do you really need a garbage disposal, or would you rather have air-conditioning?
Good luck and happy apartment hunting!