Having moved 3 times in the past 8 months, I have officially mastered the art of living out of boxes. In fact, when I first moved to San Francisco last June, I lived in an actual box — a room the size of a converted shower stall. So I consider myself an expert on leading a minimalist lifestyle (so as to fit inside the box), effective packing methods and most importantly now, the picking and choosing of roommates.
If you happen to be in the market for shared housing and find yourself in attendance of an “open house” where you get to check out the place and its current inhabitants and see “if you’re a good fit,” what you might hear is lots of this:
Current roommate to the roommate prospect: “So what do you do?”
Prospect to current roommates: “What do you guys do for fun?”
Current roommate to the roommate prospect: “Well, there’s a cat… so, you’d have to be ok with that. Is that ok?”
Prospect to current roommates: “Do you guys like, hang out? Or do you guys pretty much stay in your rooms?”
And there will be lots of tittering. Do not forget to titter. It is very important to titter if you are to be taken seriously as a candidate for the open room. Especially in San Francisco. Housing is very hard to come by there, so extra tittering may be called for. If you feel things are going particularly well, that the roommates have especially taken to you, feel free to let a chortle loose. Use your good judgement.
Back to the issue of roommate selection. I have learned that this is a very large part of what makes your home life a happy and comfortable one. That and the appliances that are available for use in the kitchen. If your future roommates seem to think the absence of such appliances is a good representation of them sticking it to The Man, but you feel Hot Pockets are the reason for your existence, you should seriously reconsider this living arrangement.
I would advise to skip over questions like “What do you do for a living?” and “Do you cook a lot?” It should be readily apparent if they take hallucinogenic drugs professionally and if they don’t appear to look like Dave Chappelle’s signature crack addict, then you will come to find out their occupation and what they can cook best later. Other things will start to come out eventually too, but to avoid awkwardness or resentment in the future, I’ve compiled a list of things you should ask about upfront, before talk of how much the security deposit is.
1) Are all of the roommates living in this dimension? (This question will help ascertain the mental state of the roommate you are currently talking to.)
2) Do any of the other roommates believe that they are living both in this dimension and another one? (This one will help determine the mental states of the other roommates’ living in the house.)
3) Have you ever caught a roommate talking out loud to himself or muttering under his breath and then upon being caught, explaining himself with “Don’t mind me, I just do that ’cause it helps drone out the voices in my head?”
4) Will the cat wake me up in the middle of the night by throwing its body full force against the bedroom door?
5) Will it stare at me for far too long and much too intently, as if to tell me it’s possessed?
5) Will there be long email strings between the roommates from those seeking compensation for knives I never used?
6) If you see an 18-pack of beers in the fridge, and you know you did not buy them, would you drink them all? What if there were a bag of Rice Krispy treats that were not yours… would you eat every last one and when confronted, answer with “I was stoned?”
7) While I am away on vacation, will you let strangers sleep in my bed?
8) While I am away at work, will you let dogs or other animals deposit their feces in my room and on my carpet?
9) Do you normally wear your jacket inside?
10) Is there a reason why it’s 62 degrees in here?
I’ve always considered myself an easy going, easy to get along with roommate, but after looking back at all that’s happened, maybe I’m not. Maybe I expect too much, maybe I am too normal, maybe I walk the line of being a boring person too closely. But alas, that is who I am, and maybe if that’s you too, you will find this list helpful in your housing search.