I swear I'm not anti-social.
January 10, 2009 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Is moving in with a friend always a bad idea? Are some people just better suited to live by themselves?

A friend asked to be roommates for the coming school year. This is a person I get along with rather well and share the same interests in. If I had to have a roommate, this is probably the ideal person to go with. I currently live by myself in a one-bedroom apartment. Rent is $1200 in a college community, so splitting this half ways would be a real financial benefit to me.

The issue is whether or not this is a good idea for the friendship and for my living preferences. The first year I went off to school, I did the residence hall thing and ended up with a dud of a roommate which soured me on the idea of living with someone else when I did get an apartment. Also, as with most people, I like having my own space when I come home and just want to relax after work/school.

As for the friendship, I've heard quite a few horror stories about friends who become anything but once they live together. Am I making this out to be a bigger deal than it should be? I'd really hate to lose a friend over something like this that is purely voluntary. Again, I'm not terribly particular about my living situation, but I can't decide whether the giving up some space and freedom is outweighed by halving my expense (which again, would be really really great).

Like most major life decisions, I think it's best to outsource it to the brain-ey MeFites. Past experiences and general advice for both outcomes are welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Could you try it for a week, maybe? You'd only lose a weeks rent on your own place, and you might find out that your friend has some surprisingly bad habits, or whatever.
posted by Solomon at 9:59 AM on January 10, 2009

I'm assuming you've been over to this friends current house, correct? Take note of how they live there. Is it clean? Comfortable? Do they have loud parties on the weekends? Do their living conditions match yours? Generally you can get a good sense of how someone lives, and base whether or not they'd make a good room mate on that information.

Aside from that, it seems that you've boiled the situation down to its important bits: you don't care too much about your living situation, but you value your privacy. Only you will be able to answer whether the extra money is worth giving up the extra privacy. Of course, this will depend on a lot, like just how private you can be in a particular house with a room mate. Some situations will be better than others, of course, and you should weigh your options according to the particular surroundings.

It might also be wise to sit down with this friend over some coffee to discuss the pros and cons. Tell them, without being creepy, that you value your privacy, and would hate for anything to come in between your friendship. Even discuss an exit strategy, perhaps, if you feel comfortable.
posted by nitsuj at 10:00 AM on January 10, 2009

Having a friend as a roommate can be a great experience, or a terrible one. It depends completely on your personalities.

You might have a discussion first to make sure you have similar expectations about things like house-cleaning, dishes, etc. Also, don't move in with someone who's not responsible -- it sucks to have to badger your friends to pay their share of rent, etc.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:02 AM on January 10, 2009

I have been at my happiest when living with friends, both in college and after. It depends our your and their temperaments. My friends and I are very laidback and don't take "apartment" things personally. It was just very easy for us.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:02 AM on January 10, 2009

Ohh God YES: some people are meant to live by themselves! I'm one of them. I used to wake up every morning and pray that I was the only one left on earth. That was my idea of a peaceful start. I've become much more calm since getting my own place.

But there's no reason that having roommates breaks up friendships. As miserable as I was at times, I'm still friends with everyone I lived with. And thinking about it, out of the dozens of people I know who have been in similar situations, I can only think of two or three situations that ended on non-speaking terms.

I would say having roommates is part of the College Experience. Give it a shot for a year; it won't kill you. At the very least, you'll have more money for liquor.
posted by sbutler at 10:03 AM on January 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

One of my first year hallmates told me "never move in with a friend!"
I've had some really good and some really bad experiences. I moved in with my then-best-friend a few years ago and we were totally not suited for each other (it kinda soured our friendship, tho there were other factors too).
I also had one of the greatest years ever with another very close friend - we were just a perfect match.

Personally I found a lot of that depended on people's levels of cleanliness. If those are too far apart you're headed for disaster. (and I reckon this is quite hard to judge beforehand)

With regards to the sociability aspect this should be something you could discuss beforehand - letting the person know you like to keep to yourself at times and whether that's okay. If you have your own room you can easily close the door and put up a "keep out" sign, but the other person may find that frustrating so make sure they know what they're in for.

With all of the above said, I am glad I live alone now and wouldn't want to trade.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Having lived with friends as well as strangers, I think what can go really wrong with friend-roommates is assuming that, 'hey we're friends, right? so we don't need formal rules about who's doing dishes or how often we have overnight guests--we'll just work it out as we go, since we already get along so well.

Basically, living with friends can be delightful as long as you're explicit about things you're likely to have conflicts over. Don't assume you don't need to set ground rules just because you're friends. Read through AskMe posts about roommate conflicts and compile a list of things to talk about, such as:

- Do we have the same standards of cleaning and de-cluttering? How will we divide chores?
- How will we split household expenses (utility bills, cleaning supplies)? Do we share groceries or buy our own*?
- Are we each comfortable with the other having an overnight guest? How often?
- Is there a chance one of us might want to move out in 6 months (study abroad, etc.)? How will we handle finding a replacement roommate?

*Buy our own groceries (except for things like spices and flour) was the best decision my friend-roommates and I ever made. We may have fought over who should clean the bathroom, but we never fought over who took the last of the milk.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:09 AM on January 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

I know a lot of people who moved in with their best friends and ended up becoming the worst enemies after they had lived together. But I also people for whom this arrangement worked out well. The best suggestion I can make is that you try it, and if things start getting tense in a way that can't be resolved easily, be prepared to move out to preserve your friendship.
posted by katillathehun at 10:12 AM on January 10, 2009

I lived in a 2-bedroom apartment for nearly 2 years with a friend of mine. We're still good friends. We're both quite introverted, and we both knew we could retreat to our rooms with no hard feelings if we felt like it; at the same time we dealt with all the issues related to house-sharing without fighting. Just anecdotal evidence of course, but I say: give it a try!
posted by Drexen at 10:15 AM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes, sit down first and make the house rules and expectations, particularly for things like cleaning and privacy, crystal clear.
posted by EarBucket at 10:18 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can you have honest discussions with this person about uncomfortable things? Sometimes that's hard to do with friends, but if you can do that, you should be fine.

As I've gotten older, I realized that I'm better off living alone, but I had roommates for ten years. Only one of those roommates was a friend before we lived together, and it was probably one of the less-good roommate experiences I've had. However, we are still friends so it's not guaranteed to doom the friendship, especially if you can recognize and get out of the situation early if it does start heading south.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:29 AM on January 10, 2009

Even if you discuss policies before the start, make a test run or whatever else; acceptance levels in this area vary so wildly that it is hard to make make safe a prediction of success.

But let me tell you, the possibility to stretch my legs in private after a day of work/classes would be worth more than half your rent for me!
[and the fact that you ask this question at all tells me somehow that you're not making this bigger than it is - for you]
[[and yes. I've heard some pretty horrible stories about friends trying to live closely together]]
posted by Namlit at 10:44 AM on January 10, 2009

I lived with my best friend once and we fought like cats and dogs. It didn't last for too long, but when we stopped living together we went right back to being helplessly in friend love with each other.

On the other hand, I lived with a not-as-amazing friend (as in, not my best friend, really more of a person to go out with) and we clicked perfectly.

I think the difference had to do with how much say we thought we had over each others' lives. My best friend and I took more liberties with each others' feelings because we were so close that we didn't worry about being polite-- rather, we were ourselves. My other friend and I didn't know each other that well, so we gave each other more space.

Give it a shot. Why not assign a date 6 months from now to reassess and see how everything's going? Just make sure your friend knows that if the arrangement doesn't work then she will be the one moving out.
posted by big open mouth at 10:46 AM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've lived with a close friend and we about killed each other. I moved in with a complete stranger and we got along great (although he was really easy going and low maintenance). It's going to be hard if one of you are clean and one is sloppy.
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:53 AM on January 10, 2009

I moved in with a friend from high school. Turns out, we clicked really well and became great friends and roommates. However, we also were living with an additional friend from high school and now neither one of us can stand him.

On the other side of the coin, my old college roommate and I attempted to move into an apartment together last year. It really soured our friendship and while we are still friends today, things aren't and probably will never be the same and that's too bad.

You really need to think long and hard about who they are as a person. All of their quirky characteristics will be magnified 1000x if you live together.

It helps if you both want the same things out of the apartment. Are you both independent people who would rather go to a party than have one? Or are you the type to have a ton of people over until 4am and he would rather hang out in his room and play Counterstrike?
posted by Diskeater at 10:57 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've lived with friends, and with strangers, and have had worse luck living with strangers. However, I think that had more to do with the friends being fairly easy going people who understood my slightly reclusive nature. If this person understands your need for independence (and, it's not clear, but are you going to have separate rooms? I'd definitely recommend it), then I'd say try it out for a year.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:59 AM on January 10, 2009

Along with the clean/sloppy continuum that others have mentioned, there's also the homebody/socialite scale to consider. If your future housemate is someone who never, never goes out in the evenings, you're probably going to resent never having the house to yourself, especially if you go out frequently leaving the housemate enough alone time. Closed bedroom doors are great but not really the same thing as being completely by yourself. Another thing that can work well is if you have differing class schedules.
posted by hazyjane at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Deal breakers would be different attitudes toward smoking, drinking and excessive numbers of guests. And absolutely an agreement about overnight guests that become nearly roommates.
Living alone is so much better but if you really discuss all the important issues mentioned above and can reconcile your difference it could work. You just never know.
posted by JayRwv at 11:13 AM on January 10, 2009

I lived with two close friends for two years just after graduating college. Sometimes it was the most fun ever, sometimes it was horribly awful. The thing we did that helped keep the scales tipped towards awesome was that we had created a set of house 'rules' before we moved in together. We did so over a few rounds of drinks, and we mixed in a lot of silliness with the actual rules. Y'know, rule 17 being that the bathroom gets cleaned each Saturday, and here's the rotation of whose turn... and rule 17B being that anyone who skipped their turn had to run a naked lap around the house (unsurprisingly, rule 17 was well followed). By doing this as a game, it allowed us a way to talk about all kinds of potentially problematic situations in a lighthearted way. You could set up something like this, but with rules about whatever you need or are concerned about. We typed it up, printed it out like a document/contract, each of us signed it, and it hung on the fridge. It served to remind us not only of our responsibilities, but also that we had a genuine fondness for one another. And nearly 10 years later, it's a great memento of the people we were and the priorities we had at that time.
posted by amelioration at 11:23 AM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

This largely depends on the two personalities. I've had roommates that I've all but wanted to set on fire in their sleep, and I have roommates that I still keep in contact with today, which if I had to find a roommate ever again, I would wish them to be in the same city.

Since there's (unfortunately) no concrete answer I can only give you a few things to think about and a few questions to try to answer before you make a decision.

1. You say you share interests. Are you both the same major? Will you be taking a lot of the same classes and have the same schedule?

My first roommate ever was a total wash for unique - and mostly not my fault (honestly), reasons. But, my second roommate (Roomie A, FFR) is one of the keepers I mentioned. The first year - and actually the other two years we lived together, we had pretty separate schedules. We saw eachother occasionally because we had similar majors so we shared a class and had whole department meetings, etc., but for the most part the only time we saw eachother was at night or in the morning.

We also had a lot of different friends. So often socially we weren't together. It turns out that we now share most of those friends, but at the time, not spending every moment together made it really easy for us to get along when we were stuck in our very small dorm room.

(You may think that an apartment will negate that aspect since you could - I assume - each go to your own rooms, but you'd be surprised at how small a nicely-sized apartment can feel when the last person you'd like to see is on the other side of the door.)

2. Are you a morning person, and your friend isn't? (Or worse, vice-versa?)

Do you have a 7 am class, or like to hit the gym before the sun's up? Does your potential roomie work the late shift at Applebee's and then like to go out for a little partying - on a Tuesday night?

I had one roommate (Roomie B, FFR) who went to bed at 9 pm on the dot, every night, I actually reset my watch by it once. Not kidding.

This was particularly annoying, because I was a music major, and had on group that met until 9 pm each week, and another group that called extra rehearsals that either ended or began at 9 pm because that's when most of us were actually free. My job also had bi-weekly meetings that began at 9 pm. The message here: I nearly never was home by 9 pm, much less ready to call it a night. Oh, also, I was somewhat of an insomniac.

Luckily our beds were lofted in this room, as my desk was underneath my bed, I could hang a blanket and make my self a little cave to do my homework in. This also helped dampen noise and light - though I only used the compute light generally if I had to write things down. I also used headphones for whatever listening I need to do for classes, but also to help drown out the celtic flute cd she played EVERYNIGHT on loop.

I felt I was doing everything I could to be considerate - outside of completely changing my schedule and figuring out how to lug my desktop pc out to a common room each night to do my homework. (Both I considered to be a ridiculous option.) Unfortunately, she didn't feel the same and complained that my keyboard was too loud. This was something I clearly couldn't control - and to be honest thought was the weirdest complaint I'd ever heard. I actually had the quietest, least clicky keyboard I'd ever owned at that point. We talked about it, quite amicably, and it seemed like a resolved issue. She moved out a few months later in March, without another word to me about any problems. We are still quite friendly with eachother, but it was definitely a poor match as roommates.

Clearly this difference was amplified because we had to share sleeping quarters, but even with separate rooms, you'll hear someone else shuffling around, using the shower, kitchen, etc...

3. Are either of you drastically clean or sloppy?

I'm all for the belief that personal space is one's own to keep as he/she wishes - to a reasonable degree, but shared spaces are another story. Nearly every time I've lived with someone and had a shared kitchen/bathroom/living room, it's turned into a terrible mess. I am by no means a neat freak when it comes to my personal living space, i.e. bedroom. I don't leave food lying about or anything, but I do allow things to get quite cluttered if I don't have time to deal with things. I am completely opposite-minded when it comes to shared living spaces.

(As a disclaimer to any roommate who reads this. Single dorm rooms are harder because there's no hard line between personal and shared space. But I don't think anyone will say I didn't keep things from getting terribly messy or out of hand... more than anyone else, that is!)

Anyway, I am of the mindset that a shared space should be somewhere where everyone who shares it should be able to feel comfortable there, at any time. Unfortunately, more times than not, my roommates have not felt the same.

I'm not at all implying that these areas need to be spotless and appear unused - keeping a binder of DVDs and blankets in the room with the TV, or mail and soda bottles in the kitchen is normal. I'm talking about dirty socks and dishes in the TV room, or dirty dishes covering every flat surface in the kitchen because the sink is full, and four pairs of shoes piled in front of the door. No body wants to stare at someone's crap when they're trying to enjoy their lunch, or relax after a long day.

Agreeing to share the cleaning responsibilities (and the cost of disposables - paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, etc.) goes a long way. Also, I've found the best method is to wash dishes as you use them, and if it's a bigger shared meal, take turns cleaning/cooking, or do both together. But, it's always helpful to discuss these things from the beginning rather than waiting. If you start a big conversation about cleaning responsibilities when the place is already a mess, the other person will likely get a martyr complex going, and that's never a good situation.

Anyway, if you are an absolute neat freak - or your friend is, rooming together may be hard, but if either of you are complete slobs, you may be equally troubled. Being considerate of eachother goes a long way.

4. Sharing an apartment is very different from living alone.

You may have to adjust things to be fair to both of you living together. Being flexible on shower schedules and using the TV or having people over is really important. This is especially true if there's only one bath room, TV with cable, or area large enough to house guests. Volumes are also a thing to be careful of. People rarely realize how loud they are while on cell phones.

I had a housemate (Roomie C, FFR) who was constantly, constantly on her cellphone. Literally anytime she was in the house, you could guarantee she was either sleeping or on the phone. The rest of the house decided by vote that she was likely hard of hearing or becoming so based on the volume at which she spoke while on the phone, and by the fact that said phone was always on speaker, but usually still held to her head.

It wouldn't have been so bad, but for the fact that it was constant, and it was usually in one of our shared spaces. This meant, that if anyone was watching TV they would have to crank up the volume to be able to hear the dialogue. Of course this led to Roomie C complaining about the volume of the TV and then returning to her conversation. Figures, right? Roomie B also made nightly calls to her mom on the one phone line shared by four people in our suite. These averaged between 30 minutes and a half hour, and were tediously boring and mundane to have to overhear when I was home for them...

Point is, when you're used to living alone and then get a roommate, you forget the little things that can really annoy people. This goes for TV and radio volume too, but I've had little or no problems with that myself.

5. (And possibly most important.) Are you both pretty financially responsible and reliable?

When we were living in a house of five, Roomie A was in charge of the bills because most were in her name. Often, she would have to cover for other people out of her pocket because they didn't have the money for the electric/cable/rent bill. As a house, we were lucky that she was able and willing to do this. As far as I know, everyone paid her back eventually, but it cause a lot of bad vibes when someone owed for a bill and then went out to eat or to a movie before they were paid up.

You might want to make sure your friend realizes that rent and bills are monthly and there's no leeway on them. Especially if your friend is unemployed and gets cash from loans or their parents, make sure they understand that you're not willing to cover them if they waste their rent money.

6. Do everything you can to make sure the lease is understood by everyone.

If it's a year-long lease, make sure that your friend gets that. I've lucked out when one roommate moved home with her folks because she didn't want to pay rent anymore. The landlord had never actually signed the lease and we didn't lose our deposit over it.

Unfortunately, that same roommate left a lot of damage in her room and didn't bother to try to clean or repair any of it, (Or anything else in the apartment - but I did.) and consequently we were docked for those repairs and cleaning costs. Fortunately, when I finally harassed that landlord into returning our deposit with a point-by-point list of deductions, she wrote the full amount out to me, and I was able to split the money accordingly.

So that's pretty much all I can think of without being more redundant. I hope this gives you things that are important to consider when deciding on a roommate. Sorry if it's long winded, but I've been burned and hate to think of anyone having to deal with the same problems when they could have been warned. Good luck!
posted by Kimothy at 11:40 AM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've been on both sides of the coin. It all comes down to how tolerant you are, and how tolerant the other person is. Investigate this as thoroughly as possible before making the leap.

Or, if you're very similar lifestyle-wise (ie both quiet types, both neat freaks, both wild partiers, etc., in most aspects) then there shouldn't be much of a problem. Also, make sure you know how this person deals with/values money. This can vary quite a bit from person to person and lead to conflicts, in my experience.

I'm not a wonderfully tolerant person - little things tend to bother me, no matter how much I reason with myself that they won't when considering housing situations. Now my policy is, unless it's my best friend or my SO I'm living with, I'm living alone.
posted by xiaolongbao at 11:43 AM on January 10, 2009

I'll n'th all the people who said that it's important to sit down and discuss expectations of privacy, cleanliness, noise levels, bill sharing, etc. If your expectations are pretty much the same, you're probably all right. If this is a really tense conversation that might be a warning sign: when living together you'll need to be able to talk about things that are annoying you -- or might start to -- while keeping everything genuinely relaxed and friendly.

Crucially, write down what you've agreed to, especially about anything to do with money. Make a joke out of it with daft clauses by all means, but keep a written record of what you both agreed to. It acts as a reminder of your responsibilities and, if things do go sour and, gives you something to point at if your friend acts unreasonably.

With that said, I spent two years living with a good friend of mine and had a fantastic time. If my job was closer to that flat, I'd still be living there. Almost everyone I know who's lived with a friend has enjoyed it; the one combination I can think of who didn't, arranged for one to move out and quickly went back to being good friends.
posted by metaBugs at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I first moved out while in college I shared an apartment with my 2 best friends...we talked about everything yet no matter one one of our friends (whom we knew was the most liable to break the rules) still went ahead and broke the contract and started bringing weird people at all sorts of hours had someone move in with him, it was just terrible....it definitely ended our friendship....

I ended up moving out with my other best friend a to a 2 bedroom apartment.....me and him get along great and we never had any issues.

So it definitely totally depends on how your friend is...you could be best buds with someone but you will clash if your best friend doesnt respect your personal space (if you care about those things) or is not as clean or as unclean as you are.
posted by The1andonly at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2009

I had a good friend with whom I shared several common interests. We lived together for a year, and living together destroyed the friendship. It wasn't one big thing, just daily domestic stress. Before you live with this person, ask yourself: how important is this friendship, and can I afford to loose it?
posted by paulg at 11:58 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

As has been said, it's going to depend very much on your personalities. There are definitely people meant to live alone. I currently live with my partner and it works as long as we give each other a lot of space, but I would definitely not live with a platonic roommate again and very possibly would not ever even live with a romantic partner again if we ever break up. Privacy and quiet are way too important to me.

I moved off-campus with a friend in college. We lived together for two years and drove each other minorly crazy on and off while our friendship slowly degraded over the daily irritations of space-sharing - and then when I decided to move out we had an insane fight about the cable modem and never spoke again. Which seems unbelievably dumb now, but I think we let two years' worth of minor irritations escalate and blow the one issue totally out of proportion.

Then again, my partner and his best friend lived together for a couple of years and that worked great and we're all still close. So, really - completely individual.
posted by Stacey at 12:07 PM on January 10, 2009

The biggest "hidden" bugbear I've discovered in roommate relationships is when one of your roommates starts living with their SO, in your shared apartment/house. It gets very complicated very quickly--do you even want this person around, are they trustworthy, do they pay a share of the rent, does it violate your lease, do you really want the new person as a roommate, one bathroom shared between two seemed OK but is impossible shared between three, etc., etc--so make sure you think about this and discuss this with your potential roommates.
posted by maxwelton at 12:26 PM on January 10, 2009

Yes, sit down first and make the house rules and expectations, particularly for things like cleaning and privacy, crystal clear.

Yeah, this is really about the only thing you can do to prepare to live with anyone, friend or stranger.

I honestly prefer not to live with friends as I've had friendships completely bomb (as in, Hiroshima grade destruction) when forced into a small space together day after day. You start off super close and end up driving each other totally bats. At least when you live with strangers, if you don't get along as roommates, there isn't a totally destroyed friendship on top of your other problems.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:45 PM on January 10, 2009

I've roomed with a lot of friends in the past, and with at least one we had a serious falling out, from which the friendship did not survive. The best question to ask yourself is are you two compatible? Are you both slobs, or both neat freaks? If yes, then great. If one of you is one or the other, decide now if you can change/put up with that deficit.

To put it simply, the worst part of a roommate is that they're around when you want to be alone, and they're gone when you want to hang out.
posted by zardoz at 4:11 PM on January 10, 2009

IMHO Two grown people living together who aren't sleeping together need more than one bedroom. Everything else is negotiable.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:30 PM on January 10, 2009

2nd Space Kitty - you said it was a one bedroom apartment - sharing just one bedroom means no privacy at all. If you are happier with a single apartment, then not having any privacy at all is going drive you crazy. Even if you and the roommate are getting along fine, you might find yourself irritable and trouble concentrating with someone else always around. If this sounds like you, think of the extra cost as investment in a better mental health leading to better grades.
posted by metahawk at 4:57 PM on January 10, 2009

You'll definitely need a two bedroom, because having one person live in the living room will stress both of you out.

I have lived with a variety of roommates, falling out spectacularly with two of them to the point that my friends will still bring it up today (it was several years ago). At ripe old age of 24, I decided that I would never live with a non-significant other again, even though living in New York at the time made it a considerable financial burden when I stopped living with roommates.

Still, as far as I'm concerned, the added cost was worth every penny for the privacy and the ability to keep the apartment clean to my own admittedly high standards.
posted by so much modern time at 5:35 PM on January 10, 2009

i've never lost a friend after living with them, but it definitely changes the dynamic. i've found it difficult to maintain the emotional closeness when there's the physical closeness. i think living with friends of friends is ideal - i've turned several of these into close friends.... though i probably wouldn't live with any of them again, now that they're close friends.
posted by bellbellbell at 5:39 PM on January 10, 2009

My sophomore year in college I decided to room with a friend. We got along great before we moved in together, but after we moved in together it all fell apart. In hindsight, there were warning signs that I should have taken into account. She tended to be a little touchy when she was stressed, plus we were both going through some issues (we both suffered from depression) and it just wasn't a good idea. We remained friends after we moved out, but the friendship wasn't as vital after being roommates.

Then in my senior year, I moved into an apartment with four friends of mine, and it was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. We all ended up living together for close to three years. We got along great except for the occasional little glitches that happen between friends even if they don't live together. I put it down to the fact that we were all older, plus our personalities, even though there were four of us, just seemed to mesh really well. Which is strange because we were all very different.

My advice is to be honest with yourself about your friend's faults, and try to picture yourself living with those faults 24/7. If her idiosyncrasies make you grind your teeth, it's probably not a good idea, but if her quirks just produce a fond smile, go for it.
posted by katyggls at 7:36 PM on January 10, 2009

Are some people just better suited to live by themselves?   Yes. We are called Introverts, and we need time alone to recharge our batteries (which have been discharged by interacting with people).

I like having my own space when I come home and just want to relax after work/school.   Do you feel lonely at home, wish you had company? Do you wish you had more people in your life? Or are you happy going home to an empty apartment? Does being alone help you relax, study, sleep, and enjoy life? Do you feel better the next day after a quiet night alone, or a night socializing?

These issues are about you and your temperament, and are separate from the details of the proposed roommate and how well you'd get along.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:06 PM on January 10, 2009

How well do you know her? If you know her day-to-day habits in detail - what time she wakes up, how many times she hits snooze, how long she takes in the shower in the morning, how often she does dishes, does she like to talk about her day every day for an hour, will you fight over the TV, does she play music loud, does she have random guys come over every other night - then you can decide whether it'll ruin the friendship or not.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 11:01 PM on January 10, 2009

Your having had a prior roommate experience should help, in that you and your friend can discuss what went wrong there, and can see if it can be avoided this time around. Your friend may have had a roommate in the past, too, so they can raise other potential problems you may not have thought of.

As others have mentioned, being easy-going and tolerant is a big key. And not just what does and doesn't bother you, but what would be enough of a problem to make you speak out about it, and whether the two of you could resolve it easily. If your friend doesn't always do their dishes promptly, but a couple of plates don't bug you, good. If just a mere spoon in the sink irritates the hell out of you, bring it up now. Electricity/water use is another potential sticking point.

You could consider talking to each other's families (if you're close enough) to get an idea of what they're like around the house day in and day out, and they may point out things the two of you wouldn't have realized. Of course, there are bound to be things you'll do when living with family that you wouldn't with a friend, and vice versa.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:36 AM on January 11, 2009

That is, the family members can tell you what your friend is like at their home, and point out things your friend wouldn't have realized. And the same for you and your family. There.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:38 AM on January 11, 2009

I lived with my best friend for 5 years and it was overall a great experience (I actively enjoyed it 75% of the time, was okay with it 20% of the time, and hated it 5% of the time - that's a pretty good breakdown). I lived with another friend for just a few months and it was incredibly annoying and temporarily harmed our friendship. It comes down to compatibility of living styles. My best friend and I were compatible in terms of things like basic home cleanliness, sleeping schedules, and activities (we were cycling buddies, avid walkers, and video gamers together), we knew each other extremely well, and we spent more time with each other than anyone else, so it was really not a major change to become roommates. The other friend had radically different views on cleanliness (I mean...ew), sleeping schedules (coming home at 3 AM with friends and making noise on a school night), and activities. It's like any other partnership: know yourself and your potential partner, and be fair and reasonable.
posted by biscotti at 9:50 AM on January 11, 2009

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