Life with roommates can be… interesting. Depending on who you room with, it can either be an absolute blast, or an absolute nightmare – hopefully not the latter. Personally, I’ve had pretty good luck when it comes to living with other people, often times complete strangers at first.
Currently, I’m living with 5 other guys in a house – like I said, interesting. But thankfully, we all get along and abide by rules to keep it that way. Aside from having rules, technology can make co-habitation easier. Here are five ways you can use technology to improve your roommate experience.
Finding The Right Roommate
If you’ve ever had a bad roommate, you know how important this step is. But how do you find the right one? Tina actually wrote an excellent article on finding a great roommate. One section of her article outlines where to search, using websites specifically designed for finding roommates, such as RoomSurf, as well as many others. But she also recommends using Craigslist. which I also recommend. However, you want to ensure that you construct your ads properly to attract the kind of quality candidates you’re looking for.
In addition to Craigslist and roommate-finding websites, another option would be to contact people you know – and what better way to do that than Facebook? Are you a member of a Facebook group consisting of people you know locally or through a certain organization? There are now college-specific groups for each college – you could look there. There’s also the status post visible to all your friends that could get the attention of someone you now who may be looking for a roommate, or perhaps know someone who is.
Collaborate On A Rent/Expense Ledger, Food And Chores Charts
When it comes to who paid what, it’s important to keep records. There’s rent, utilities, electric, as well as household items and any other shared things, such as food. The best way to keep track of all of this is with a ledger – it keeps all six of us sane in the house we live in, and even if it’s just you and one other person, it will be a huge help.
In addition to keeping a ledger, spreadsheets can also be used to manage community food so that you can keep track of what is available and don’t end up buying multiple things. Tracking chores is another possibility – when they were last done, who did them, etc.
So what do you use? Collaboration is important, so Google Docs is likely your best choice. Most people have a Google account, and if not, they can still access the documents, plus it’s free and easy to use. Ryan shared his expertise in using Google Docs whether it’s for various amazing functions or understanding the spreadsheet tools.
Transfer Money To Each Other Securely
Whether you’re trying to split a dinner meal or pay rent, exchanging money can be another tricky thing. Personally, I don’t like using cash for the mere reason that it’s untraceable – if I don’t manually record it, I don’t know where it goes. Whereas, with a debit card, I can look at my bank account online and see how much I spent, what I spent it on and when I spent it.
But you can’t use a debit card to transfer funds to the average person. Of cours,e you’ve likely heard of PayPal, but do you use it? It’s super easy to set up to pay someone or to receive payments. Another option would be to transfer money directly to someone’s bank account using only their routing number. And of course, there are many PayPal alternatives too, such as WePay.
Other options would be to use apps. Joel wrote a great review on a website called What Do I Owe You, but there are many others such as Splitwise, Venmo, SettleUp and OurGroceries. GroupMe, a group text messaging app has also recently added the feature to send money to your friends.
Create A Digital Community
Everyone has different workloads, schedules, classes, hobbies, friends and therefore it’s rare for everyone to be home at the same time. Even then, they could be busy and you don’t want to interrupt them. So even if you live with several roommates, getting in touch with everyone together can be difficult.
There are a couple solid solutions to this problem. One option is to use a group text messaging app, such as the one I mentioned previously in this article, GroupMe. If you all used it as a mutual form of communication and payment, that would be even better. Another option would be to create a Facebook group – most people have Facebook, so it would be a common place that they all go to daily. This would be a great place to post things that apply to everyone such as “I’m expecting a package today, but won’t be home – will anyone be around to bring it inside for me?” or “We’re all invited to hang out at a Halloween party this weekend. Who wants to come?”
Own A Good Router
If there’s one thing that gets people agitated, it’s the lack of a solid Internet connection – I consider myself lucky to have lived through such a fiasco. I’m the “computer guy” in our house, so whenever the Internet isn’t working, I hear about it. In one instance, I dealt with a manufacturer to get a replacement router – and I wasn’t even the one who purchased it! So I assure you, researching for a good router — and Internet service provider, for that matter — is an investment that will pay off.
Certainly these technology tips won’t always make the seas calm when rooming with others – no one is perfect and we’re bound to have conflicts from time to time. The most important thing is to do your best to keep the peace, even when the sea is rough. But these five tips should definitely help – I know because these are what my five roommates and I use.
Now that you have some inspiration, do you have any additional ideas that have either been sparked from this article or things that you’re already doing to make living with roommates much more enjoyable?
Image Credits: University of Exeter via Flickr, Young women taking a break on moving day via Shutterstock, Two mobile phones with NFC payment technology via Shutterstock, Speech bubbles on purple board via Shutterstock, Wireless router isolated on white background via Shutterstock, Modern projector on white background via Shutterstock