Living with roommates has become the backdrop of American life. About one-third of adults live in a shared household. It’s a metric that’s increased steadily since the ’90s.

This presents an opportunity. If you need a roommate, there are millions of potential candidates to choose from. New roommate services are making it easier than ever to find the perfect roommates.

But just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s easy. Finding the wrong roommate can lead to some serious headaches and financial disasters down the road.

On the hunt for a Chicago roommate who won’t drive you mad? This guide will show you how it’s done.

1. Turn Friends Into the Perfect Roommates

Before you start looking for a stranger to live with, why not tap your network? Yes, I know many people advise against moving in with your best friends. And there’s a good reason for it.

They may not seem as fun when they’re leaving their dirty dishes and clothes all over the apartment. But it is possible to move in with good friends without any serious problems.

If you’re concerned about taking that path, look to your secondary and tertiary groups of friends. Maybe these are old colleagues or peers from high school and work. Since you don’t know them as well, there’s less on the line if something goes wrong while you’re living together.

That said, there are some safe ways to get roommates when you can’t find someone to move in with you.

2. Use a Roommate-Matching Website

Facebook is a convenient place to search for the perfect roommates. For one: Almost everyone has it. Plus, these Facebook groups get really specific, narrowing down your choices and making your decision easier.

The best thing about Facebook groups is you can discreetly snoop at social media profiles. There are no more wasted conversations with people you know you won’t get along with.

But if Facebook isn’t your thing, try some other websites. Reddit and Craigslist are semi-popular portals. These are a touch more dangerous since you have to take everything at face value.

Other alternatives include websites like Roomster and Roomgo (previously EasyRoommate).

3. Question Potential Candidates

A formal conversation can help you determine if someone is a good fit. But what should you ask? First, consider your must-haves and pet peeves.

For example, if you work nights, you probably want your roommate to as well. Otherwise, they may keep you up while you’re trying to sleep.

What does their average day look like? If they spend a lot of their free time partying or playing music through their speakers, you’d better be ready to live with it!

Your priorities will ultimately determine the kinds of questions you ask. It doesn’t have to be too formal. While talking in-person is best, you can get some general answers by chatting through text messages.

4. Remember It’s a Two-Way Street

Your preferences matter. And so do theirs. Maybe you’re comfortable with their lifestyle and daily routine.

That doesn’t mean they’ll approve of yours. You may have some nasty habits you’re not aware of or a personality they’re not into. And that matters since you’ll be in close proximity to each other for most hours of the day.

Don’t waste your time lying to them. You wouldn’t want them to tell a fib when answering your questions. And lying will cause major problems down the road when you start doing something they were trying to avoid.

5. Get an Apartment That Satisfies Expectations

A Chicago apartment can make or break your roommate experience. From your interview, you should have a good idea of what you both want, whether it’s an extra bedroom or separate bathrooms.

Always pay close attention to the layout of the apartment to ensure there’s ample personal space. With a terrible floor plan, you’ll both be bumping into each other at all hours of the day. Even though it’s nobody’s fault, it can start leading to some hostility when people seemingly invade your space.

Of course, the location matters too. Wrigleyville Chicago apartments will vary from Lakeview apartments. It’s a good idea to check out the amenities in the nearby area to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.

If you don’t have time to check out the entire area, at least read about it. We put together this article about life in Wrigleyville to save you some trouble.

6. Create and Sign a Roommate Agreement

You should both sign a roommate agreement before the lease. It may seem a bit forward, but it protects both you and your roommate. A roommate agreement is a contract that establishes expectations for all residents.

And yes, roommate agreements are legally binding.

Imagine that your perfect roommates turn out to be not so perfect. They agreed to pay their portion of the rent, but now they’ve stopped. Well, if that clause was included in the roommate agreement, now you have grounds to bring them to small claims court to make up the difference.

Keep in mind that landlords will not evict a tenant based on the contents of the deal. To see what you should include, take a look at this sample roommate agreement.

Find the Perfect Chicago Apartment for Your Perfect Roommates

Don’t be overwhelmed. There’s a lot to consider about finding the perfect roommates. But at the end of the day, you can trust your intuition to determine if someone is the right fit for you and your apartment.

And speaking of apartments, have you found yours? Search for Chicago apartments for rent and get started today.