I’ve previously talked about the reasons for homesharing. If you are a single adult somewhere past the age of 40, it makes sense from a financial perspective to share your housing costs with someone else. It also makes sense to have a companion and not live alone. You can watch TV together, share a cup of coffee, and tell the stories of your life! You can also be there in case of a medical or emotional emergency.

In my last post, I talked about how to get started. The first thing you have to do is understand what your deal-breakers are, and what you are looking for in a new roommate. Now that you have a list, you’re ready to go.

I’ve also told you that I have been a Golden Girl for more than six years, and I’ve shared some of my stories…and I’ve talked to lots of people who are considering this lifestyle. There are more stories!

I already know what your next question is: How do I get ready for a roommate?

  • Vacuum the carpeting
  • Do the dishes
  • Toss the old newspapers…what else?

This is a good start! However, I want you to think about a few more ways of welcoming your potential roommate…walk out your front door…close your eyes…turn around and open them…pretend you are a stranger. What do you see? Is it a clean, neat, and welcoming entrance?

  • Knock on the door. Was the door opened with a smile and a warm greeting?
  • Does the house smell fresh when you walk in?
  • Is there visible clutter?
  • When you tour the house, does it feel like a place where you would like to live?

A woman came to my house recently for an interview, and brought her college-aged daughter. The daughter noticed the bookcases full of books and the stuffed animals on my desk. She loved the kitchen. We had a pleasant interview and mom was interested, but non-committal. They left and went to their second appointment, where they were poorly greeted and felt uncomfortable. The next day, mom called and committed to my home because we were warm and friendly. A smile worked!

What is your roommate looking for? Can you provide these essentials?

  • A private enclave where she can recharge away from outside noise;
  • Windows with good outside light;
  • A cable TV hookup in her room where she can watch her programs;
  • Internet access;
  • Plenty of closet space;
  • A place to store out-of-season clothes;
  • Adequate heating and air conditioning;
  • Enough space for a small desk or table;
  • A place in the kitchen to keep her stuff;
  • A washer/dryer on the premises;
  • A private bath, if possible;
  • A clean bathroom!

It usually doesn’t take much to make a home inviting to a potential roommate, but there are some things that you may not think about. Here are some hints (besides the obvious things!):

  • If the room is furnished, is the furniture attractive and inviting? You are looking for someone who will stay a while, so she/he will probably have her own furniture. Unfurnished is best because he/she likes to feel “at home,” but if you are providing a bed, put a neutral and pleasant bedspread on it when you show the room. If it is your dresser, make sure it is empty and in good repair!

    Things do happen. I started out making my extra furniture available to the roommates and my wonderful bedroom set was damaged. I loaned an older TV to someone, and it was broken. I loaned a small folding table, and she took it when she moved.

  • A fresh coat of paint works wonders! Choose a neutral beige color and make it slightly darker than the white ceiling…it makes the room look bigger. Do not, and I repeat, do not try to rent a room that is bright pink, cobalt blue, or burgundy! A fresh coat of paint makes a room smell better! Also, get curtains that match the paint color.

    Neutral colors are always best! I have one nice-sized room that is painted brightly. No one has ever wanted that room, so I moved into it. I love it, but then again, it was painted to suit my taste.

  • Make him/her feel at home. Find some space in the kitchen where he/she can keep food and kitchen supplies. Give your roommate a shelf or two in the refrigerator. Make sure that your roommate knows which items are shared, and which items should be left alone. Show your roommate how to use appliances.

When I first moved to the D.C. area, I rented a room for a year. I was never given any designated space in the kitchen and struggled for refrigerator space. Once, I invited someone over for dinner, and I felt like it was an imposition. I was never asked to help with any cleaning. We never sat down and shared a cup of coffee. I was very glad to leave!

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