Would You Rather?

What's the ideal roommate setup: perfect strangers or BFFs?

By Mayra David  | June 20, 2014 - 9:59AM

From Bert and Ernie to Monica and Rachel, the television dial is filled with compelling roommate situations. But when it comes to shacking up in the city, what do New Yorkers prefer? Is it best to live with a close friend or a person you've just met?

  • Good fences make good roomies. I don’t need to live with a friend. Take my best friend, for example. I love her, but I know her well enough to know she’d drive me crazy. On paper, it looks perfect: We like the same movies, both love to cook, and we obviously love hanging out with each other. But there’s a business side to living together that would be hard to maintain. She’s messy, has odd jobs, and her parents still support her monthly bills. Those traits make bad roommates. I know she’d never leave me hanging with the rent, but I’d rather just keep business and friendship separate.  -Tammy, Park Slope
  • Perfect strangers (with an acquaintance in common). One of the best roommate situations I had was with somebody I met through a friend. They had only worked on a minor school project together and weren’t really close friends. But my friend knew we were both looking for a new living situation and that we had the same budget. That was it.  I didn’t know her personally, but knowing she was at my school and taking similar classes helped me feel secure. She couldn’t be that bad, right? But at the same time, we were strangers enough that we really gave each other a lot of space and were almost overly courteous to each other in the beginning. We warmed up to each other eventually, of course. But the basic ground rules--like a typed-up cleaning schedule!--were in place. It was very helpful. - Megan, Hamilton Heights
  • More than friends--we're actually family. I live with my sister and I love it. She’s my best friend and knows when to give me space, and when to be in my face about something. I think we get along as roommates so well because we’ve been sharing space our whole lives! We know how to live with each other’s habits--we probably helped create them! We live with two other people we found on Craigslist. That’s okay, too, for paying the bills. But they come and go as they please. We really don’t bond.  It’s so great to have somebody there who makes it feel like home, instantly.  -Lynn, Upper West Side
  • Craigslist connection. I’ve found all my roommates through Craigslist. It has worked out really well with this current one, but there have been awful ones in between. Still, I never considered living with a friend or somebody I knew through a friend. In fact it’s because I know living with somebody can be a tricky situation that I never want to live with an acquaintance. If it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, I may jeopardize my relationship with my friend. Having people in common with a roommate doesn’t guarantee you’ll get along. It’s not even a guarantee they will be responsible tenants. I’d rather have only myself to blame if it doesn’t work out. - Craig, Upper West Side
  • Mother doesn’t always know best. When a family member or good friend tells you they have the perfect roommate for you: run for the hills. This girl once moved in with me and it was awful. I kind of felt pressured to pick her as a roommate. Her mother was a work friend of my mother’s and they just wouldn’t shut up about her being the perfect roommate and how it would be the best decision to live with her, instead of a stranger. So finally I gave in. The girl was a total flake, liar, and stoner and we just didn’t get along at all. But the worst part was visiting home on weekends and having my mother ask how things were going with us. I never knew what to tell her. I didn’t want her to tell her friend. I didn’t know what my roommate was telling her mom about me. It was a stressful situation. - Leslie, Chelsea

Results: Strangers are best - 4. BFFs (and family) - 1

Verdict: There is no stranger danger. Strangers win by a landslide!

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