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[whitespace] Find the Right Roommate

Home is where housemates are

By Mary Spicuzza

THE HOME SHOULD be a haven, a respite from the lunacy of the outside world. But anybody experiencing a bad roommate knows that they can transform even the swankiest home into the set of a horror flick. In an ideal world, people could sit down together and calmly work out their differences over tea.

But when the sound of a binge-drinking roomie puking in the kitchen sink wakes you in the middle of the night, it's usually best to just make plans for a replacement. There will be plenty of time for chatting later, especially if former roomies end up in small claims court.

Anyone opting to flee his or her own personal Amityville Horror story could follow all of the typical house-hunting rules, like scouring the newspaper classifieds section every morning and cruising cafes for well-written fliers. A surprisingly rewarding method is networking with your trusted cadre of professionals: the baristas in the neighborhood coffeehouse, co-workers, dental hygienists and mail carriers, all of whom can spread the word about your dilemma and help think of suitable replacements. Sympathetic hair stylists are often networking experts for house-hunters, as they hear stories all day long. (They can also avenge evil roomies with a really bad haircut.)

While waiting for results, using the housing resources provided by UCSC (www.housing.ucsc.edu/housing/main.html), and Cabrillo College (www.cabrillo.cc.ca.us/~housing/) provides an excellent backup plan.

But before packing a moving van and rushing for the next open room, renters should spend some time talking with, interrogating and carefully observing all potential housemates. And be honest. Lying to get your sloppy self into a squeaky-clean household does no one any good. Don't be embarrassed to ask about habits: alcohol consumption, smoking habits, shower fetishes, etc.

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From the September 26-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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