Before you move in with a co-worker's girlfriend's cousin, take time to get to know him or her. Many year-long leases are not made in heaven, and roommates can spare themselves problems if they go over each other's idiosyncrasies before they live under the same roof.
Elinor M. Bickley of Santa Fe, N.M., has written guidelines for roommates featuring questions designed to help each one learn something about the others. She has potential roommates explore everything from employment to social habits. The idea came when her college-age daughter lived in a house with nine other people.
"No one wanted to clean the bathroom," says Mrs. Bickley. "And some people didn't want any noise in the house after 1 a.m."
Mrs. Bickley was also urged to compose roommate guidelines by a woman who lost nearly $500 when a roommate left.
"People shouldn't think just because they like someone, they will automatically be able to live harmoniously with them," says Mrs. Bickley, who has also written a similar questionnaire for persons considering marriage. "If you know what you are getting into, then you will be able to face problems.Experts agree that communication is the key."
Some of the "hot spots" for roommates, according to Mrs. Bickley, include finances, scheduling and house- cleaning, borrowing, guests, and noise. "Some people are really bothered when plumbing is used after a certain hour," she adds.
The roommate questionnaire, which includes a blocked-out schedule for housework, does not seek right or wrong answers. Some of the questions include:
* If you entertain at home, will your parties be: Often? Not often? Loud? Quiet? Advance notice expected? Not expected?
* Are you a night person? Morning person? In general, it is agreed that after a.m./p.m., all noise will stop. After a.m./p.m. noisy appliances such as will not be run.
* How carefully do you expect the kitchen to be cleaned after meals or snacks? Counters cleared and wiped? Food put away? Dishes washed and put away? Pots and pans washes? Put away? Kitchen floor swept? Kitchen floored mopped? How often? Is it very important, or not important, to each roommate that these duties be performed daily? Cleaning up after snacks right away? At your convenience?
* Finances: Who holds the lease? Date rent due? How much per month will be set aside by each roommate for miscellaneous expenses? Who will hold the money?
Mrs. Bickley does not think going over guidelines will stop people from becoming roommates.
"But if they find there are significant unresolvable differences, look what they will save themselves from," she says.
Persons interested in receiving the roommate guidlines should send $3.95 plus N.M. 87501. V.I.