How not to rent your life away

Having gone through 13 different roommates and counting, Nashville-based writer and editor Kathryn Williams takes all of her accumulated roommate knowledge and offers advice in the book “Roommates: Sharing Your Home With Friends, Strangers, and Total Freaks” (Chronicle Books, $12.95.)

Williams, whose work has seen the pages of Newsweek and The New York Observer, uses hilarious examples of real-life roommate tragedies and successes to map out the do’s and don’ts of finding perfect roommate nirvana, and to ensure that readers looking for a roomie along the lines of Joe Schmo don’t end up with Herbert the Pervert or Shady McShaderson.

As with all relationships, Williams explains that “the roomie relationship contains the seeds of both joy and misery,” and that communication is the true key to success. One of the worst things about living with someone is using passive-aggressive behavior and expecting that your roommate knows what your thinking.

“Roommates” has generic places for people to look for roomies such as: and, and offers places to look for lifestyle-specific roommates with Web sites such as:, and among others.

And Williams shows readers how to point out questionable roommate postings. One of my favorite examples was a listing for “$30, 3br, Free rent in exchange for part time work, Female Only … she would be a live-in personal assistant. All living expenses would be paid by me plus $1,500 per month in cash.” If that isn’t a warning sign, then what is?

Williams includes chore wheels, twisted personality quizzes and she lists the pros of having a roommate, “Someone with another set of keys to your home” and the cons of having a roommate, “Someone with another set of keys to your home.”

Complete with how to handle and share the bathroom, showing other ways to divide up the fridge besides using duct-tape — apparently people do that — using the Hollywood example of Balki and Cousin Larry to show that “Perfect Strangers” can be perfect roommates and advice on how to know when it’s time to say “So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen,” Williams’ book is a must-have for all roommates and people still searching for someone to share the bills with. “Roommates: Sharing Your Home With Friends, Strangers, and Total Freaks” will be available in September.