Questions To Ask A Potential Roommate
Finding a compatible roommate is similar to choosing a significant other. Ideally, look for someone whose lifestyle and values align with yours. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this person, so find someone who you can have mutual respect with. This search should start with asking the right questions. The ideal questions to ask a potential roommate are those that give you insight into who a person is and how they prefer to live.
If you’re on the hunt for that perfect roommate, be sure you do your due diligence in making sure you find a good match. Here are some questions to ask a potential roommate so that you can get a better idea about whether living together is a good idea.
What do you do for a living?
A person’s job can tell you a lot about them. Are they in a 9am-5pm office gig? Doing some late-night bartending? Waking up before sunrise for their barista position? Getting a good idea about what someone does to make ends meet will also fill you in on what their typical day-to-day is like (or if they don’t have a typical day-to-day at all). Pay attention to how they talk about their job, too. A potential roommate who’s ready to quit or who’s super stressed out by their work could bring added stress to your life as well.
Do you get along with your previous roommates?
One of the best questions to ask a potential roommate is whether they have a good relationship with their previous roommates, provided they have some. It can be a major red flag if someone says they have a contentious relationship with a past roommate or that their co-tenancy ended on bad terms. You don’t have to dig into the details (people are often blind to their own misgivings as a roommate, so you might not get the full story anyway), but take note of how they talk about their past roommate experiences and whether they were negative. If they have a pattern of bad roomie incidents, they’re probably at least partially to blame.
What’s the most you can spend on rent?
It can be super awkward to ask someone you don’t know very well a finance-related question, but living together means sharing some major expenses, so it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone a little bit to make sure you’re both on the same page. Asking a potential roommate about their budget limit helps establish whether you’ve got the same ideas in mind about what’s realistic. It’s especially useful information if you’re looking for a roommate to fill an empty spot in your current home, since you might not want someone who will be stretching themselves super thin to make their rent every month.
How often do you do your dishes?
Differing approaches to cleaning are one of the biggest triggers of discontent between roommates and the basis of many a passive aggressive sticky note left on the fridge. For that reason, it’s good to establish early on whether you and a potential roommate have a similar approach to cleaning, and asking how often a person does their dishes is likely going to get you a more honest response than asking if they’re just a clean person in general. Dishes are a good barometer of how someone approaches cleanliness of shared spaces—if they’re not taking the time to regularly wash their silverware and cups, they’re probably not going to take the time to clean the bathroom a couple times a month either.
Roommate Significant Other
Are you in a relationship? And if so, will your partner be sleeping over regularly?
There’s obviously nothing wrong with sharing an apartment with someone who has a significant other, but it’s a whole other thing to have a roommate whose significant other stays over all of the time. It can be incredibly frustrating to have a third roommate who you didn’t sign up to live with and who doesn’t contribute to the rent (but does contribute to higher utility costs). It can also tell you a bit about what your roommate-relationship might be like if they say they’re the one who often sleeps out. Finding out early what you’re getting into here is important and could help you avoid future conflict.
Do you smoke or do drugs?
Substance use and illegal drug use are two of the worst roommate offenses and can easily drive a wedge in an otherwise copacetic relationship. While not all substance use is equal, you’re going to want to know if the person you might live with has a different approach to drugs than you do, or if they’re a smoker who doesn’t think smoking inside is a big deal. It’s smart to clear this up before signing a lease together, so make sure you touch on this when you’re getting to know each other.
Do you have any pets or plans to get a pet?
Living with an animal is great, but it’s not for everybody. Make sure you’re on the same page about pets and the possibility of pets, especially if you have your own pet or if you have any allergies. If your potential roommate does have a pet, ask about their routine with them and if they expect any additional help from you. If you’re fine with animals and okay with a potential roommate who has one, you’re still going to want to know if it will add on to your own responsibilities.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
There’s no rule that says both roommates have to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, but if your roommate is the type who stays up playing music into the early hours of the morning or, alternately, who needs to have complete silence at 9pm, it’s going to have an affect on you. Making sure you touch on this will help you establish if your lifestyles are a good match.
What’s your policy on guests?
Is your potential roommate going to be okay with you having friends over for an occasional get together? Are you okay with them doing the same? What if it’s less occasional and more of a regular occurrence? Similar to a significant other who stays over all of the time, having friends or family members who come over a lot may be a source of conflict. It’s a good idea to establish whether you have the same ideas about how often is too often when it comes to guests. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to never have guests over, but there should be communication around who, when, and the frequency of visits.
The Perfect Roommate
What’s your ideal roommate situation like?
Some roommates want to be best friends with their housemates. Others are perfectly fine with a general acquaintanceship. Think about what your own ideal roommate situation is like and then ask your potential roommate for their thoughts on the matter. It’s good to have compatible expectations on this front, since it would be a bummer to move in with someone who doesn’t want much of a relationship when you were hoping to be friends or vice versa.
How do you like to spend your weekends?
You can learn a lot about someone from how they like to spend their free time. Is your roommate going to be out partying all weekend or will they be at home playing video games? How does that jive with your own preferred weekend plans? In addition to finding out what they enjoy doing for fun, you’ll also get some insight into how they like to live their life in general.
The best questions to ask a potential roommate are questions that get to the core of compatibility. It’s hard to tell whether you’re going to be long-term friends with someone until you’ve spent some time together, but you can do your part to find out whether any of the common sources of roommate complaints are going to be present from the get-go. Prepare to answer these questions yourself, as well, and to be honest in how you respond. There are a lot of potential roommates out there, and it’s better to cut your losses with one than to sign on to live with someone who might not be a good match for you.
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