Questions You Need to Ask When Looking for a Roommate
Finding a roommate can be difficult and time consuming, but it’s important to put the time in now so you don’t have to deal with an incompatible roommate later on. When looking for a roommate, it’s important to ask a lot of the questions that will weed out anyone who may annoy you with their habits—or who you may annoy with yours. While these are some of the most necessary questions, there may be others that are especially important to you.
What do your typical weekdays and weekend days look like?
This is arguably the most important question you can ask. Understanding their entire schedules will help you get a feel for how much time you might have to yourself. It will also help you get a feel for whether or not your schedules will collide. This question entails a lot, and you may need to ask follow up questions to get all of your answers. Some additional questions may be:
- When do you typically wake up and go to sleep?
- Do you work from home?
- Do you like to go out on weekends?
How often do you like to clean?
This is a subtle way to ask someone if they are messy or neat. Even if you know you’re more on the messy side and don’t mind if your roommate isn’t the cleanest person, it’s important to ask this question to make sure you won’t butt heads. One other question you may want to consider is, “How do you feel about dishes being left in the sink?” If you’re the kind of person who will leave them in the sink over night to soak or just to do in the morning, then you’ll want to make sure that this isn’t something that is going to annoy your roommate every single day. Some other questions you can ask about cleaning include:
- What are your least favorite chores?
- Would you consider splitting the cost of someone cleaning the common areas in the apartment?
- How have you and your previous roommates handled cleaning?
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had in previous living situations?
If they bring up all of their roommates and issues that they had with each one, then that may be a red flag. If, however, they bring up issues with landlords, repairs, obnoxious neighbors, etc. then you can learn about how they handled these situations and maybe even have a good laugh. Some follow up questions might include:
- What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to landlords?
- What’s your worst roommate horror story?
How do you feel about overnight guests?
This question is important no matter how you feel about the topic. Even if you and your roommate aren’t currently in relationships, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page about significant others (or friends) sleeping over. You may even want to decide on general rules like no consecutive nights without discussing it first or adjusting utilities if someone is staying over more than two nights each week. It may not be a big deal for either of you, but discussing it beforehand can save you a lot of headaches and stress down the road.
What do you like to do for fun on the weekends?
If they say they love to have people over for drinks before going out every weekend, but you really like to have quiet time or are going to be studying nonstop on the weekends, then it might not be a good fit. If you’re hoping for some time to yourself in the apartment every now and then, but you both plan to be home most weekends, then once again, it may not be a good fit. You should both be able to enjoy your weekends, so make sure to ask some of these follow up questions if necessary:
- What would be the best way to ask to have the apartment to myself for an afternoon?
- Would you be interested in finding something to do together on some weekends?
- Do you go to bed or wake up at different times on the weekends?
- Do you prefer to go out with your friends or have them come over?
What are you looking for in a roommate?
Different people are looking for very different things from a roommate. Some people may be looking for a good friend. Others may be looking for someone who they won’t see very often. Of course, there are a bunch of people who want some sort of in between. Some good follow up questions, especially if they haven’t really thought about this question before are:
- Did you just move to the area? (this will help you understand how many people they know in the area)
- In previous roommate relationships, did you do anything like watch a TV show together or go to happy hours together?
- If I had people over for a movie night, do you think you would join?
If we had a conflict or disagreement, how would you like to handle it?
Obviously you’re hoping that this won’t happen, but chances are that you will disagree on something at some point. Some roommates have monthly check-ins to discuss any mild concerns or issues. Others are more timely with their feedback for each other and say something the second it comes up. You’ll want to discuss your general communication styles and figure out the best way for both of you to discuss any problems. If you generally like to avoid confrontation, it might be a good idea to have a designated time to discuss issues. No matter how you decide to discuss any problems you run into, it’s important to remember that you’re living in a shared space, and both of you deserve to be happy and comfortable.
Even with all of the questions in the world, you still may run into a dud of a roommate. That being said, if you go over all of these questions in advance, then you’ll have a pretty good idea about how you’ll get along with your roommate. Try to be as honest as you can (even if you don’t want to admit that you never dust) in order to avoid setting expectations that you won’t follow.