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Questions to Ask Before Deciding to Live with Someone

By Kaitlin Hurtado

If you have the opportunity to move out, one of the harder decisions may be finding who to live with. Deciding to live with someone may not be the first thing on your mind when you think of your upcoming independence, but deciding to live with someone will come up when you realize you may not be able to handle the burden of rent alone and need to find other people to share your room or apartment with.

It's hard enough to find someone to live with, but finding your ideal roommate is even harder when they are so many factors that will lead to your final decision. You may think you are the best roommate ever, but finding someone to match your idea of a matching "best roommate" can be tricky depending on your standards.

There are plenty of factors that go into deciding who to live with, such as which of your friends are available, how well you get along with someone, and how clean you are. If you find yourself struggling in deciding who to live with or if the person you are considering to live with is the right choice, here are some starting questions to ask when you are deciding to live with someone.

 

What is your daily routine like? 

This question may seem personal, but it's a good starting point in getting to know the type of person you are going to live with. Deciding to live with someone is a personal choice as you are going to be sharing your personal, living space with them. Asking for your potential roommate's daily routine gives you a first taste as to what kind of person you are considering as a roommate. Many things can be learned from knowing someone's daily routine. You get to know how much time they spend out and about or at home, what kind of things they like to involve themselves with, and much more.

Ask them to describe their typical day. What time do they usually wake up to start their day? Do they take a lot of naps? Do they stay up all night, only to sleep well into the next day? Sleeping schedules are often revealed when a daily routine is described as you can get a general read on their sleeping habits, which may be very important if you are planning on sharing a bedroom with the person. You don't want to have them up all night trying to be productive (and very noisy) as you try to sleep, or be an early riser when you love to sleep in. Finding someone with a similar sleeping schedule will help you avoid later conflict that can come up when you realize you and your roommate run on completely different schedules when it comes to sleep.

Finding out when common routine factors, like showering, can also be helpful when it comes to deciding to live with someone, no matter how trivial it may sound at first. If you both have a similar schedule, down to the same shower times, living together may be less than ideal when your daily fights spark from something as simple as who gets to shower first.

Likewise, the activities they list out when describing their daily routine will also reveal how much time they spend in and out of the house. If they say that they only really go out when needed, like for class, you may want to consider how that would affect you if you decided to live with them. If you like to stay home and have your own personal time, but they are always home, living with them may not be your best bet if you are going to be sharing a room with a lack of personal space.

Getting to know an individual's daily routine prior to deciding to live with someone may save you the trouble of realizing that you and your roommate run on clashing schedules, which can lead to future roommate conflicts.

How do you feel about having guests over?

A common cause of conflict between roommates is on contrasting opinions on having guests over. Before deciding to live with someone, it's important to ask them about how they feel about having guests over - especially if you know that you feel strongly about having guests over.

You can think it's perfectly okay to have guests over, even if it's having a friend inside while you grab something to change into. However, someone else may want to keep their living space extremely quiet and not want any guests over. It's important to find a common ground regarding guests - both daytime and nighttime - prior to deciding to live with someone as you want both yourself and your roommate(s) comfortable in their own living space, regardless of the time.

Make sure you also draw a distinction between overnight guests and daytime guests. Someone may be okay with the occasional guest over at daytime with a heads-up text, but be strictly against having any overnight guests.  It may not seem like that much of a big deal, but for those with significant others that want to spend the occasional night or two, not being able to spend time together just may be a deal breaker when it comes to deciding to live with someone.

If you know you hate your roommates having overnight guests over or when people come over without any warning, make sure you make that clear to the person you are deciding to live with. Alternatively, if you know you love to have friends over at your apartment all the time, make that apparent when deciding to live with someone. It's unfair to you if you can't have any guests over at all if your roommate doesn't want anyone over, but it's also unfair to your roommate if you are always bringing someone over without permission, leaving them feeling uncomfortable in their own living space.

When discussing your respective thoughts on having guests over, you may also want to discuss what you think of having parties or larger gatherings at your apartment. You definitely don't want to live with a party animal and only find out when you realize that your roommate has been throwing parties several weekends in a row.

What is your definition of clean? 

An even more common cause of conflict between roommates is getting into fights over the cleanliness of your living space. To avoid such conflicts, it's important to ask about someone's idea of clean before deciding to live with someone.

If asking someone if they are clean or not, they can say that they are a clean person and think they are being completely honest. However, once you live with them you may realize that the "clean" they were talking about isn't even close to what you think "clean" should be. Instead, make sure to ask what they consider as clean. Asking this instead will allow you to gauge just how clean, or dirty, you can expect them to be as a roommate.

Having the same definition of clean will make living with each other easier as you both will have the same standard of cleanliness to uphold. You won't have to worry about telling them to clean the countertop, only for them to clear it off without actually wiping it down with anything. It's important for both parties to be honest in this case, if you know you are the type to clean once a week, whenever you find time to clean - make sure your future roommate knows that so that they don't expect you to be cleaning up after yourself as soon as you make a mess.

At the same time, while you may say you are pretty relaxed when it comes to cleaning your own personal living spaces, you may have a different standard when it comes to common living spaces, like your living room, kitchen, and/or bathroom. If you want dishes cleaned as soon as they are used, or for everything in the living room to be neat and tidy at all times, be sure you make those desires known to the person you are deciding to live with. This will decrease the chances of you constantly having to remind them to pick up after themselves or worse, having to pick up after them.

If you discuss cleanliness standards and possible cleaning schedules before deciding to live someone, you will help eliminate the future headache that comes with nagging between roommates regarding cleanliness.

 

What do you expect out of a roommate? 

Just like how everyone has a different standard of cleanliness, everyone has a different idea of what a roommate should be and all have their deal breakers when it comes to deciding to live with someone. Asking your potential roommate what they expect out of a roommate is a great way to figure out the expectations that your roommate holds and can also potentially reveal what you can expect of them as a roommate in turn.

Some people think of getting a new roommate as a great opportunity for making a new friend. They may want to become very close to you, meaning, they'll ask to spend more time with you, whether it's time spent having movie nights in your living room or tagging along with your friend group for dinner. This may sound like an ideal scenario as you'll be on friendly terms with your roommate, but you might want to think about what you want out of having a roommate. If you just want someone to live with and get along with casually, you may find their attempts to incorporate themselves into your life aggravating or troublesome, especially if you want time at home to be your own personal time and they attempt to spend any and all time at home with you.

On the other hand, if you are the type of person that wants to become best friends with the person they are living with, you may want to ask what your potential roommate's idea of a roommate is as they may just want someone to share a living space with, and nothing more. This may mean that you have to prepare yourself to give your roommate a lot more room than you would regularly give your roommate or potentially finding another roommate if you want to be close with the person you live with in order to be comfortable in your living space.

This question will also entail figuring out with your potential roommate's lifestyle choices when they explain what they expect out of a roommate. If they say they don't want to have to keep constant watch of their roommate, it probably means that they want a clean and orderly space, and don't want to have to constantly nag at you to do your share of the cleaning.

If they have a smoking habit, they might expect you to be okay with that, or any other normally undesirable habits (constant overnight guests, partying, etc.). They might reveal this as "I want someone that is okay with all my lifestyle choices" and if they are being vague, you might want to consider asking them for more details or explaining what you are okay with (the occasional overnight guest) and what you definitely are not okay with to avoid later conflicts.

Remember that both of your wants and needs are important, and if both of you have completely different expectations of roommates, it's okay to keep looking for a roommate elsewhere.

These questions are discussion starters to help you in deciding to live with someone. It's important to be honest in discussing the answers to such questions as you definitely don't want to be called out on lying about a clean person when you are clearly not, or for your roommate to reveal a pet that you had no prior knowledge of when you move in together.

While someone may not give you the ideal answer you are looking for, don't completely rule them out of your housing decision. Remember that compromise is always an option and that both of you can work toward reaching a starting line that works for both of you as potential roommates.  These questions and their following answers may help you decide on finding your best possible roommate.

 


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