Everything You Need to Know About Searching for a Roommate

By Lorena Roberts 

Finding a roommate in college can be one of the hardest, most overwhelming things you have to handle. As an adult, you're trying to juggle your grades, your finances, and your living situation -- which often all blend together as one starts affecting the other, snowballing into a much bigger issue than you really wanted it to be.

I remember one of my first roommate experiences was moving into a very tiny dorm room together. My first impression was: this is way too small. They don't actually expect us to coexist in this tiny space, do they? But soon enough, those four walls became homey enough, and we made it through the year.

Eventually, moving out of the dorms and into an apartment was my first experience having my "own space." I was thrust into a summer living situation with three girls I didn't know. Living with people you don't know is probably one of the most awkward situations you can put yourself in - so as you try to fill the other bedrooms in that cute apartment you just found, remember that it's better to live with people you're at least familiar with. Moving into an environment where other people have already commanded the space makes it tough to transition into your new home. So as you look for housing (whether it's in college or not), remember that the people you live with can make or break your housing situation.

Looking for roommates isn't an easy task. There are so many things you need to consider! Before you search Roomsurf, publish an ad on Craigslist or post in one of your many Facebook groups, there are several things you need to ask yourself:



1. What do you value in a good roommate?

Are you looking for someone who makes themselves scarce, are extremely quiet, and won't interfere much with your life? Do you value someone who's sitting on the couch when you get home from work?

Are you looking for a roommate who's actually going to become one of your best friends, or is this simply a living situation?

Before you start looking for a roommate, you need to ask yourself what you value in a roommate.

2. What are your boundaries for other people?

Similar to what you value in a roommate, you should consider your boundaries with other people (especially roommates!).

If you don't want someone who's going to burst into your room at 9:00 at night, you need to make that clear before you move in together. There's nothing wrong with establishing that boundary ahead of time. If you need your space, you need to make that clear in the beginning.

If you're looking for someone who's going to help you cook "family dinners" and will keep up with you throughout the day and the week, that's something you need to think about before you find a roommate.

Regardless of the way you want things, establishing that up front is incredibly important.

3. How many people do you really need to live with?

I find myself trying to squeeze as many people as I can into a house so our rent is as cheap as it can possibly be. You might have this inclination as well. But when it comes down to signing a lease for a year (or even six months!) you should consider what's going to make you most comfortable, not what's going to make it the cheapest situation.

Financially, living with roommates allows you to save more money than if you were living alone. However, consider filling all the bedrooms but one -- give yourself a little room to breathe. Whether you decide to turn your extra space into a home office or a yoga studio, having some extra square footage can be the difference between a happy living situation ... and not.

4. What's your ideal roommate situation?

Whether you're looking for someone to be all up in your business or quietly keep to themselves, before you start searching for a roommate, you need to ask yourself what you're looking for.

Allow yourself to draw lines. You're focused on a thousand different things in your life right now, so worrying about your roommates and whether or not they're going to be up in your business is not what you should be worrying about in your day to day life. So before you embark on a journey of finding a roommate, give some thought to what you want in the end.

5. What's your daily schedule?

For people who are really busy, and rarely home, having roommates it less of a big deal. For those of us who are only in school and spend the majority of our weeks at home, studying, with our pets, it becomes more important to find roommates who will be great matches when it comes to spend time together.

A lot of the roommate search is identifying who you are as a roommate. Do you spend a lot of your time at home? Do you scatter your things all over the house? Do you enjoy hosting parties?

Identifying these things within yourself can help you find roommates who will be a positive addition to your life. If you find roommates on a whim because you want to save money, it's more likely that you're going to end up with people you don't get along with, who actually bother you, and aren't a great addition to life. 

Where should you search for roommates?

People have all kinds of opinions on where you should look for a roommate. If you're in school, consider asking around in your classes or using Roomsurf. If you're a young, working professional, consider networking with other young professionals.

Depending on the stage you're at in life might determine where you should be looking for roommates.

People might tell you that Craigslist isn't an option -- you don't want to get stuck with a creep. But sometimes Craigslist can bring people into your life that you otherwise wouldn't be able to meet. As long as you're doing your research, interviewing heavily, and asking the right questions, I think it's completely fine to search for a roommate on Craigslist.



How do you interview a potential roommate?

Interviewing a potential roommate can be a bit intimidating. You have to feel comfortable taking control of the situation. If you are the one looking to fill up a house/townhouse/apartment, you are in control of who you pick. And definitely don't feel like you have to settle. We're talking about filling up your space with other people.  So what kinds of questions should you ask when you're "interviewing" potential roommates? Here are some suggestions:

1. How often do you clean?

If you're a super clean person, it's probably going to be important to you that your roommate helps out around the house. When your life is going at a million miles an hour, there are too many other things to focus on besides deep cleaning every Saturday. If you're a clean person and it's important to you that your roommate keeps things tidy, don't be afraid to ask them what their cleaning habits are up front.

2. Do you like to have people over?

Before you invite someone to live with you, you're going to want to know if this person likes to be the host of the party or attend get-togethers elsewhere.

3. Are you still friends with your old roommates?

If you're about to invite someone to live with you who isn't friends with their old roommates, chances are, there's a reason. Did they just not get along? Did things get nasty? How did things end?

4. What temperature is most comfortable for you?

Before you even have the chance to argue over how cool/warm to keep the house, approach this topic before you move in together. Having a difference in opinion on this could lead to arguments about the electric bill, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.

5. Do you use the whole house, or do you confine your things to your bedroom?

Knowing whether or not you're going to have to share your common areas with their items is an important thing to know before you move in with someone. Do they keep their shoes at the door, or in their closet in their room? Do they come home and throw their stuff down on the kitchen table, or do they carry their belongings to their own space?

Finding a roommate is always tough -- regardless of your age, profession, or situation. Throughout college, you're probably going to live with several different people. As you move into more places and live with more people, you'll discover the things that are most important to you. Some of it is just simply learning about yourself. Growing up at home, you probably didn't have to share your space with anyone other than your family. Inviting someone else into your home, to share your space, is a huge part of "growing up."

After you live with people, you'll feel like a different person. You'll know so much more about yourself, what you value in a person, and what's important to you in your physical environment.

If you get stuck in a tricky roommate situation, know that this is temporary, and soon enough, this will be over. If things get really tough, look into ways you can evict your roommate (but obviously as a last resort!).

Keep telling yourself that by living with roommates, you're saving yourself all kinds of money and you're learning how to exist with other people in your space. It's part of being in college; it's part of growing up; it's part of becoming who you are.

Before you begin the search for roommates, identify what you're looking for in another person. You're going to be sharing your living space with people - so you need to make sure they're halfway decent. Do you need to agree on politics and foreign affairs? Probably not. But is it important that they clean up after themselves, make themselves scarce, and don't throw huge parties every week? Probably.

Diving into the journey of finding roommates can be overwhelming. Set deadlines for yourself. Give yourself a few days to come up with the perfect social media post, network with your classmates, and find creative ways to solicit roommate interviews. Don't rush yourself -- think of questions that are solid and that truly matter to your happiness.

Before you ask someone to move in with you as a roommate, it's best that you really put time into getting to know their living habits. Otherwise, you've just stuck yourself with someone for a year without really knowing what you're signing up for. And being a young professional, or in college, living with people is the last thing that you need to be worried about from day to day.


Interested in using our roommate matching formula to find the perfect college roommate for you? Create a profile & take the roommate quiz on Roomsurf! Get Started