Random Roommate vs. Choosing A Roommate: Which Should You Do?

By Kaitlin Hurtado 

Roommate horror stores – we have all heard our fair share of them. They can stem from a multitude of factors: messy roommates, random roommates, roommates’ significant others, or even roommates that you had the opportunity to choose for yourself. Regardless of the cause, roommate relationships can turn sour fast but also become roommate success stories just as fast.

Roommates are what you make of them, and you can take multiple steps to make sure that your roommate is as close to your ideal fit as possible. One of your first major decisions when it comes to choosing your ideal roommate is choosing between getting a random roommate or deciding to choose a roommate for yourself.

There are many pros and cons to both options and the “right” option varies from person to person. If you are wondering whether to choose your next roommate or leave it to fate to pick a roommate for you, here are some tips to help guide you to the option that is best for you in your upcoming decision:


Roommate Finder: Random Roommate vs. Choosing A Roommate: Which Should You Do?


What are you looking for in a roommate?

Consider what you are looking for in a roommate. Do you want to come home every day to someone that will be willing to hear how your day went or what’s on your mind? Someone that is going to be down to hang out whenever you want to knock on their door or head out to grab a meal? Or do you want someone that is simply going to cohabitate with you and keep things clean and simple in your shared living space?

If you are looking for the latter, you may be better off deciding on getting a random roommate. Most of the time, going the random roommate route will have you filling out a survey that covers most of your roommate habits and what someone should expect from living with you (roommate behaviors, cleanliness, typical routines, studying habits, etc.). Most of the time, the roommates you do end up with have similar habits to you and won’t be causing issues due to conflicting issues or habits.

When it comes to wanting to be close with your roommates, you may be more comfortable seeking out your own roommates instead of just relying on a random roommate to be your new best friend. Random roommates can become quick friends too, of course, but relying on yourself to pick your own roommate can ensure you are picking someone that you are comfortable with from the get-go.


Think about previous experiences with roommates

When it comes to picking a new roommate, think back to previous roommate experiences you have had, if you have had any. If you have had previous roommates, use them to your advantage, regardless of whether they were a great fit or a horrible fit. Consider what you liked about your previous roommates, and what you didn’t like.

Maybe you went with the option to pick a roommate for yourself in your last situation. The situation could have gone great, it was a close friend and your friendship was only strengthened by living together and seeing each other all the time. At the same time, living with a close friend can negatively impact your friendship. You can be great friends with someone, but you can be not-so-great roommates when you experience living with each other.

Or maybe you opted for a random roommate and it went well. Think about why it went well. Did your roommate fit all your roommate survey answers perfectly? Or did they fit a few key answers perfectly to make living together the ideal living situation? If you have the opportunity to fill out a survey again, pick your same answers to increase your chances at getting another ideal roommate at random.


Want to keep your living space private?

If you are one to savor your own private living space, opting to pick a random roommate may be in your best interest. You do not need to worry about your friends invading your space when you do not want them to if you go the random route. If you choose to live with your friend, you may be facing multiple situations in which your friend group invades your living space or find your friend asking to spend every waking moment with you when you are home.

When it comes to keeping your private space a private space, living with your friends may not be the best idea. They may take every opportunity to spend time with you. Cooking breakfast? Cook breakfast for two. Looking to spend time by yourself binging on your latest Netflix obsession? You may need to move over on the couch to make room for your friend-turned-roommate.

You can still choose your friend as a roommate and not have it turn out badly, but it’s important to set guidelines on defining your personal space or your “me time.” When it comes to random roommates, however, they are most likely going to be okay with not being the best of friends as long as you respect each other’s living spaces.


Student Roommates: Random Roommate vs. Choosing A Roommate: Which Should You Do?


Choosing: What kind of person are you choosing?

If you are considering picking your own roommate, what kind of person are you choosing to live with? Choosing your own roommate can go multiple ways, but the end result you are looking for can heavily depend on how close of a friend you are going to be choosing to live with.

While your best friend may be the person you go to with your deepest concerns and the person you call up when you are looking for a good time, they may be far from what your ideal roommate is. You can get along on a personal level, but when it comes to roommate-related issues, you may be on opposite ends of the spectrum. You can be very clean, but your best friend’s idea of “clean” is picking up after themselves once every few weeks. The small differences that come out due to different roommate habits can create a big divide in your personal relationship.

At the same time, someone that is in your circle of friends that is also looking for your roommate can be your ideal roommate situation. You may not be two peas in a pod when you are considering your social circle, but when it comes to being roommates you can be a perfect fit.

Opting to choose your own roommate doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pick your closest friend by default, but if it means you are comfortable with your roommate, picking a friend to be your next roommate can still be a good decision.

If you are worried about how becoming roommates with your friends can impact your friendship, consider testing the waters. Ask what their own roommate habits are if you are serious about becoming roommates, or even scoping out each other’s living spaces if you want to see how they treat their own living space.


Opting for a new experience? Go random

Picking a random roommate does not need to be a roommate horror experience. If you play your cards right, you may end up with the roommate of your dreams.

Your experience with a random roommate can depend heavily on the system you are using to pick your future roommate. If you are going through campus housing (dorms or apartments), you will typically be required to fill out a roommate survey. The survey is full of questions that will narrow down the list of people that will suit your roommate needs.

Of course, this means you are relying on an outside factor – an automated system – to make sure you do not end up as the next roommate horror story, but one system is better than no system. The roommate surveys are in place for a reason, so if you are not lying to get what you think you want as a roommate

Opting for a random roommate may be overwhelming at first, but you will never know if it is the perfect option for you unless you try – don’t be afraid to go for it.


Worried about comfort level? You can be comfortable both ways

When it comes to worrying about whether or not you will be comfortable with one choice or another, you don’t need to be worried about one being comfortable or uncomfortable. Living with someone you know very well can be the obvious choice if you are looking for a comfortable living situation. You already know the person on a personal level, so you will not have to worry about awkward run-ins in the hallway or too scared to call them out for possible wrongdoings.

However, a random roommate – a stranger – doesn’t have to be the obvious uncomfortable option. Living with someone that is basically a stranger doesn’t have to be your worst option. Get to know them when you first know your housing situation. Discuss what you expect out of each other as roommates or even simple topics that will help you get to know each other to make you feel like you are not living a complete stranger.

You can make yourself comfortable with either option if you take the right steps to make yourself comfortable. Set guidelines when it comes to choosing your friend as a roommate. Discuss how it could possibly change your relationship, and how you can avoid the possible negative changes and protect your friendship. If you opt to go random, remember that you can still be comfortable. Get to know them prior to moving in and remember to still set guidelines about living together so that you can take proper care of making sure that becoming roommates goes smoothly.


When the going gets tough, random roommates may be the better option

Think of how close you and your friend are, and how you solve conflicts that come up between you. Maybe one of you has bailed on set plans before, leading to the other giving the cold shoulder. How did you solve the conflict and resume your friendship?

If you have realized how fights have negatively impacted your friendship in the past, becoming roommates may not be the next best step for your friendship. There are bound to be conflicts between roommates, no matter how small, and you do not want small conflicts to ruin your friendship. The dishes were left in the sink for more than a few days, or maybe your friend keeps bringing their boyfriend over. These things would do little to no harm to your actual friendship, but when it comes to being roommates on top of being friends, the small roommate conflicts can become personal and rather ugly.

If you are nowhere near sure on how becoming roommates can affect your friendship, you may want to stick to the option of getting a random roommate. There is a greater chance that their living habits will not clash with yours if you are getting matched through a survey-based system and is there an even greater chance your social circle will come out of the leasing plan unscathed if you pick a random roommate.

You won’t have to worry about how roommate conflicts will negatively impact your personal relationship with your roommate if you are simply roommate. If they really do end up being your own personal roommate horror story, you can stick it out until the end of your lease without having to worry about lasting damages to your personal life.

Being able to choose your own roommate may seem like the easiest option at a glance when you can pick your own friend, but it may not be the simplest option when you think about the lasting consequences.

Do not let everyone else’s roommate experiences shape your own roommate experiences. Remember that the choice between getting a random roommate or choosing your own roommate has no right or wrong answer. Pick whatever choice you are going to be more comfortable with because it is going to be the decision you are going to be living with.


College Roommates: Random Roommate vs. Choosing A Roommate: Which Should You Do?

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