Vetting a New Potential Roommate

By Kaitlin Hurtado

If you’ve ever talked to anyone who has lived with a roommate, you can surely recall at least one complaint associated with their roommate situation. Some are lucky enough to have small complaints limited to a dirty dish or two, while others are unfortunate enough to experience roommate situations that had them forced to look for alternate housing options as soon as possible. If you are currently looking for a roommate, you know how important it is to find the right roommate to make your future living arrangements a positive and comfortable one.

Regardless of how well you know someone, you do not know them as a roommate. Even your closest friends could turn out to be the worst roommates if you guys do not have common ground in your living situation. Whether you are looking for a roommate within your already established friend circle or searching among strangers, vetting a new potential roommate can be a stressful task. Keep reading for tips on vetting a new potential roommate, including critical questions to get to know them as a roommate.

Student Roommates: Vetting a New Potential Roommate

What is your schedule like?
Depending on your potential living space, you may be in very close quarters with your roommate. If you expect to have your own bedroom and bathroom, the schedule of your roommate may be less of a worry, but if you are sharing a bedroom and/or bathroom, scheduling can be a quick cause of conflict. For example, if you have a roommate who is a night owl while you are an early morning person, running on two different schedules can cause conflict when one roommate wants peace and quiet while the other goes about their daily routine.

On the other hand, if you are sharing a bathroom and have to get ready at the same time for classes or work, you don’t want to have a roommate hogging the bathroom when you need it to get out the door on time. Discussing your schedules with a potential roommate can help you figure out if you are compatible and avoid conflict from the get-go.

What is your expectation of the living space?
Everyone has different expectations of their living space, and having different expectations from your roommate can also become a source of conflict. For example, one roommate may want the apartment to be the meeting spot for their friend group, meaning multiple people will be over at the drop of a hat. This can mean multiple people in your living space at any given time, contributing to noise and mess levels on any given day. Another roommate may be a homebody and want a private living space where guests are more limited.

If these two different roommates were to live together, one can imagine the type of conflict that would come up daily. Ideally, you want a roommate that has a matching expectation around how their space is going to be treated – will it be more private between roommates or is it going to be the designated hangout space with overlapping friend groups?

What is their cleanliness expectation?
Anyone who has shared close quarters with another person understands that each person has a different understanding of “clean.” Some will not bat an eye over cluttered surfaces and overfilled trash bins, while others have the expectation that cleaning is an essential part of everyone’s routine.

Whatever the case may be for you, it’s an important question to ask a potential roommate. You don’t want a roommate demanding you to clean up after yourself when you don’t see an issue, or on the other hand, you do not want to be constantly picking up after another roommate who is okay with having a messier space.

Are they the type to wash their dishes immediately after using them, or do they think it’s okay to leave them for later in the day or overnight?

What is your worst habit?
No one likes to point out their weak points or bad habits, but they will quickly become clear when you live with someone and see them on a daily basis. Asking a potential roommate what their worst habit is can give you a clear and honest idea of what kind of roommate they can be, and if their “issues” are actual issues to you or something you do not see as much of an issue.

What are your pet peeves?
Similarly, understanding what your potential roommate’s pet peeves can help you paint a clearer picture of whether or not you would get along as roommates. For example, if their pet peeve is someone who leaves dirty dishes and you know that is a habit you have never been able to kick, you likely will not be getting along as roommates.

Vetting potential roommates can be a bit time-consuming, but will be well worth it when you find yourself getting along with your roommates and living comfortably in your new space.

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