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14 Top Tips for Living with Roommates: How to Find the Perfect Match

Having a roommate has countless benefits, from splitting bills and chores to affording a city, perhaps Boston, MA or San Diego, CA, that you may not be able to on your own. As an added benefit, you may even find that you enjoy having their company. But, before signing a lease with someone, it’s essential to know if you are compatible with one another. 

We asked experts for their best tips for living with roommates and the right questions to ask to find a good roommate. Read on to explore expectations, routines, hobbies, finances, and more. 

“What do you value most about your home space?”

The answer may seem obvious to you, but it can differ so much from person to person. For example, my roommate needs our space to be clean and tidy. She loves cleaning on a Sunday and works to make it an organised space. It differs slightly for me in that I need my home to be tranquil, a safe space. I don’t like chaos or stress, as this is where I come to escape it. Those two values are similar enough to work together while being different. Find out if your future roommate prioritises your shared home being clean, calm, unique, personal, social, or something else entirely. – Symptoms of Living

“Do you have a habit of going to bed early or late?”

Because some people have to get up early for work and others have to work night shifts, the conflicting schedules may disturb each other’s sleep if you can’t be respectful of that time. Getting a roommate with the same sleep/wake schedule is ideal so you aren’t making noise when the other person is trying to sleep. This also allows you to feel comfortable enough to go about your day without bothering your roommate. – Home Sweet Home Sharehouse

“Are you interested in being a member of a community, or do you just need a roommate?  “

People can have very different ideas about what living together means. Community-focused housing includes weekly or monthly meals together, shared activities, discussions, decision-making about the home, and getting involved in the neighborhood. Many people have never had these activities or conversations with their roommates. It may be difficult at first, but it allows everyone to gain more skills and communicate better, leading to fewer misunderstandings that can lead to people moving out. Discovering their views and articulating your perspective on community is an important way to understand whether the home is a good fit. – At Home Housing

“Do you have special diet restrictions or food preferences?”

Knowing someone’s food preference and the severity of their preference is important when living with a roommate. It can be a dealbreaker if one roommate is a meat-eater and the other isn’t. How people store and prepare food will impact everyone in the household. A roommate on a plant-based diet may not enjoy waking up to the smell of bacon in the morning. – Enclave Coliving

Diet restrictions or food preferences can cause a fracture in the roommate relationship if they’re not on the same page. It’s about the person’s appetite, and it could go from a debate to an argument. Have an open and honest conversation about dietary restrictions and preferences at the beginning of the roommate interview and make a decision based on their answers. Find out what your roommate avoids eating or drinking, and be sure to ask how they feel about cross-contamination. Having a roommate with different eating habits or diets can be fun. You can try new foods together, cook together, and they might inspire you to eat in a new way. – iROOMit.com

“How will you pay for rent?”

I’ve seen a few situations where a roommate suddenly can’t pay rent, and everyone else is stuck with the bill. You must know if your roommate has a job or another source of income to pay for living expenses. Since most students are on a shoestring budget, it can be stressful to pay another couple hundred dollars if someone else comes up short. – Bob Buckley, Founder of This College Life

“Can we agree to boundaries and space so we can be productive?”

Coliving, by design, attracts a diverse set of people at different stages and transitions in life, both professionally and personally. Therefore, the most critical question to ask a fellow flatmate is if they will provide you with the necessary privacy and personal space to pursue your personal and professional goals. – Prabhat Kumar Tiwary, Founder and CEO,  YourOwnROOM

“What are your habits/preferences for housekeeping?”

People often underestimate how much contention this can alleviate – just knowing what’s important to each other regarding keeping the apartment clean. Are dishes in the sink a big pet peeve? Will you divide up the chores (like cleaning the bathroom)? Are you messy? Living with someone like-minded will make life a lot more pleasant at home. – BRC Multifamily Management

“What are your roommate deal breakers?”

What you don’t want in a roommate can be more important than what you do want. Of course, we’d all like to be best friends with our roommates, but that’s not always possible, and it’s hard to gauge. Common deal breakers are if someone is a smoker, slob, or any other frequently-cited roommate annoyance. – ColivingCircle

“What is your social life like and how often do you have guests over?”

When living with new roommates, most people ask questions regarding their living styles, such as “how often do you clean?” or “are you a morning or night person?” People often miss questions exploring their social life, and it’s important to understand how your day-to-day life will be at home with your new roommates. – The Ridge Clemson

“Are you a musician? Will you be using our shared space to practice?” and “If you lose your job unexpectedly, do you have another way of paying your rent?”

There are quite a few renters that are involved in the music industry in Nashville, and as a result, many apartment communities in Music City offer soundproof jam rooms. If your roommate is a musician, their practice schedule will not negatively affect your sleep schedule or study time. 

One thing a lot of first-time renters don’t consider is what happens if their roommate stops paying their portion of the rent. It’s important to remember that whoever is on a lease for the apartment will be responsible for providing the total rent, regardless of how you are splitting the payment with your roommate privately. Have a discussion ahead of time with a potential roommate and maybe even prepare a written contract separate from the lease that outlines who is responsible for whatever amount of the rent you agree upon. Find out if they have a savings account or a backup plan in case of an unexpected life event that could affect their ability to pay their portion of the rent.  – Nashville Apartment Locators

“How often do you cook, and what is your favorite recipe/dish?”

Cooking is an integral part of living with roommates. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, meal prepping for the week ahead, or planning a feast with your flatmates, it’s always important to know what everyone likes regarding food. Find out if you’ll cook at similar times and how you’ll allocate fridge space. Whether you love cooking or ordering takeout, you can share the passion and delivery cost. If neither of you cook and you want to learn, you can do so together. Knowing their favorite recipe or dish can also be a great conversation starter. You can learn more about them and maybe also learn about a new dish. – Casa Mia Coliving

“Do you drink or use drugs?”

This is a critical question that people often forget to ask until too late. Living with a roommate is a quick and significant commitment – you’re quickly entering into a major financial obligation with someone. Ask all of the questions that might be important before making that commitment, even if it may feel a little awkward. If you like to keep alcohol in your apartment, and your potential roommate doesn’t, that might not make a great combination. – Apartment Insiders

“What shows or sports do you watch the most?”

The living room usually only has one screen. If your roommate has different tastes in terms of content, it could make for a frustrating experience because one of you will always have to compromise. On the other hand, bonus points if you both get super excited for the big sporting events; you bond over shared experiences on top, and invite friends over to boot. – Passionfruit

“How often do you have guests and how often will they be staying overnight?”

If you’re already sharing a home with multiple people, the last thing you want is for your roommate’s partner to be over so often that they are essentially another tenant. Not only will they be using up utilities without paying their fair share, but having an outsider in your home all the time will prevent you from feeling comfortable, so much so that you may start feeling like the guest. – Kevin S. Mpunga, Co-founder and CEO of Elev

Good dialogue is key

Next time you chat with a potential college roommate, make sure to throw in as many of these questions as possible. Not only will their answers be telling as to how compatible the two of you may be, but they are also great conversation starters. If the two of you can make good, easy conversation, that is a sign you may also be amazing roommates. So, ask away and find the roommate that’s right for you! – Diplomaframe.com



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