Moving in with a significant other or a friend can have its ups and downs. But, finding a roommate you know nothing about – whether it’s someone you found on Craigslist or an acquaintance you know little about – can be a bit intimidating. Before signing a lease or agreeing to live together, learning as much about your potential roommate as possible is important.
Living with a roommate is not for everyone, but for those who choose to, it can be a positive experience. It allows you to live independently while also having company in your apartment. A roommate is someone you can split chores, bills, and other expenses with. It’s also an opportunity to live in a city with a high cost of living. So, have you been eyeing an apartment in Austin, TX? Or perhaps a rental home in San Diego, CA? A roommate may help you achieve that rental home.
Whether you’re moving into someone else’s place, they’re moving into yours, or you’re both new to the apartment, it’s critical to learn as much about the potential roommate as possible before signing a lease together. Dive into daily routines, hobbies, expectations, finances, and more. Here are 28 questions to ask a potential roommate before setting a move-in date.
Find the best roommate for you
A potential roommate is someone you’ll likely see every day, so it’s imperative to find someone compatible with you and your daily routine. During the roommate interview, be straightforward and look for someone whose lifestyle, personality, and expectations can work alongside yours. Sharing a space isn’t always easy, so finding a roommate who makes difficult situations a little easier is a bonus.
Questions to ask potential roommates about expectations
1) What are your deal breakers? Pet peeves?
It’s important to find out before it’s too late. Do they expect their space to be orderly at all times? Do they hate the smell of cologne? Be sure to pick up on any hints about the habits of a potential roommate that might align with one of your pet peeves, too. Everyone has their quirks, and sometimes you have to compromise.
“Being aware of what aggravates one another will not only help you make an informed decision but also avoid potential conflicts while living together,” shares Diggz, An online marketplace to find roommates that match your lifestyle and preferences. “You might find someone who claims to be very clean and likes to keep the place in order at all times. But will they flip out if you leave a dirty dish in the sink for 30 minutes? That might not be a big deal if you are just as clean. However, if you are generally clean and sometimes have “oversights,” you might argue with your roommate every time it happens.
“As roommates, you’re bound to have disagreements, but knowing and accepting each other’s pet peeves will help you avoid crossing the line and maintain mutual consideration and respect,” adds Diggz. “Or, you’ll realize you won’t be good roommates and keep searching.”
2) How do you feel about sharing?
Some people simply like to keep their belongings to themselves. Be sure you’re on the same page when it comes to sharing anything, from clothes to groceries. Also, think about shared spaces. How do you designate drawers in the bathroom or space in the fridge? Or, would you both be okay making those space more communal?
3) What’s your confrontation style?
Disagreements happen and will likely occur when sharing a space with someone. Establish an effective way to resolve conflict when it arises and before a situation escalates.
CoHousing Houston, an urban village inside in East End suggests asking yourself, “Am I willing to trade a little bit of convenience for a whole lot of connection?” They go on to say, “Sharing space with people means you might not get to have things exactly your way all the time, but it also means that you won’t suffer from isolation or loneliness.”
4) What do you do when you’re stressed, sad, or grieving?
You’ll likely see your roommate at their worst, and it’s crucial for you both to know how to react and how one another can support each other. Some people require personal space, and others prefer to talk things out.
5) What temperature do you prefer to set the thermostat to?
This can be a more significant challenge than it may seem, but discussing with your potential new roommate about the ideal indoor temperature is essential.
“Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a smart climate-controlled home, your apartment or house will most likely have central heating and cooling,” says Diggz. “Being on the same page with your prospective roommate on how hot or cool they like the house or apartment could help you avoid arguments down the road. You might like the AC blasting throughout the summer, and your roommate might like to crack a window open and get fresh air. Make sure you agree on an ideal temperature for both summer and winter. Remember that keeping the place at the desired temperature has cost implications. Address it upfront and avoid sweating over it when the time comes.”
6) What’s your worst habit?
This question goes hand-in-hand with question one. Maybe your potential roommate has a habit of leaving dirty clothes in the bathroom, not cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen, or even forgetting to lock doors. If these are deal breakers for you, it’s a good sign that you aren’t compatible. Feel free to share your worst habit, too.
7) How do you decompress after a long day?
After a long, stressful day, everyone has their strategies to decompress. Do they take a long nap or go for a long run? Veg out in front of the TV or relax their mind with meditation? Go into a baking frenzy? Stake out your rituals early.
8) Do you have food restrictions or any allergies?
Be aware of a potential roommate’s dietary restrictions. If you can’t live without peanut butter but they have a severe peanut allergy, living together might not be the best choice. Be sure to uncover all allergies and restrictions upfront.
Questions to ask potential roommates about their lifestyle
9) Are you still friends with your old roommates?
Conflict happens, after all. But, if a potential new roommate has nothing but negative experiences to share about former roommates, let your inner skeptic take charge. If they seem hesitant about answering this question, this can also be a bad sign, and it’s best to carry on your search to find a good roommate. Now’s the time to also ask about any references or ex-roommates you can speak to.
10) What do you like to do after work? On the weekends?
The answer to this question can tell you whether this person is generally a homebody or likes to spend their time away from home. If you enjoy hosting get-togethers or other in-home activities such as cooking or meditation, try to work out a schedule so your and your roommate’s events don’t coincide with one another. Or maybe you discover you have common interests and can establish a connection around that.
“If you have decided to live in a shared space, this question can be critical,” states Urban Campus, a Coliving and Coworking Community. “Moving to a new city alone is a big step, and you should be proud of yourself for getting this far, but you don’t have to do the rest alone. Creating genuine experiences, visiting new places, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people are what we believe to be important aspects of your life, so even if you move here alone, you will be a part of something bigger.”
11) Do you smoke? Drink?
Smoking and drinking can be a deal-breaker, so it’s essential for both of you to be open about this. If either of you smokes, you might want to consider adding a clause in your agreement stating that smoking is prohibited inside the apartment. Set ground rules around drinking, too. Find out their drinking habits, like do they typically drink a glass of wine or have a beer with dinner, or do they drink primarily on weekends with friends in their apartment. Share your drinking habits so you can try to work something out. Even if you’re okay with smoking and drinking, consider setting ground rules around both.
12) How often do you have friends over?
Do they host dinner parties, have friends over all weekend, or bring their friends over during work? Know each other’s schedules and social habits to know if it will fit with your lifestyle.
13) Do you have pets?
Renting with pets has its pros and cons. If you or your prospective roommate have a pet, always comply with your building’s pet policy. Sometimes pets aren’t allowed, period.
Find apartments or rental units that allow pets if you or a prospective roommate have any. Even pet-friendly buildings sometimes have certain restrictions, such as breed type, dog size, and the number of pets.
If a potential roommate already has a pet, be sure to meet them before moving in together. Lastly, it’s important to talk about the financial obligations, rules, and responsibilities of pets. Will the pet be allowed on all the furniture? Will you both be responsible for taking the dog on walks? Cleaning out the kitty litter? Or, if you or your potential new roommate were considering getting a pet, but one of you has pet allergies, you might consider ruling out pets entirely.
14) How often do you travel?
This is a great question to gauge how often you’ll actually be sharing your living space with the other person. If you value your alone time, finding a roommate who frequently travels for business or visits family often might be the way to go.
15) Have you ever been arrested?
If someone answers “yes” to this question, you can’t assume they’re a bad person or wouldn’t be a great roommate. But, be sure to get the full story before signing the lease.
Questions to ask potential roommates about their habits and routines
16) What is your typical routine? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Are the hours past midnight their time to blast music? Do they eat dinner extremely late, or make breakfast before the sun rises? Or perhaps they hop on the treadmill at 4 a.m. to get a sweat on before the workday. You and your potential roommate’s schedules don’t need to be the same, but if they’re different enough, you’ll need to learn how to accommodate each other’s routines and probably make sacrifices.
17) What time do you go to bed and wake up?
If your sleeping schedule is wildly different from your roommate’s, you may end up getting less sleep than you require, says Priit Kallas, founder of FixWillpower, a site with ideas on how to reach your goals. “Set rules for quiet time that let you get enough sleep.”
18) What are your cleaning habits and routines?
Cleaning is arguably one of the most important subjects. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons why conflicts arise among roommates. Do they put away dishes after each use? Wipe kitchen and bathroom countertops down? Vacuum regularly? Which household chores do they despise? Which one do you loathe? Learn about their cleaning habits, then you can divvy up cleaning chores and split tasks accordingly.
It’s important to note, however, that one person’s version of “clean” can be drastically different from your version. And remember, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you or the prospective roommate is clean or messy, just that your expectations align.
19) Do you work from home? What is your typical workday schedule?
We’re in the work from home era, and there are definitely pros and cons to having someone in the apartment all day. The electric and water bills may be higher for sure. However, having someone around to accept deliveries or be home for any home services, like setting up WiFi or letting the apartment cleaners in, might be a benefit. Choose what is more important to you.
Questions to ask potential roommates about finances
20) What’s the max you can spend on rent? Can you put part of the deposit down?
Rent increases are very common at the end of a lease cycle, so it’s important to find out whether your future roommate will be able to pay their share. Find out if they can split the security deposit, along with first/last month’s rent.
21) How will you pay for rent?
You don’t want to be late paying rent – or end up paying your roommate’s portion of rent because they can’t afford it. Be sure to find out if they have a steady source of income or money to pay for rent. You can even ask for references from previous roommates or see a pay stub.
“Graduate students often plan to move in with classmates after getting accepted to their dream school,” says Admissionado, a college admissions consulting company. “For young professionals, it’s very important to consider not just your roommates’ current situation but also what the next stage of their life could be. You don’t want to be the only person trying to stay in the apartment after graduation or find that your relaxed roommate has transformed into a 90-hour-a-week investment banker who demands silence whenever they’re home. People tend to linger in apartments longer than they initially planned–it’s never a bad idea to imagine what that might look like.”
22) Are you OK splitting utilities evenly?
It might not be worth the trouble if your prospective roommate is going to keep track of who uses more water or power. The apartment utilities cost can vary by building, city, and month. Find out if they’re comfortable splitting utilities down the middle.
23) Have you ever struggled to pay rent on time?
If your potential roommate has ever been in a situation where they couldn’t pay rent, knowing the story and how they handled the situation will tell you a lot about how a similar situation will unfold if it happens again.
Questions to ask potential roommates about compatibility
24) What do you want in a roommate? Are you looking for a new friend or just a roommate?
Be sure you are on the same page about your roommate relationship. If one of you is looking for a new best friend while the other prefers to keep their distance, the situation could end up rocky. Learn their expectations of the living arrangement.
25) Do you have any references?
This is typically already a requirement from the landlord or property manager, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle for your potential roommate to provide references. Past roommates, landlords, co-workers, employers, and family friends are all great resources. Ask for their phone numbers and emails.
26) What are some challenges you’ve faced in past living situations?
Noisy neighbors, lack of hot water, negligent landlords, and mold infestation are tough situations to deal with. Find out if they’ve ever faced a challenge like this and how they handled it. It can enlighten you on how they’ll handle less-than-perfect circumstances that may occur in the future.
27) Do you think we’d get along?
Your prospective roommate needs to be on board just as much as you are, and if they can’t see you two getting along it might be time to keep looking.
28) Anything else I should know?
This open-ended question can reveal a lot about a person. This can reveal other habits, hobbies, or expectations that weren’t mentioned in previous conversations.
Selecting a roommate is no easy task. Ideally, you want to end up with someone you are compatible enough to share a small space with. Asking potential roommates these questions is an essential part of the process and may determine your contentment at home. Be thorough, pay attention, and listen to your gut.