18 questions you should ask a potential roommate

Nov 21 2016, 8:14 pm

In a city with high real estate prices, it’s necessary to share living space. Roommates and other co-living setups are the most affordable way to find housing. How do you find reliable, sane roommates? What should you look for in a roommate to make sure you’ll get along?

The obvious answer is to get to know a potential roommate before committing to living together. There’s a fine line between gathering basic intel on a roommate’s lifestyle and being intrusive. Once you’ve created an ad in the online classifieds and lined up some meet-ups, here are some useful questions to get to the heart of the matter.

What do you do for a living?

The first thing you need to establish is whether your potential roommate is capable of paying rent. It politely opens the door to inquire if their job situation is long-term and secure. What they do for a living will tell you a lot about their lifestyle and schedule. Finally, you can find out if they intend to work from home.

How much is your rent now?

If their current rent is significantly less, then they might be overreaching.

Why are you leaving your current place?

You can learn more about what they like or dislike about co-living. If they dwell on past grievances or refuse to talk about it, it raises a red flag.

Do you have references?

It happens at job interviews; it makes sense for roommates as well. Ask for contact details for former roommates. You may also want to check your potential roommate’s social media profile while you’re at it.

Can you put down a deposit?

You need a rent back-up plan if they lose their job. You need a back-up plan if the roommate situation falls apart and you have to pay double rent after evicting them while hunting for another roommate.

How often do you clean, and how do you think we should handle cleaning shared spaces?

Conflicts over cleaning are a leading cause of break ups in marriages and any other co-living situation. Very few people will tell you they are slobs, so asking how often they clean is a way to determine if they prioritize cleanliness. If you’re both slobs, it can work. If you’re both tidy it can work. You can also invest in a house cleaning service together.

What do you want in a roommate?

This is a self explanatory way to get them to open up about their expectations of you.

Do you have any pets?

Good to know for housing laws and allergies.

Do you smoke?

Often a deal breaker.

What’s a normal weekend like for you? Do you socialize at home or party outside of the house?

A double-whammy of linked questions to find out if you’re on the same wavelength with social activities and social activities at home – i.e. your apartment becoming party central. Again, no judgements about party animals or homebodies, you just need to mesh with one another.

What’s your romantic situation?

Adding a new roommate is one thing. Adding a new roommate and their significant other means you should be conducting two interviews.

How do you feel about overnight guests?

You need to know how often there will be a visitor on the couch.

What’s your schedule like? What time do you usually go to bed?

A good way to determine if and when you’ll have alone time or quiet time in the apartment. Their habits affect yours.

How often do you cook?

If you’re both aspiring chefs, you may butt heads in a small kitchen. On the other hand, if one is a cook and the other isn’t, it can work well.

How do you want to handle buying shared supplies? Do you want to share services like Netflix and the printer?

A fast and flexible answer will reveal if you’re dealing with someone who can get things done quickly and easily.

Introvert or extrovert?

A basic personality question to get your potential roommate to talk about themselves a little. Introverts and extroverts can get along well if they respect one another’s boundaries.

Shark or minnow?

This is the basic psychopath test. You can come up with any predator prey combo. T-rex or diplodocus? A cheetah or an antelope? If they laugh, you’re probably safe. If they obsess about the predator in the pairing, swim away.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A catch-all safety question to find out if they have any specific issues or concerns.


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