Roommates aren’t just for college. As more and more people today are finding, it’s often easier to live with at least two people instead of one. This way, you can split costs, and both live less expensively than if you were each living alone.
In addition to simply helping each other live more cheaply, having a roommate can also be a lot of fun. If you’re moving to a new city, it can be helpful to have a built-in acquaintance to help get you started. Even if you aren’t relocating to a new area, it can still be nice to have another person around the house to talk to, share household responsibilities with and perhaps even hang out with.
Of course, it’s easier to do all these things if the two of you get along. But as you might expect, there’s no exact science to guessing whether or not you’ll like a person. Texting or emailing back and forth doesn’t always give you enough information to be sure, and sometimes, even a brief face-to-face meeting doesn’t do it. Our best solution? It’s all about asking the right questions.
Let’s say you’ve connected with a potential roommate. Maybe you met online, or perhaps a friend put the two of you in contact. Either way, imagine you’re getting coffee together for your first face-to-face meeting. How do you most effectively use this time to feel out whether this person and you would work well together as roommates? We recommend roommate interview questions.
Before you go to this meeting, write up a small roommate questionnaire. These might be questions about lifestyle, cleanliness habits, work schedule and other special concerns you have. Put whatever questions you think are important on the list, and when you get to your meeting, don’t be afraid to stage a little roommate interview. Ask your potential roommate your questions and get a feel for where they stand on the answers. The odds are good that they’ve also come with questions of their own, and this way, the exchange of information can be mutual and friendly.
By asking pointed questions and paying close attention to the answers, it’s often very easy to tell whether the person will make a great roommate. Because of this gained insight, we think this interview process is one of the best ways to narrow down your roommate search.
The questions you choose to include in your roommate interview will be different for everyone. Maybe you’re very particular about having guests over, for instance, and you want to ask lots of questions about that. Or maybe you’re very strict about a cleaning schedule but couldn’t care less what hour your roommate is bringing over guests. Maybe you just want a roommate who pays the rent and otherwise keeps to themselves.
Take the time to consider which aspects of sharing a house or apartment are most important to you and center your questions around these. It’s also worth including questions about areas that may not be a huge concern, however, just to gain a general sense of who this person is and what type of lifestyle they lead.
Still feeling stumped about where to start? Here are some ideas to help get you thinking in the right direction.
This question can feel like a little bit of personal one, so it’s okay if you want to save it for later in the conversation, once you’ve broken the ice. It’s also one of the most important questions you’ll need to ask, however, so be sure not to forget about it if you do choose to save it for later. Having a roommate who either refuses to or is unable to make their rent payments is a tricky situation — one you want to avoid at all costs. The odds are good that your roommate will understand the importance of such a question, and they may even ask you the same thing.
If you’re uncomfortable asking this question directly, you might also try asking about their job. How long have they been at it? Do they change jobs a lot? Realize that a history of short-lived jobs may be a red flag.
On one level, this is just a basic get-to-know-you question, like asking them what they studied in school, how many siblings they have or whether they like horror movies. But on another level, this question can tell you a lot about a person. For example, if they work 12-hour days at a major financial office, they’re probably driven, hard-working and don’t have a lot of time for leisure activities. If, on the other hand, they’re a freelance artist, they may have a bit of an unconventional schedule and likely have more of an artistic personality. These are both generalizations, but the point stands that you can learn a lot about a person based on the type of career they’re pursuing.
You can also use this question to make some guesses about their financial situation. For example, if you’re looking to rent a large apartment in an expensive neighborhood, and your potential roommate only has a small part-time job, this will give you good reason to hesitate.
Something like cleanliness might not seem like a big deal on the surface. When you’re living in close quarters with someone, however, it’s the little things that add up over time and lead to roommate breakups. If you find that you’re constantly having to clean up after your roommate, this is almost certainly going to lead to tension and hard feelings over time. Instead, it’s far better to just have clear expectations in this area from the beginning. Whatever your own personal level of cleanliness is, it’s ideal to find a roommate who falls at about the same level.
However, not all of us have an accurate view of our own lifestyle as it might be viewed from the outside. By phrasing the question as “How often do you clean?” instead of “Are you a clean person?”, you may find you’ll get a far more accurate answer.
There’s no need for your schedules to match up exactly. In fact, it might even be handy if the two of you aren’t fighting for the bathroom in the mornings because you have to leave for work at the same time. All the same, it’s best to have an idea of the other person’s schedule upfront. It’s also good to know if they have a regular schedule and attend work or class every day. Get a feel for what their work schedule is, whether they’re typically around on the weekend and if they tend to go out every night or stay in. Make sure their schedule is compatible with yours before committing to live together.
A major red flag is someone who never seems to have a schedule and is always at the apartment. This may be all right if they’re attending online college or have a work-from-home job, but generally, this is a sign that something is a little bit off.
Having guests over is a normal part of nearly everyone’s experience. It’s fine and healthy to invite people over for dinner or just to hang out in the evening every so often. But if your roommate has a habit of throwing wild parties every night of the week, this is something you’ll want to know about ahead of time. Remember to keep an open mind, since perhaps having guests over will be an excellent opportunity for you to make new friends as well, but also don’t feel pressured to allow unrestricted partying.
If asking about how often they have guests over isn’t getting the answers you’re looking for, you might also try being a bit blunter and asking them how often they host parties.
This question isn’t likely to present any major deal-breakers — although it’s good to keep an eye out for that possibility — but it can provide invaluable insight into what kind of person your potential roommate is and what kind of things they enjoy. You may uncover common interests this way, which can make for a more favorable roommate experience. On the other hand, you may also notice something potentially troubling, like an interest in practicing the violin every morning at 6 a.m.
Even if you don’t find interests in common, it’s a good sign if your potential roommate can readily list off a few hobbies. This shows that they have a healthy range of interests and are less likely to be stressed workaholics or someone who never leaves their room.
Most likely, this is information your potential roommate will volunteer on their own, but if they haven’t said anything, it’s best to ask just to be completely sure. No matter how much you may love animals, it’s significant that your roommate is courteous enough to ask about their furry friends ahead of time, rather than just showing up with three dogs on moving day. If they do have pets, make sure you get all the relevant information regarding how many pets and what they are before you make any decisions.
If you’re a non-smoker yourself, and especially if you have any type of allergies or asthma, this is an essential question to ask. If your potential roommate is a smoker, this may not necessarily be a reason to dismiss them out of hand if they seem ideal in every other aspect. Nevertheless, you would likely need to come to some sort of arrangement about where and when smoking is acceptable.
This is a matter of personal preference, but it’s also a subject some people may have strong feelings about. If the idea of having alcohol around frequently makes you uncomfortable, and your potential roommate says they drink regularly, you may not be the best fit. Even if you enjoy the occasional drink as well, it may not be a great match if you’re trying to hold down a serious job, and your roommate is constantly waking up at noon with a hangover.
This question can be enormously telling. If you ask it, and your potential roommate responds with glowing stories of wonderful times spent with past roommates, then this should give you confidence that they are probably easy-going and willing to get along with many different types of people. On the other hand, if they have nothing but horror stories of their past living situations, this may give you pause. It’s possible that they’ve simply had the bad luck to end up in multiple unpleasant situations, but it’s also possible that they were part of the problem in each of those past circumstances.
This is a big one, and it’s critical to know the answer to it right from the start. Is your roommate in a steady long-term relationship? Are they single? Are they engaged and only planning to live with you for a year before they get married? Do they enjoy strings of week-long relationships?
Whatever their relationship situation is, it’s best for you to know about it from the beginning so you can set some ground rules. For example, maybe you’ll ask that there can be at least one or two nights a week with no boyfriends or girlfriends over. Or perhaps you might request that you receive at least an hour’s warning before your roommate brings someone home. Whatever the circumstances and whatever rules you decide on, it’s best to go into this situation with open eyes.
Most people will only list small and inconsequential things as pet peeves. Maybe they’re irritated by roommates never replacing the toilet paper roll after they’ve finished it, or perhaps they can’t stand the smell of peanut butter. But if someone starts rattling off a long and itemized list of complaints, many of which are next to unavoidable, it may be a sign that this person is extremely particular and would be difficult to live with.
Within reason, there are no right or wrong answers to this question. They might answer that they’re only looking for someone to split rent with, but they have no interest in making a new friend. They also might say that they’d love to share dinner once a week, or they might suggest sharing grocery-buying and cleaning responsibilities.
The only thing that makes their answer right or wrong is whether it aligns with your vision of what you’re looking for in a roommate. If you both go into your new partnership with clear expectations of what you’re both looking for, the odds of it working out well are very good.
Are you looking to rent in the Harrisburg area? Once you’ve found your ideal roommate, then it’s time to move on to finding the perfect home. For this, we hope you’ll consider our rental communities here at Triple Crown Corporation. We offer homes in a variety of locations across the area, including our communities in Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Middletown and New Cumberland.
Are you ready to take that first step towards finding your next home? Browse our communities today to learn more about which one might be right for you.