Questions to Ask a Potential Roommate When Living Off Campus
BY ELAINE THOMPSON
As you leave home for college,don’t forget the most important part of finding a comfortable living situation away from campus—finding a roommate you get along with. After all, there’s no RA to make sure your new roommate follows the rules, and it’s a lot harder to get out of a lease with a landlord than it is to switch dorm rooms.
The following are ten questions you should ask to make sure your roommate is the right match.
- How much time do you like to spend at home?
When looking for a roommate match, it’s important to figure out if your lifestyles and schedules mesh. If you’re a homebody who likes to hang out with a roommate at the apartment, choosing a roommate who’s always on the go may not work out. But if you like to stay home and like your alone time, a roommate that’s out and about could be the perfect match.
- Early to bed, or late to rise?
Another lifestyle question. If you’re an early riser and your roommate is up until sunrise, you can expect some disturbed sleep. Likewise, if you like to stay up late and your roommate is demanding quiet hours after 8pm, you’ll find yourselves at odds. Apartment living isn’t quite as up-close-and-personal as dorm living, but you’ll still be sharing a space, so matching up sleep schedules will save a lot of headaches and a lot of cranky mornings.
- How often do you check in with roommates?
Are you someone who checks in with your roommates often, or do you tend to keep to yourself? Are you looking for a roommate who’ll keep tabs on you and one you can keep tabs on? You should find a roommate with a similar stance on this, so that you can come to an agreement on how long without contact before getting worried. California is a safe state when it comes to missing persons, but you definitely don’t want a roommate who’s not going to notice you’ve been gone days at a time.
- How do you feel about smoking, drinking, and recreational drug use?
For some roommates, drinking in the apartment, smoking in the apartment, or drug use in the apartment can be a dealbreaker. For others, not having a welcome home for these activities is a dealbreaker. Make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to these “recreational pursuits.”
- Do you play a lot of video games?
You might be surprised to know that gaming can actually have a huge impact on life at home. Video and computer games, especially ones that use streaming and have chat features, can use up a lot of your wifi bandwidth. Having a roommate who is constantly pwning n00bs while you’re studying can be especially annoying when your laptop screen is stuck on the spinning wheel of death right as you’re trying to submit an assignment.
- What is your romantic situation?
Having a roommate with a significant other often means basically having two roommates for the rent-paying price of one. If you’re opposed to someone always having “company,” be up front about that before signing a lease—and do them the same courtesy by sharing your own relationship status.
- What are your feelings on pets?
Another thing roommates need to agree on right away is the presence of pets in your place. Besides obvious lease rules about owning a pet or the added cost to rent if there’s a pet in the house, if you’re allergic to dogs or cats and your potential roommate has a furry friend, that obviously won’t work. Beyond allergies, some people just don’t like dogs or cats—or prefer them at a distance. Get animal-aligned before moving in.
- What are your feelings on having a gun in the house?
Some people like to have a firearm in the house for safety, for recreational shooting, or for hunting. Others are vehemently opposed to having a weapon at home. This is an often-over-looked point, but a huge safety step when you’re living with someone new. And you should definitely make sure that if your incoming roommate does have a firearm, that it was legally obtained including a background check.
- Do you plan on having friends over often?
Are you a social butterfly who likes your living space to be a hub of activity? Or do you prefer to keep the party away from where you sleep? If you and your roommate have conflicting ideas about residential socializing, it can make things pretty darn uncomfortable.
- [Your question here]
Of course, only you can know best who you’re going to jive with and how you want to be able to mesh with your roommates. While it’s always a good idea to ask the basics and make sure the person you’re going to be living with will keep your home environment a safe space, it’s important to ask questions that communicate your personal values as well. The better aligned you and your off-campus roommate are, the more harmonious life will be.
Finding a roommate who matches you on every little quirk is impossible. But by asking insightful questions (and picking up on their general vibe) you can take some healthy steps to ensure that your off-campus experience will be safe, freeing, and fun.
Elaine Thompson is a graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City where she got her BA in Communication. Alongside a fulltime job, Elaine enjoys the hustle and writes for multiple online publications.