30 Questions to Ask Potential Roommates
Taking on a roommate can help you save a lot of money. It not only means splitting the cost of rent but also of utilities, internet bills and possibly even household goods like groceries and toilet paper. Living with somebody is also a great way to combat loneliness since you’ll usually have someone else at home to keep you company.
That said, while having a roommate comes with its perks, it also means welcoming another person into your home — your haven. If you don’t see eye to eye on certain major issues, the roommate dream can quickly become a nightmare. That’s why it’s so important to vet potential roomies thoroughly. Here are 30 questions to ask a potential roommate.
Have You Had a Roommate Before?
There is some roommate etiquette that can only be learned through experience. Living with another person requires a lot of compromise and consideration.
It can be reassuring to know that this person has had roommates in the past — so you aren’t left teaching them the ins and outs of cohabitation.
Do You Work From Home or at an Office?
Some apartments or houses can support two individuals working from home — some cannot. If you work from home, it’s essential to know if this roommate will as well since you’ll both require a home office space and quiet areas to take meetings.
Sometimes, two people working in the same abode is just not a good match.
Are You a Morning Person or Night Owl?
While morning people and night owls can make it work, they’re usually happiest with their own kind.
A slight variation in schedule is no big deal, but if you like to get up at 6 a.m. and your roomy doesn’t even go to bed until 2 a.m., you could find yourself arguing about quiet hours.
Do You Like to Have Friends Over?
It’s smart to set some ground rules surrounding guests and have a common understanding of what sort of household this is. Is it the hangout spot, where friends can often be found lounging around any night of the week? Or, do you prefer to limit guests and ask that roommates do their socializing outside of the home?
Whatever your habits, it’s best to communicate these in advance with a roommate.
Why Did You Leave Your Last Home?
Your new roommate should be comfortable sharing with you why they left their former living situation. If there is any hesitancy to answer this question, it’s possible that they were the source of the rift with their last roommates.
You want a roommate who ended former living situations on good terms.
Can I Speak to Your Former Roommates?
You’ll want to speak to some references, and some of these should undoubtedly be former roommates. They can give you a sense of what it’s like to live with this individual and warn you of any red flags.
All in all, if you get good reports from a handful of old roommates, this living situation could work out.
What Is Your Employment History Like?
Consistency and responsibility are two important traits in a roommate. The way someone is as an employee can tell you a lot about how they’ll be as a roommate.
Ideally, a potential roommate will have had long bouts of employment at the same place. If they’ve struggled to keep a job, hopping from one to another every few months, they could fall short when it comes to being reliable (and paying rent).
Can You Comfortably Pay the Rent?
While this question isn’t always comfortable, it’s important to get out of the way. Having an open and honest conversation about it can prevent heartache later.
The golden rule is that no more than 30 percent of one’s income should go to their rent. If this roommate would be dedicating much more than that to the rent, then they could face financial hardship down the line.
What’s Your Cleaning Routine Like?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but the answer that most closely matches your own would be best. If you like to give the whole home a thorough cleaning once a week, you won’t be happy living with someone who only does that once a fiscal quarter.
Likewise, if you lead a busy life and can’t tidy up every day, you’ll feel guilty about living with someone who keeps things spotless.
Do You Have Any Pets?
Some applicants will not reveal that they have a pet until further in the interview process — or the day they move in! Taking an animal into the home is a big change. It means cleaning up pet hair, possibly dealing with accidents in the house, listening to barking and other inconveniences.
If you’re an animal lover, a roommate with a pet is a perk. If not, this could be a deal breaker.
What’s Your Daily Routine Like?
It’s wise to get a sense of what this person’s day-to-day life looks like and see if it’s compatible with yours. You could find out that they like to sprawl out with their laptop, workout equipment and snacks in the common area all day.
Maybe that doesn’t work for you. Or, perhaps you’ll discover that they’re away from home most of the time.
What Are Your Hobbies?
Asking about someone’s hobbies helps you get to know their personality a bit more. It also lets you know what sort of clutter you’re signing up for.
Someone who is into, for example, brewing beer from home is going to fill your place with large barrels and all sorts of kitchen items. An arts and crafter could cover the surfaces with craft supplies. This is good to know ahead of time.
What’s Your Biggest Pet Peeve?
Tell this individual that they’re free to be totally honest. You just want to know what their biggest, cannot-live-with, drives-them-crazy pet peeve is.
If it turns out that it’s a behavior you not only do but love to do, this isn’t a good match.
Can I Run a Background Check?
If the individual prefers that you don’t, that’s already a big red flag. If they can explain in a calm way something you might find on there and it’s not a deal breaker for you (like a drunk-in-public ticket), it might be OK.
But if they won’t even share why they don’t want you to run the check, run for the hills.
Do You Have Furniture?
If things are going well and it looks like this new arrangement is moving forward, you’ll need to know how much furniture each person is hoping to contribute. You can’t both add a huge couch to the living area or a refrigerator to the kitchen.
Your new roommate will need to make arrangements to get rid of or store duplicate pieces.
Where Have You Lived the Last Five Years?
If you don’t want to be back on the roommate hunt again in a year, you might want to find someone who plans on sticking around.
It’s a good sign if this individual lived in just one or two places over the last five years. On the other hand, if they tend to move every six months, that trend could continue.
Are You a Quiet Person?
You know what sort of household you want. Maybe you like to play music throughout the day, enjoy lively phone calls with friends and have the TV on in the background. A very quiet person won’t jive with that.
On the flip side, if you need your home to be a peaceful sanctuary, you wouldn’t want a roommate who fits that first description.
Why Do You Want a Roommate?
Some people just want a roommate for financial reasons. Others are looking for a friend. Ask yourself which of those describes you — and find a roommate in the same boat.
If your social life is pretty busy, and you just want to save money on rent, you aren’t a good fit for someone looking for a new best friend out of this arrangement. However, if you’re hoping for a roommate who will hang out with and go out with you, you’ll want to find someone who is open to that.
How Do You See Us Handling Groceries?
If you’re territorial about your food, you won’t want a roommate who treats themselves to your groceries. However, you might be looking for someone to share the cost of groceries with and even to cook with.
It’s important to be on the same page about food rules to prevent arguments.
Do You Have a Significant Other?
When a roommate has a significant other, you could be unknowingly signing up to live with that person, too. If the relationship is serious, that partner could be over all of the time, and three’s a crowd.
Find out if this roommate is single. If not, set some ground rules around how often partners can be over.
Will You Have Overnight Guests?
Even if your roommate is single, they could have overnight guests. Maybe they love to have out-of-town visitors frequently, or after a night of partying, invite friends to crash on the couch.
If that’s not something with which you’re comfortable, be sure to state that in advance.
Do You Smoke?
If you’re used to a smoke-free home, then having a roommate who smokes will require some strict guidelines. It’s important they know that they can only smoke outdoors and that you don’t want cigarette butts and ashtrays littering common areas.
On the flip side, if you’re a smoker, potential roommates deserve to know that up front.
Will This Be Enough Storage Space?
Storage wars go on between roommates and can get ugly. Walk this potential roomy through your home, showing them exactly how much storage space they will have.
Be sure they are OK with that before letting them move in. And make sure they understand that your storage space is spoken for.
If You Had an Issue With Me, How Would You Address It?
Communication is key if you want to have a healthy, happy roommate dynamic. Ask this individual what they would do if they were unhappy with you about something.
It’s important to see that they have thought this through and have quality conflict resolution skills.
What Are Your Bad Habits?
Everybody has bad habits. Anyone who tells you they have none is lying or simply doesn’t realize they have bad habits.
The happiest roommates are self-aware and are accountable for their mistakes. It’s good if a potential roommate can be honest about their flaws — it shows that you can talk to them about those, too.
Are You An Introvert or Extrovert?
Maybe you want a roommate to chat with when you get home at night, and you like to make small talk whilst in common areas. Perhaps, you’d prefer a ships-passing-in-the=night dynamic.
Whatever it is that you’re after, make sure your roommate is on the same page. If you’re an introvert who needs alone (read: quiet) time at home to recharge, you won’t want a chatty roommate.
How Important Is Privacy to You?
Everyone has different boundaries and levels of comfort when it comes to privacy. Some people leave their bedroom door open and don’t mind when a roomy wanders in, grabs a seat and starts hanging out. Others keep their door shut, require that you knock and prefer you only do so when it’s urgent.
Having a roommate who requires a similar level of privacy as you will make for the best arrangement.
Do You Like to Know Your Neighbors?
If you have a great relationship with your neighbors, you want a roommate who will keep that community spirit alive and well. However, some people don’t want to know their neighbors.
If you get the sense this roommate would ignore neighbors, not participate in block parties, fail to help out neighbors and so on, they won’t be a good fit for your home.
Do You Like to Cook at Home?
Cooking at home is a great way to save money and eat healthy, but you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen — literally.
If it turns out that you both like to whip up four-course meals every night, using every appliance and mixing bowl, you’ll find yourselves with a messy kitchen and a lot of tension, fast.
Do You Have Any Deal Breakers?
Finally, ask if this person has any deal breakers. It’s important to put it all out there from the beginning. You can lay out your deal breakers as well.
If either of you says something that won’t work for the other, you can walk away now and save yourselves headaches.