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What To Look For in a Roommate

Jul 28, 2022

As you go out to live on your own, odds are you will stumble upon a living situation that involves a roommate, and in most cases, a good roommate can be hard to find. This blog will cover everything you need to know about roommates such as questions to ask a potential roommate, where to find a roommate, good roommate qualities, bad roommate qualities, and how to choose a compatible roommate.

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The Importance of Finding a Good Roommate

Whether you’re heading to college, relocating for work, or moving just for a change of scenery, picking a good roommate is imperative to your overall well-being. Roommates, whether they have been appointed to you by choice or by necessity, can play a huge role in your day-to-day life, financial stability, and mental health.

College is many people’s first time living away from their families, and having a good roommate can make all the difference. Being away from your family sometimes means lacking a convenient support system, and a suitable roommate can help fill that gap. Roommates also tend to carry a significant role in your academic success, as having a chaotic living situation can add unnecessary stress on top of the already existing commotion of college life.

In another scenario, you may be looking for a roommate as a financial obligation. In this case, a good roommate is all the more important. A good roommate will pay half of the rent on time and ease your finances, as you will be able to cut many of your costs in half. On the other hand, having an unreliable roommate can cause endless troubles for you and your financial stability.

The best roommates can become your lifelong friends, but a bad roommate can make your living space crash and burn if you don’t know the proper things to look for in a roommate or ask the right roommate compatibility questions.

This article will discuss the good qualities in a roommate to look for, the bad qualities in a roommate to avoid, and how to find a roommate in a new city. The information below will leave you feeling confident that you now have the skill set to find the perfect roommate.

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Top 5 Things to Look For in a Roommate

No matter where you are in life, or what reasoning you have behind looking for a roommate, there are five essential qualities that make a good roommate. Below we have outlined what to look for in a roommate.

1. Cleanliness

Splitting bills is one thing, but having a roommate also means splitting chores. Make sure your potential roommate has a compatible sense of duty and expectations when it comes to cleaning.

Having a messy roommate can be frustrating, and on the flip side, having a roommate that has an exceedingly high standard for cleanliness can become stressful. Keep in mind that cleanliness also involves basic hygiene and organizational habits.

2. Lifestyle

Sleep schedules, food preferences, drug and alcohol usage, pets, and entertainment preferences are just a few of the lifestyle choices that will play into your compatibility with your potential roommate.

Sleeping at different times could cause disruptions in each other's lives, differences in food preferences can cause tension during grocery runs, conflicting inclinations to use drugs or alcohol can put a strain on your roommate relationship, the ownership of a pet can cause agitation or stress, and varying entertainment preferences can create living room conflict.

To live peacefully with a roommate, your lifestyles don’t have to be the same but similar enough to be compatible.

3. Responsibility

A strong sense of responsibility for finances and safety will be crucial in finding a good roommate. Be sure your potential roommate is financially stable and will take the responsibility of paying for their portion of rent and utilities on time and in full. Having a roommate who is financially unreliable will prove extremely stressful for both your mental and financial well-being.

Additionally, your roommate has to be responsible in terms of safety. When you’re sharing a living space with someone, you’re also putting your trust in them to lock doors, follow fire code and building regulations, and only invite over trustworthy people.

A portion of your financial and physical safety will be in the hands of your roommate, so make sure your potential roommate is trustworthy enough to bear these responsibilities.

4. Personality

Personality seems like a given, but just because you hit it off well with someone at the start, doesn’t mean your personalities will be compatible in the future.

It’s good to look deeper than a surface-level connection as two introverts could create unspoken tension, whereas two extroverts could create too many arguments. It’s good to find a roommate who you will get along with, but also one who balances your behavior.

In simple terms, if you’re an introvert it might be good to have a somewhat extroverted roommate who will help you get out of the house occasionally, and if you’re an extrovert it might be good to have an introvert who will encourage you to stay home and have alone time every so often.

Through it all, the most important personality trait to look for is someone who is considerate.

5. Occupation

A person’s occupation is a look inside their daily schedule, financial stability, sense of responsibility, and personality. If your potential roommate has a job that requires them to work graveyard shifts, it could disrupt your personal sleeping schedule, and on the other hand, if you’re a night owl and your roommate works early mornings, you may run into conflict.

Additionally, if your potential roommate works a job where their pay solely relies on a commission or tips, a job where they work in an unstable field, or a job that is inconsistent with scheduling, you may run into financial difficulties.

Bad Roommate Qualities: What to Avoid

At a certain point, much like any relationship, you’ll have to accept and understand that every roommate will have certain faults or quirks. However, that’s not to say that certain negative traits should be overlooked.

It’s good to be understanding when it comes to small disagreements and differences, but you should create a list of your own personal dealbreakers and avoid the following bad roommate qualities:

  • An unemployed roommate
  • Unhygienic roommates
  • Closed communicators
  • Aggressive roommates
  • Self-centered, selfish, or egoistic roommates

It may help to do a test run with your roommate to get a good perspective on who they are and how they treat other people by taking them on a “dinner date.”

How they treat the waiter, how they tidy up (or don’t) after the meal, how they respond to the bill, and how they react to any delays or difficulties during the meal can all give a good insight into who they are as a person and how they might be as a roommate.

How to Find a Roommate in a New City

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Moving, in general, is a chaotic task, and moving to a new state or city can be daunting. Finding a good roommate will be more crucial than ever when you’re creating a home base somewhere new.

First and foremost, your top priority when looking for a roommate should be safety. Especially being in a new city, prioritize asking potential roommates for references (previous roommates, previous landlords, coworkers, employers, etc.). You can also look through social media for possible red flags, or, if necessary, you can ask for permission to run a background check.

With this in mind, here are some tips for finding a new roommate in a new city.

Search Your Inner and Outer Circle

Sometimes your potential roommate is closer to your reach than you think. According to John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, we’re only six people away from knowing everyone on the planet. So, odds are, if you’re moving to a new city, you may have a friend of a friend who is living there as well.

This method is arguably the best way to find a roommate and could also be the safest option, as you will already have a mutual connection.

Utilize Applications

Bumble BFF, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media applications are all great tools to utilize when looking for a new roommate in a new city. However, the world is becoming increasingly advanced, and nowadays there are applications and websites specially designed for roommate matching.

Try checking out:

Take Advantage of Alumni Networks

Most high schools and colleges will have alumni groups set up on Facebook that you can join to find and meet new people who went to the same school or university. These alumni groups are a great way to network with a vast amount of people with whom you already have at least one thing in common.

Good Questions to Ask a Potential Roommate

It’s hard to tell at the surface level if your potential roommate has met all the criteria for good qualities and clears the list of red flags and deal-breakers. For this reason, it’s always safe to dig a little deeper to make sure they truly meet your standards.

Sometimes questions about finances, cleanliness, and lifestyle can be awkward to ask, but it’s essential to get your answers regarding these basic compatibility categories.

In tandem with the good qualities to look for and the bad qualities to avoid, consider asking your potential roommate some, or all, of these questions:

  • How often do you currently clean your living space?
  • How often do you plan on inviting friends over?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What is your typical weekday and weekend schedule?
  • Do you have any allergies, dietary restrictions, or specific food preferences?
  • How often do you smoke or drink?
  • Do you work from home, and if so, how often?
  • Are you still friends with your old roommates?
  • What are you looking for in a roommate?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • Do you have any references?
  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  • Are you currently in a romantic relationship?
  • What are your pet peeves?
  • What is your least favorite chore?
  • How often do you travel?
  • How often do you plan on not being home?
  • What are your personal deal-breakers when it comes to roommates?

Remember that it isn’t about the questions you ask, it’s about how you ask them. Try not to be too overbearing, interrogational, or disrespectful when asking your potential roommate these personal questions.

Be sure to introduce any ground rules you intend to set for your living space to see how they react. Also, ask them about any ground rules they’re planning to set to see how compatible you may be.

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Once You Find the Perfect Roommate, Clean Your New Space

Keep in mind that to find a compatible roommate, you have to be an excellent roommate as well. You can’t expect to have a good roommate situation or relationship if you’re the one exhibiting red flags.

A great way to set a good first impression as an ideal roommate is to make sure your new living space is clean and ready for you and your new roommate to live in. To ensure your new space is ready to go, consider hiring professional move-in cleaners.

To leave a good exiting impression, you can also hire move-out cleaners to handle your former residence to help you and your roommate get your security deposit back. Moveout.com is your one-stop shop for finding trusted move-in and move-out cleaners.


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Article written by Megan Phung

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