What’s Your Criteria for Choosing a Roommate?

published Mar 11, 2013
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Taking the time to choose the right roommate could be the difference between a friend for life that you looking forward to seeing at the end of the day (or someone that keeps their distance and causes no trouble), and horror stories you will tell at dinner parties for years to come.

Back in my college days, I unfortunately found myself in the last category, and let me tell you, it is not fun.

Here are some basic tips to go by:

Find someone with the same lifestyle: If you’re a night owl, make sure your roommate doesn’t routinely go to bed at 9pm and turn the house into a quiet zone.

Find someone who has a similar housekeeping style: Unless you have an arrangement that works where one of you cleans and one of you takes on a different chore, you want to make sure you both have the same housecleaning habits. Housekeeping wars and resentment is a horrendous way to live.

Make sure they can pay the rent: It’s best to live with someone who has a steady job that they have been in for a while. If they hop around from job to job that should be a red flag. If their rent is paid by someone else, like their parents, you should have a conversation about when they get the money, etc.

Previous experiences: Ask them about the best and worst roommate experiences that they have had. You can learn a lot about a person by hearing about the troubles they encountered and how they dealt with them.

Decorating Style: What do they have to bring into the house, and what is their style? Are you compatible, and if not, can you come up with compromises?

Find out about guests: How often do they have guests, and how long do they stay?

Pets: Do they have them, what kind, are they responsible for them? Make sure that they will make sure your pet is safe in the case you are not around. I had a roommate who lost my cat and ferret when I was away for the weekend. Sixteen years later and I am far from over it.

Make sure you get along: After the initial meeting it is a good idea to go out with the person for a cup of coffee and just chit chat. See how it feels. Do you enjoy their company, or can you just not wait to get out of there? That will give you a good idea of what it will be like in your home.

How do you pick a roommate? What criteria is important to you?