As graduation season approaches, a lot of people are soon going to be finding themselves leaving their college towns and heading to the nearest city. Living alone isn’t always in the budget for recent grads, so most will seek out a roommate. Even if they can afford to live alone, some people simply aren’t ready for that stage in their life yet. There are such great social and safety benefits to living with another person that many people will find themselves with a roommate throughout their 20s.
Interviewing a future roommate can be a stressful thing. It’s almost like interviewing for a job — but this person will learn all about your weird habits and see your dirty laundry (literally and figuratively). Learning as much as you can about someone before deciding if you want to live together could save you from countless arguments down the road. Take my “been there, done that” advice on this one. Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable in their own home because they aren’t getting along with their roommate.
Whether you’re moving into your first apartment or are ready for a new roommate, here are 12 important questions to ask someone before signing that lease together.
1. What do you like to do on the weekends and in your free time?
This question will help you figure out how well you guys will get along. If your potential roommate loves to go out every weekend and you would rather stay in and catch up on the latest Netflix series, it might not be the best match. It’s hard to live with someone who likes the exact opposite that you do.
If you don’t know the other person well, this is a great way to learn if you have any common interests — such as yoga or cooking. These might be activities you guys can do together and can be the basis for getting to know each other.
2. What do you do for a living? Will there be any difficulty for you paying the rent on time?
Although what they do will most likely come up naturally in conversation, it is important to know if there will be any concern for them holding up their half of the rent. Learning more about their profession will also give you insight into their lifestyle and values. If this is someone you met online, it is even OK to ask for a proof of employment. Although it may be uncomfortable in the moment, you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not paying for both of your rent.
3. How often do you cook meals at home?
This will give you some insight on how often they will be in the kitchen and how much space they will need in the fridge and pantry. It might be difficult for you both to be cooking your own extensive dinners in a small kitchen every night! Be sure to discuss ground rules for sharing food and kitchen utensils as well.
4. Are you in a relationship? If so, how much do you predict your significant other being over?
Sometimes when your roommate is in a relationship, it can feel like having an extra roommate (without them contributing to the rent). If they are in a serious relationship, you can probably expect a lot of sleepovers. It’s OK to set boundaries with your future roommate on this one. No one wants to feel like a third wheel in their home or wait for the bathroom in the morning when they’re trying to get ready for work.
5. How do you feel about pets? Do you plan on getting one?
If you have a pet, you’re going to want to be aware if they have allergies or if they just aren’t an animal person. If having a dog or cat isn’t your thing and neither of you have a pet yet, let them know that you’d prefer it stayed that way. If the apartment has a no-pet policy then this won’t even be a matter of concern.
6. How often do you travel?
This is essentially asking them how often they expect to be gone so you can know how much you’ll have the place to yourself.
7. Do you like to have guests over?
It could become a headache if you like to come home after a long work week and relax and your roommate wants to have loud get-togethers. Or if your future roommate’s job requires them to work late nights at home, that might mean having friends over for Bachelor Mondays might be out of the question. On the other hand, if you both enjoy entertaining, your place could become everyone’s favorite hang out spot!
8. What do you like to keep the temperature at?
This is something you’ll definitely butt heads over if you’re not on the same page. If you and your future roomie are on opposite sides of the spectrum, come to a comfortable thermostat temperature that you both can live at. This is a super simple compromise! You don’t want the roommate that is going behind your back to change it every night.
9. What does your typical daily schedule look like?
This will give you an idea of how often they will be home and how much alone time you’ll have. Nobody wants to feel like their roommate never leaves the apartment. Conflict may arise if your schedules are too similar and you guys both shower, watch tv, do laundry, etc. at the same times. You’ll also have problems if you want to take a nap after work and your roommate likes to do an at-home Zumba class in the living room. Be sure your day-to-day schedules fit together nicely!
It’s also important to know if they like to go to bed early and need complete silence to fall asleep. This might be difficult if you like to stay up late listening to music.
10. How do you envision us splitting up chores?
Cleanliness can definitely be a deal breaker when looking at potential roommates. It’s almost impossible for a clean freak and a slob to cohabit. Get them talking about chores to get a basic understanding of how important cleanliness is to them. You don’t want to end up being the only one who is cleaning the whole apartment.
Designate who is cleaning what part of the apartment and when. Communicate when you feel like they aren’t doing their share of the household work. You can also ask which chores they love and which ones they can’t stand. They’re more likely to keep up with the chores if it’s something they enjoy doing!
11. Do you smoke?
Though most apartments have strict rules against smoking, but some don’t. Most of the time a non-smoker does not want to live with a smoker for several reasons. This could be a deal breaker for either one of you. It is OK to even ask how often they smoke and if they can keep the smoking to outside only.
12. What are you looking for in a roommate?
Some people are looking for a best friend in their roommate — someone they can go to Sunday morning brunch with and confide their dating problems in. Others are just looking for someone to split the rent with and to be left alone at the end of the day. It’s good to know beforehand if you both want the same thing out of the situation.