What’s covered in this article – click on a link to learn more:
- Find a GOOD Roommate
- Define Your Roommate Criteria
- Questions and Interviews
- Background and Reference Checks
You’ve just landed your dream job in a big city, far from your college campus or hometown. It’s an exciting new chapter, but the cost of living here isn’t exactly student-loan-friendly. So, you’re on the hunt for a roommate. Not just to split the rent but maybe someone who can be your unofficial tour guide too. You want to save a few bucks, sure, but you also try to create a home away from home.
The problem is you don’t know how to find a good roommate or even where to start looking. That’s what we’re here for and promise to only take roughly 10 minutes of your time. Whether you’re looking to split costs, find a companion or just need someone to tell you which subway line gets you to work fastest, you’ll be well-equipped for your roommate search by the time you finish reading this blog.
Getting that perfect roomie match is important because let’s face it, sharing your space with someone should be a walk in the park, not a walk on eggshells. You can start the timer now.
Find a GOOD Roommate
Making sure your home is a place where you can unwind and be yourself is considerably more important than deciding who takes out the trash. After all, the right fit means a better life at home.
For instance, you could share movie nights instead of arguments over the TV remote. With the wrong roommate, you could face endless disagreements, from clashing lifestyles to who pays for the Netflix subscription. And money matters. A roommate who’s reliable with their share of the rent and bills means no surprise expenses or awkward conversations at the end of the month.
Need another reason before you realize your goal is not just how to find a roommate, but have it be a good one? Well, a home should be a team effort. When roommates are on the same page, chores and responsibilities get shared, not shoved onto one person. This makes everyone feel at home. I know I’ve had clashes with roommates in the past — not great, wouldn’t recommend it, I’d give this type of experience a 4 out of 10.
Did you know? A survey by Rent.com in 2021 revealed that cleaning habits were the biggest roommate pet peeve for renters. Poor communication ranked second, far behind cleaning. That paints quite a picture and, for me, also brings back unpleasant memories. Moving on.
Define Your Roommate Criteria
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks — you need to know what you want before you start looking for a roommate. Some of those qualities will be absolute must-haves and others will just be nice to have. The thing is you have to be realistic and adjust expectations based on what you offer. Here are the top factors to consider before you give that roommate finder a go.
Lifestyle and Habits
Are you a night owl or an early bird? Imagine sharing your space with someone who has the opposite routine. It’s like trying to sleep while someone’s having a party in the next room. Decide what kind of daily rhythm works best for you.
Money is a tough topic, but you need a roommate who pays their share on time, every time. You don’t want to end up covering someone else’s rent or arguing over electricity bills.
Remember that survey about cleaning habits being the top roommate gripe? Keep that in mind. If you can’t stand dirty dishes piling up, say it upfront. A clean freak and a messy Marvin? Not the best combo.
Some like their home as a social hub, while others prefer a quiet sanctuary. If you love hosting game nights, make sure your roommate is on board. Or, if you prefer peace and quiet, find someone who shares that same vibe.
If you’re working from home and your roommate’s a drummer, you might need a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. Jokes aside, matching work schedules or at least understanding each other’s professional demands is something you shouldn’t overlook.
Pets and Smoking
Allergic to cats? Can’t stand cigarette smoke? These are deal-breakers for many, so it’s better to be clear about them from the get-go. There will be no hiding once you share the same space.
It’s time to separate these factors into non-negotiable criteria and optional preferences.
- Non-negotiables are your deal-breakers, so write them down. Whether it’s no smoking, no late-night parties or a strict budget, these are the things you can’t compromise on.
- Optional preferences aka nice-to-haves are your bonuses. Love cooking? A roommate who’s a foodie would be a plus. Dreaming of a gym buddy? A fitness enthusiast might be a better match.
Take your time, think it through and be honest with yourself about what you really need in a roommate. Be prepared to answer honestly too.
Questions and Interviews
When you meet potential roommates, think of it as the middle ground between a job interview and getting to know a new friend. Try not to be intrusive or clenched, but touch upon everything that matters to you. Here’s what you can give it a try with:
- Why are you hunting for a new place?
- Walk me through a day in your life, if you don’t mind. What’s it like?
- Weekends for you: chill-out time or out and about?
- How do you like your living space? Super neat, or more relaxed?
- Cleaning — who does what and when?
- How often do you have friends over, and how do you feel about overnight guests?
- Any food restrictions I should know about?
- What’s your work schedule?
- How do you handle your bills and budget stuff?
- What do you need in terms of personal space and privacy?
- Any hobbies that might need extra space or make a bit of noise?
- Where do you stand on smoking and drinking?
- Got any furry friends or planning to?
- How do you deal with disagreements?
- Are you cool with putting our agreement down on paper?
Remember, this is as much about listening as it is about asking. Whether chatting face-to-face or via video, make sure it feels easy and open. This talk can really help both sides figure out if you’ll get along living together. Go with your gut and see how it feels.
Background and Reference Checks
Finding a good roommate requires a bit of detective work. No need to become a stalker now, but it’s smart to do a little background check. Better safe than sorry, right?
- Cover the basics with an identity check. You just need to make sure they are who they say they are. A quick peek at their ID should do the trick.
- Credit history is a touchy subject, but you don’t want to be stuck with a roommate who can’t pay their bills and rent. You can ask for a recent credit report or use online services — just keep it legal and above board.
- Get references and a sneak peek into what it’s like to live with them by chatting with their previous roommates or landlords. Ask questions like, “Were they reliable with rent?” or “How did they handle household responsibilities?”
Remember, this goes both ways. You should be ready to provide the same info to them — I’ll show you mine, you show me yours. It’s all about building trust. Just a heads up: make sure everything you do is in line with the law. No snooping where you shouldn’t, and always respect privacy.
Pro tip: Going through an online roommate finder? Roomies, for instance, provides the following levels of verification: ID check for $5, credit check for $10, basic criminal check for $15 and premium criminal check for $40.
Now You Know How To Find a Good Roommate
We’ve gone through the ins and outs of finding that perfect roommate and established that first and foremost, you should know exactly what you want, from must-haves to nice-to-haves. You have ten online roommate finder platforms to scour, most of them free, plus you can tap into your social networks and local classifieds.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a lucky few, it’s time to play detective a bit and conduct some basic background checks, coupled with reference calls and honest chats. Finally, you have the mighty roommate agreement — your recipe for living in harmony, covering everything from bills to who buys the toilet paper. Next step is to move in together!
Finding a compatible roommate is key to a happy home because you’re about to share a part of your life with someone you just met. Use these tips, trust your gut and take your time. Your ideal roommate is out there, so go on and start your search with confidence. You’ve got this!