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15 Questions to Ask Prospective Roommates

Updated on February 13, 2015

Roommates - Not Just for College

Sure, I had roommates in college, but I also had roommates for the fifteen years after college as well. It was the smartest way to save money and I got to meet a lot of great people.

After all those years, in two major cities (Boston and New York), I ended up getting pretty good at the interview process. It doesn't take Superman (or Supergirl) to get someone you can live with. Here are some tips for you.

Are You A Morning Person or a Night Person?

This is mostly important to find out when your potential roommate will be taking a shower. Unless you each have your own bathroom, it is imperative that you do not find yourself living with someone who needs to take a shower at the same time you do. You don't want to be late to work and you don't want anyone using up all the hot water just when you need it.

So How About It? Morning or Night?

Not a Morning Person
Not a Morning Person

When Do You Function Best?

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Can the Potential Roommate Pass the Landlord Qualifications?

Before you decide on a roommate, you need to know if your landlord will let him/her move in. This is very easy to check. If someone is going to go on the lease, the landlord is, at the very least, going to want to do a credit check. If there is a security deposit, that will have to be dealt with as well. If your new roomie has a pet, are pets even allowed?

What Are Your Dealbreakers?

Everyone has different things that are absolute no-nos. If you are allergic to pets, hate smoking, need someone to never leave dishes in the sink, or anything else, the most important thing is that you be upfront about it.

Oscar or Felix? - You Don't Want to Be the Odd Couple

It might make for good television, but it can be a sort of hell if you are a neat freak and a slob moves in. People legitimately have different levels of neatness and/or cleanliness. The first person I lived with out of college had a list of things in the apartment that had to be cleaned and each of us had to completely clean the apartment once a week. We no longer speak.

Are you a neat freak?

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Are You Social?

This can entail a large number of sub questions. Basically, what you need to match up your social-ness (for lack of a better word) with your potential roommate's social-ness.

  1. How often would you like to host parties?
  2. What kind of parties do you like to throw? There is a big difference between a Sunday Brunch and a Friday night Kegger.
  3. How much do you drink?
  4. Do you have a lot of out of town visitors? If so, what do you think a reasonable amount of time is for them to stay on the couch in the apartment before they chip in for rent?

Now or Now and Later

When you rent an apartment, you general have two options: get a lease or go month-to-month. Sometimes, you can get a lease and when the lease is up, you then go month to month. They both have their advantages.

With a month-to-month, you can leave at any time and not have to find a new tenant or be penalized for breaking your lease, but your landlord can ask you to leave at the end of the month also. Having a lease gives you more legal rights if you want to stay put for a specific length of time.

Have You Ever Lived With Anyone Before?

Having experience as a roommate makes you a better roommate, at least in theory. Someone who has lived by himself his entire life (or herself) may not be used to thinking of others before making decisions. This doesn't mean s/he won't make a good roommate; you should just expect something of a learning curve.

Well? Have you?

Evil Cat
Evil Cat

Have you ever lived with someone before?

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Questions You Can't Ask Someone You Hire

...but should ask a potential roommate.

  1. How old are you?
  2. Are you married?
  3. What religion are you? (this mostly matters if you care if the other person displays religious symbols around the house)

Probationary Period

Some people opt to give someone a trial period or a month or two, after which time you can say, oops, sorry, this just isn't working out.

Some non-essential questions

  • Do you have any furniture? Is it better than mine?
  • How long are you planning on staying in [this city]?
  • What kind of music do you like?

Money Matters

Does the person who wants to live with you already have a job? If not, is someone with money willing to cosign the lease with him/her? Does this person understand that there are other expenses like utilities, cable, internet, etc.? Does this person want to share food with you? If not, does s/he understand that means that s/he can't take all of your milk?

Helpful hint: If you are going to be sharing responsibility for household items like toilet paper, make sure you are on the same page regarding what type of toilet paper to buy (i.e., cheap and thin or pricy and plush).

The Questions - not in order

  • Have you lived with someone before?
  • How would you rate yourself on a neatness scale?
  • Do you have a pet? and/or Are you allergic to pets?
  • Do you have a job?
  • How social are you? (Drinking, smoking, other smoking, etc.)
  • Can you afford to live here?
  • Do you want to share expenses?
  • Are you a morning person or a night person?
  • How long are you planning on staying?
  • Do you have a significant other? How often will she/he be spending the night?
  • How old are you?
  • What religion are you?
  • Do you want to be my friend?
  • Will we be sharing food?

Sharing a Sense of Humor - It isn't a must, but it helps

I am not the end all be all of roommate questions. Any I've missed? Let me know.

Do You Have Other Good Questions?

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