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11 Questions to Ask Potential Roommates

March 19, 2019

Living with roommates can have a lot of perks and lead to lasting friendships. Picking the right roomie is key to having a good living situation. However, scanning for red flags, being upfront about pet peeves, and figuring out common interests with a potential roommate can be challenging. Do the due diligence when it comes to searching for a new roomie and avoid missing any red flags. Your new roommate doesn't need to be your best friend, but it's nice to get along and do fun things together from time to time. Follow our guide below to have a list of questions to ask potential roommates to ensure you find a perfect fit.

1. What do you do for a living, and what is your monthly income?

Building a successful roommate relationship starts with the basis. This question is essentially a screening question, and the first thing that you should ask. Make sure the potential roommate can afford the rent price that you are requiring. For reference, a tenant should make around 3x the monthly rent to be eligible to live in the space. If you want to be sure, ask to see a recent pay stub.

2. How long do you plan on staying?

Another question that can be seen as a screening question. You might only need a roommate for a couple of months, and they may be looking for a long-term home or moving in with a significant other. Perhaps, you may want a roommate who is planning to stay for a long time, and need to make sure the applicant isn’t looking to move two to three months down the road. Make sure to know the applicants intention before allowing them to move in. 

3. Do you have any references?

If the potential roommate has a former roommate or landlord that you can contact, it is definitely worth doing so. Many landlords will ask for references from applicants, so why should you do otherwise? Getting some sort of verification from a reference will give you peace of mind with the new roommate. This is an important decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

4. How often do you have visitors over?

This all comes down to personal preference. If you are more introverted and prefer a quieter home, you probably don’t want a roommate who constantly brings people over. Set some ground rules about overnight guests. On the contrary, if you are a social butterfly who loves meeting new people, this could be your dream roommate. Whatever the case may be, make sure to get some clarification here.

5. What does your schedule look like?

If you need alone time during the day, having the same work schedule as your roommate might be a little much for you. If you have completely opposite schedules, your roommate might need to sleep during your night owl movie-watching hours. Finding out what the day-to-day will look like between you and the potential roommate will allow you to consider the pros and cons of living together.

6. How often do you clean?

This question may be referred to as the great dealbreaker. The candidates cleanliness can either make or break the interview. Ask the candidate how often they clean and how they typically the process goes. Ask what kinds of chores they don’t mind and what chores they absolutely hate. Let's say keeping common areas, such as the living room, is part of a good roommate experience for you. Then it's a must that someone you're interviewing is a generally clean person. This a good point to include in the roommate agreement, and perhaps it is even worth making a preset cleaning schedule. If you are a clean freak and they’re a slob (or vice versa), it probably isn’t a good match.

7. Do you smoke?

All comes down to your personal preferences here. You might not want to live with a smoker. Or if they don’t want to live with a smoker, they might not want to live with you.

8. What time do you go to sleep?

This ties back into the schedule question a bit. If you like to stay up late and the candidate calls it a night early, you’ll have to consider the sacrifices you may need to make to accommodate their lifestyle. The last thing you want is finding out a month into living together that you're a morning person and their thing is late-night Star Wars marathons on a Wednesday night. 

9. Do you have any pets? Or how do you feel about pets?

If you have a pet, ask the candidate how they deal with pets. Make sure there are no potential issues with pet allergies. If they have a furry third roommate, are you and your landlord okay with it? Many large apartments restrict pets, so get that cleared first and foremost. If neither of you have pets, ask them to see if owning a pet is a possibility for them in the future.

10. What do you do in your free time?

This question is all about figuring out how well you two will gel together. If you simply need to fill the space immediately, you might not care much about how well you’ll get along. If you’re looking for a friend in addition to a roommate, having some hobbies and interests in common is great starting point.

11. What is your current romantic situation?

If the candidate is dating and wants to have their partner over frequently that could be a potential issue. Make sure to tell them about your current situation, because they may feel the same.

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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