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Questions You Should Be Asking Potential Roommates in 2021

Finding a roommate can be stressful. Cohabitation is tricky and finding a compatible roommate can be the difference between a home that’s a peaceful sanctuary and one that’s a torturous nightmare.

However, living with roommates can also be an enriching experience… allowing you to live independently, but still have a community in your home when you want company. And of course, there’s the obvious benefit of having someone with which to share expenses.

So, if you’ve decided to get a roommate, use these questions to ask candidates about their lifestyle, personality, and expectations when it comes to sharing a space. The answers to these questions could be deal-breakers for either party. At the very least, the answers will reveal a lot about potential roommates and help you set good rules and expectations, so you’ll hopefully avoid any grief and confrontation down the line.
  1. What are your views on COVID-19 precautions?

It’s an unavoidable question when two social bubbles are becoming one during a pandemic. If your views on vaccinations, social distancing, or masking differ, it’s best to know that now than to find out after you’re living together. We think this questions should come up first, because it might be the biggest deal breaker on the list.
  1. Do you smoke?
Smell, personal history, religious beliefs, fire hazards, and health concerns are just a few reasons someone could opt for a smoke-free roomie.
  1. How do you want to split the cost of rent and utilities?
While having a roommate means someone to share the cost of living with, it’s not always as simple as a 50-50 split. Is one of the bedrooms larger? Or does it include an attached bathroom or walk-in closet? Should the person occupying that room pay more? Perhaps one of you will be working from home and consequently using more electricity and water.
Talking about finances is usually a little awkward, but it’s an unavoidable part of adult life. If the idea makes you anxious, do some prep work ahead of time to learn how to breach the topic casually but directly.
  1. Have you ever missed a rent payment?
As confrontational as this question may seem, this is a valid and relevant query to ask a potential roommate. Although you may have just decided to split the rent up a certain way, if your roommate can't hold up their end of the bargain, it could put both of your housing in jeopardy. Not to mention, it could result in added fees, hurt your credit score and negatively impact your future apartment hunts. Knowing how well your future roommate handled their financial responsibility in the past will likely give you an indication of future behavior.
  1. Have you had a roommate before? What’s your current relationship with them like?

This artful question could be a sneak peek into your future. All roommates are bound to butt heads occasionally, but if this question is met with a string of nasty remarks about a nightmare ex-roomie, it could be a red flag. Are they the common denominator?
Best case scenario: this question is met with glowing accounts of past cohabitants, some of which you may be able to call as a reference.
  1. Will you be bringing any pets?

While we love our four-legged Residents, we realize pets in the home might not be for everyone.  Additionally, it’s important to know if your potential roommate can fully cover pet rent, a pet deposit, or potential damages. Who will watch the pet when your roommate is at work or on vacation? These are points you’ll want to hit.
Also, make sure you know your community’s pet policy and restricted breeds before making any decisions about pets in the home.
  1. What are your cleaning habits?

Even though you’ll each have your own sleeping space, there are plenty of communal areas of the home that you’ll share. If you and your prospective roommate prioritize different aspects of the chore list, perhaps splitting up responsibilities and maintaining an adequate space will be simple and easy.
  1. What’s your ideal indoor temperature?
Whatever you like to keep your space cool enough to snuggle up under a mountain of blankets or prefer it a little warmer, you’ll want to assess whether your potential roommate is in alignment. Constantly adjusting the thermostat or bringing it to an unusually high or low temperature will cost you and your roomie money. To keep electric bills low (and avoid the fight over the thermostat), it’s best to find a roommate with similar temperature preferences.
  1. What are your preferred sleeping conditions?

Even if you’re not sharing a bedroom or studio space, odds are you’ll at least be sharing a wall with your roomie. Whether they need white noise, complete silence or even background noise from a television, this is something you’ll want to know before your first night together.
Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important to your health as regular exercise and a healthy diet, so know whether their answer to this question will disrupt your own sleep before you seal the deal.
  1. Do you have any food restrictions/ allergies?
A lifelong vegan could find sharing food prep space with a steak enthusiast to be less than ideal. Moreover, if one of you has a severe food allergy, you’ll want to know so the kitchen remains a safe space for everyone. 
  1. Are you in any romantic relationships?

If your roommate has a romantic partner, it will likely mean you can look forward to having a frequent guest in your shared space. This could result in a higher water bill, less privacy, and potentially feeling left out in your own home. It also means one more person joining your bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll want to explore this topic thoroughly before making any steadfast decisions with your prospective roommate.
  1. What’s your policy on overnight visitors?
Whether it’s the romantic partner, family visiting from out of town, or a friend, you want to have clear standards set in place for overnight guests. How often are you both comfortable with this scenario? Your routines, sanity, and sense of security might be on the line.
  1. Do you work remotely or from an office?
For many, the increase in remote work during the pandemic has been full of perks – including lack of commutes, childcare costs and more. Unfortunately for renters, there’s a flip side to the work-from-home wonderland. If you and/or your potential roommate works virtually, your shared apartment could also become a shared office.

A work-from-home roomie could mean less privacy for you, a potentially stressful atmosphere, and a pricier utility bill. When asking your roommate about their career, be sure to assess how your work lives will mesh or become a source of tension.

Having a roommate is a great way to lower your monthly expenses, take on fewer household chores yourself and make a live-in friend, but it’s important to find the right person with whom to share your home. Don’t let a lack of preparation in your roommate interview jeopardize what could be a perfectly nice arrangement. Asking a future roommate, the right questions will increase your chances of a great experience.