Finding the ideal roommate is not always easy. Yes, you might have great friends you’d love to spend your days with. However, being best mates and living together between four walls doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand… and you don’t want to ruin your lifelong friendship! It may also happen that you want to share your apartment and have been recommended that super nice and charming friend of… whoever, who looks perfect at first sight. Don’t jump into the pool so lightly: appearances can be deceptive!
To avoid these situations, there are some questions you should ask your potential roommate before the moving date. And I want to emphasize BEFORE, because it doesn’t make any sense to do it when damage is already done. Don’t be shy, ask all your doubts and trust your instincts. And don’t worry if you feel like you’re playing the detectives… It’s completely normal!
Knowing the daily routine of your potential roommate will tell you if you are compatible or not. Ask how a typical day in his/her life is: what time he/she gets up and goes to bed, if he/she works or studies, what he/she usually does in the evenings… If you’re an early bird, but your roommate is a night owl who loves to watch TV in the living room until 1am, you might be disturbed.
Also, find out if he/she has special house rules or habits. Here you are some examples!
Parties, visits and weekend plans
It is important to know whether your potential roommate is a party animal or a lonely wolf. Remember, don’t be rude and ask it subtly: do you like having friends over or keeping the party outside? How often do you invite friends at home? What do you usually do on the weekends? If you don’t want to make your place into a disco, be honest with him/her. You don’t want to discover your roommate’s partying identity when the house is already a disaster!
Living with a smoker (of any type) is a deal-breaker for some people. If you don’t smoke but are okay with sharing a flat with a smoker, make sure you agree on where he/she would be allowed to do it. On the other side, if you are a smoker, tell him/her. Also, take into account your landlord and your lease and whether or not it is forbidden to smoke indoors.
Bills and payments
Money issues are always delicate and sometimes even a taboo topic that nobody wants to discuss. Nevertheless, you must be clear with your bills expectations (individual and shared ones) and when and how to pay them. If your potential roommate tells you that he/she doesn’t believe in paying bills, there’s no more to say. Next one, please!
Cleanliness -or the lack of it- is, undoubtedly, one of the main problems when sharing a home. Of course, if your roommate is not very demanding with the cleanliness, he/she won’t admit it. Therefore, try to find out how often he/she cleans and which his/her favourite tasks are, and if he/she would be okay with hiring a service, if necessary. You should also discuss about the cleaning expectations regarding the common areas, like the living room or the bathroom.
Shared stuff and expenses
Sharing is caring, or every one for himself? Imagine that you arrive at home after a looong day at work and that tasty dish you had cooked with so much love and affection is gone. Make sure you discuss with your roommate who is going to shop for something, pay for it and use it. Not only when it comes to food or clothes, but also shared items like the iron, the microwave or even necessary renovations.
Past experiences with a roommate
Beware if your future companion only tells catastrophic stories about his/her ex-flatmates. Especially, if he/she always blame them and claim to be “the good one”. In case your roommate doesn’t want to discuss it or tell that he/she “doesn’t remember”, do some research and ask for references. If you can’t contact former flatmates, try with work colleagues (two or three should be enough).
Are you allergic to some animals? Do you have any pets or are considering getting any? Or do you prefer living without quadrupeds? Is your potential roommate an animal lover eager to make his/her future home into a zoo? Are there any pet restrictions in your building? Before accepting anyone as your future flatmate, explain to your candidate which the “pet policy” is: if you want pets (and which types) or not, the house rules, where in your home they’re allowed to be…
Love and relationships
Being in love is beautiful… except when your house becomes the love nest of Romeo and Juliet and you start feeling like a third wheel in your living room. It can be awkward if “the other” spends more time at your place rather than at his/hers. And you can even see an increase in your bills: don’t forget that there’s one more person living with you! Or, on the contrary, let your future roommate know if that’s your situation! For the sake of both sides, be clear about this and agree some guidelines like the frequency or hours of visits.
For more tips, check out our survival guide to share an apartment! And, if you haven’t found a roommate yet but you’re wondering about how he/she would be… take this quiz and discover how your ideal TV flatmate would be. Dreaming is for free, right?