When you choose roommates to live with off campus, you are making an important decision about your living environment for the next school year. It can be easy just to think that someone you are friends with will make a good roommate, or to assume things about a roommate’s lifestyle. However, our office recommends taking time to carefully select roommates who are compatible with you in their thoughts and behaviors around the following areas:
- Smoking Preference
- If, for example, you prefer a smoke-free environment, but your roommate is used to smoking in the house, it is unlikely that your living situation will be optimal. Try to find a roommate whose lifestyle meshes well with yours, and both of you will be happier!
- Cleanliness Habits
- If you know that untidiness irritates you, try to find a roommate who shares your desire for a consistently clean environment. Conversely, if you tend to be disorganized, you won’t want a roommate who is bothered by this.
- Policies Around Overnight Guests
- Number of Roommates They Want to Live With
- Gender of Roommates They Want to Live With
- Pet Preferences
- It is important to know whether your roommate will be bringing a pet, or if you have one, that they are aware of yours. If possible, try to arrange a meeting between the pet and the roommate beforehand in order to avoid any potential problems. It is also important to understand that, even though the pet may be your roommate’s responsibility, they may enlist you to help care for it from time to time. So, if your roommate has a snake and you’re frightened of this animal, or if your roommate is allergic to your dog, problems could potentially come up.
- Social and Study Habits
- If one of you prefers for your house to be a quiet refuge, but the other is accustomed to frequently hosting many visitors, you may not wish to become roommates. Noise levels should also be agreed upon for both weeknights and weekends.
It is also important to look for roommates who have a compatible lifestyle with yours and who display the following traits:
- Trustworthiness: It is important that you find a roommate who you can trust. Maybe not with your most embarrassing secrets, but you should be able to trust them to respect you, your belongings, and the terms you agree to for living together.
- Responsibility: Responsibility is a key trait to look for in a roommate, particularly if you have signed a group lease and you are all jointly responsible for rent and utilities. In such cases, if your roommate has not paid their portion of the rent, it may be up to you to make up the difference or risk being evicted.
- Conflict Resolution Skills: No matter who you live with, occasional, minor conflicts are inevitable. Try to find out in advance how your roommate handles conflict. Openness and cooperation are crucial with this!
Talk about each of these topics before deciding to be roommates. This is the best way to determine if your lifestyles are compatible enough to make living together an experience that you will enjoy and that will support your growth and development as a college student.
For more information on things to look for in finding a compatible roommate, check out our Roommate Priorities Rubric in Helpful Forms in this Roommate section.