In a post-pandemic world, finding a great roommate can feel more difficult than ever before. Whether you’re looking to split your rent with someone while saving for a down payment on a house or just prefer not to live alone, sharing a house or apartment with a roommate is incredibly common. It’s a matter of finding a good roommate that’s really the tricky part.
If you’ve never lived with roommates or housemates before, you may feel anxious at the thought of sharing a space with new people. Not to mention it can be especially overwhelming if you’ve never met your roommate before. Will you two get along? How will you divide up household tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping?
If you’re on the fence about finding a roommate or need some guidance on where to start, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’ve never lived with anyone before or just need a refresher on how to be a good housemate, here are our best tips for how to find a great roommate and be one in return:
How to Find a Good Roommate: Try These Helpful Tips
1. Ask your personal network
As with most things, you can start your search for a roommate by talking with your friends and family. You may even want to consider posting on social media to expand your reach even further. Someone in your personal network may already know of someone who’s looking to move into a new apartment or searching for a roommate to cut costs. Finding a roommate by referral makes it a little easier when it comes to trust. Plus, even if you’ve never met before, you and your new roommate will have someone in common to connect you two right away.
2. Post an ad online
Haven’t had any luck asking around and posting on social media? If no one in your personal network knows of anyone looking for a new roommate, you can also find a good roommate by looking into websites like Roomi, Craigslist, or PadMapper. If you’re a fan of Reddit, there are some subreddits dedicated to housing markets, too. If you have access, it may also be a good idea to post in any alumni networks you’re a part of to see if any other fellow alumni are looking for a new place. (Age permitting, of course!)
3. Hold formal interviews
Once you’ve found someone who’s interested in becoming your roommate, it’s important to take the time to talk to them first. Don’t be afraid to be upfront and ask questions before agreeing to anything. That way, you can get a feel for each other and see if you’ll be a good match before signing a binding lease agreement.
How do you interview a potential roommate?
Finding a good roommate often comes down to lifestyle compatibility. Asking questions upfront over lunch, coffee, or even Zoom is a great, low-pressure way to determine if you two will be a good fit for each other.
Not sure what to say when looking for a roommate? Here are a few questions to consider asking:
- Why are you looking for a roommate?
- What does your ideal roommate look like?
- Do you have a reliable income? How will you afford the rent?
- How do you feel about visitors? Do you plan on having guests over regularly?
- What is your current lifestyle like? Are you a student or working professional? Do you smoke or drink regularly?
- How long do you plan to have a roommate?
If your answers don’t match up, it’s important to trust your gut. Finding a roommate may help you pay your bills, but you run the risk of ending up in a bad living situation if you and your potential roommate aren’t compatible. Take your time and don’t force things!
Other Questions People Often Ask a Potential Roommate Can Include:
- What do you usually do for fun?
- What does your grocery list usually look like? What are your cooking habits?
- Are you a night owl or an early riser?
- Do you work from home?
- What are your cleaning habits?
- Do you have friends or family who live nearby?
4. Be upfront about costs
If you’ve already secured an apartment or are looking for a roommate for your current apartment, be upfront about how much rent and utilities cost. This number shouldn’t scare your potential roommate; it should be unwaveringly clear that they can afford to live with you. You can ask what they do for a living, but cannot disqualify them based on that alone. If they have a consistent job, that’s a good sign, but it may not be the case for everyone. For example, students may have to provide other proof of being able to pay rent and utilities.
5. Get it in writing
Once you’ve found your new roommate, don’t do anything without a formal written agreement. If you’re moving into an apartment together, your landlord should provide a lease for you both to sign. Be sure that both of your names are on the lease rather than just one or the other. You don’t want to get stuck footing the bill if your roommate needs to drop out last minute.
If you’re inviting a roommate into your current house or apartment, you may not have a formal lease agreement, but you should still get something in writing. Create a lease or sublease agreement, or have an attorney create one for you. It’s not a matter of trust in this instance. It’s ensuring you’re both protected when items are damaged, house rules are broken, someone can’t pay rent, etc. It always helps to make it official.
How to Be a Good Roommate
Now, it seems you’ve got everything you need to find a good roommate, but what if you’re the incoming roommate? If you want to go the extra mile, check out the tips on how to be a good roommate below.
1. Set some house rules
The best roommates are made by communicating regularly from the start. Creating house rules at the beginning of your relationship will help ease any future issues or conflicts. For example: You may want to discuss what time you wake up for work or school in the morning. That way, one person can make sure they’re quiet and respectful if one of you needs to go to bed or wake up earlier than the other. Don’t be afraid to talk things through and revisit these “rules” as needed.
2. Spend time together
You don’t need to be best friends, but spending some time getting to know your roommate can be a great way to build a relationship with each other. Not only will you feel better about living together and sharing a physical space, but you may even become good friends while you’re at it! Spending time with your roommate can be as simple as asking how their day was while you’re putting groceries away in the kitchen or drinking coffee together in the morning.
3. Clean up after yourself
This should go without saying, but cleaning up after yourself is an excellent way to keep your roommate happy. Even if it’s a few crumbs from making lunch, your roommate will appreciate your tidiness. If you both decide on a cleaning schedule, you’ll respect each other more if you equally put effort into maintaining your home.
4. Be respectful
Respect is the foundation that any positive relationship is built on, and roommates are no different. Simply put: Treat your roommate how you would like to be treated. If you know that they’ve got a big exam or work presentation in the morning, try to be quiet while they’re sleeping. If they’re on a Zoom call for work, try to wait to do your dishes or put in a load of laundry until after they’re done, if you can.
Don’t forget: Respect is a two-way street. If you’re wondering how to find a good roommate, be sure to work on being a good roommate in return!
To help you truly understand how important it is to be diligent in looking for a good roommate (and being a good roommate in return), check out some of the “worst roommate stories” on Buzzfeed.
Living With Roommates Doesn’t Need to Be Difficult
Whether you’re moving to a new city and need to save money or are moving into your first college dorm room, it’s incredibly common to live with roommates at some point in your life. Regardless of your personal situation, it’s important to learn how to get along with your roommates while sharing the same physical space. And who knows: With some patience, understanding, and a little bit of luck you might even find yourself with a roommate and friend for life.