Things You Should Know About a Roommate Before Moving in Together

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr Google

Going off to college or moving out on your own often means finding a roommate. Some colleges allow you to pick your own roommate, and you can choose your roommates when living on your own. Interview prospective roommates and find someone whose personality and lifestyle meshes well with yours. Leaving the choice to chance or whomever answers your ad first, could be a nightmare. Thoroughly screen a prospective roommate before moving in together.

Lifestyle Considerations

Choose someone who shares a lifestyle similar to yours, suggests the housing and residence life staff at George Fox University in “How to Choose a Roomate” on their website. Ask whether the candidate is a morning or night person, clean or messy, studious or a party person and what he enjoys doing on his off time. If your differences are dramatic, it could be a rough ride. If you hit the sack at 10:30 so you can get up early for work or class and your roommate is partying with a friend until 2 a.m., you might have difficulties on the job or at school. A confrontation is sure to happen if you need quiet and your roommate loves loud noise.

Ideal Character

Character matters in choosing a roommate, according to the University of Pittsburgh handout, “Tips for Selecting a Roommate.” You want a roommate who respects your property, asking before she borrows clothes or consumes your food. If the prospective roommate has a steady boyfriend or girlfriend, ask if the partner will be staying overnight or camping at your place. Honesty is important -- you don't want a roommate who lies or deceives you. Finally, you want a financially responsible roommate who pays the rent and other expenses on time and in full, preferably with a stable job.

Personal Habits

Mismatched personal habits can also create major conflict according to the ApartmentTherapy.com article, “What's Your Criteria for Choosing a Roommate?” If you don’t smoke, drink or use drugs, you probably won’t tolerate a roommate who does. Discuss cleaning habits and determine who is responsible for which tasks and when. A roommate agreement you create together and sign can itemize your expectations and responsibilities so you are on the same page from the day you move in together, according to editorial intern Michelle Ruppert at the Center for Personal Finance in “Good Roommate Relationships Start at the Start” for Money Mix.

When Conflict Occurs

Ask candidates how they deal with conflict. You want someone who is reasonable and solves problems cooperatively. Someone who yells, throws things or stonewalls will make finding solutions difficult. Ask for references, suggests Ruppert, and check them carefully. Ensure that the candidate has been financially responsible in the past and considerate of others. Determine your options if your roommate bails, leaving you financially responsible for all the bills, or if you can't get along.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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