Lindsay Smith

If you've ever lived with the Joey to your Chandler, you know how important (and fun) it is to find a compatible roommate for a long-term living situation.

Looking for a roommate can be complicated and difficult – especially if you're on a time crunch, but a bad roommate living situation can be extremely stressful and even unhealthy in extreme cases.

The good news is a few well-thought-out questions can help you find a roommate whose values, lifestyles, and habits you can comfortably live with. Here are some questions to ask when looking for a roommate:

What's Your Relationship With Cleaning?

Cleaning is a very common argument between roommates, so it's a good place to check for compatibility. If you're a neat freak and the person you're interviewing doesn't remember the last time they did laundry or dishes, it's probably not the best match.

However, if you're slightly OCD about cleaning, be realistic. It's not going to be easy to find someone with your exact tendencies, and you may have to live with a couple pairs of shoes lying around or a dish soaking in the sink.

Why Are You Looking for a New Place?

This question could be completely innocent, or it could reveal something like a terrible previous roommate situation or a landlord eviction that you're better off knowing about before committing to live with them. If they're vague about it or divulge something that would make them either not compatible or not responsible, you may want to move on.

Any Pets? How About Allergies?

If you live in an apartment building that doesn't allow pets, this question could be a complete deal-breaker. Otherwise, make sure neither of you has pets or allergies that the other can't live with. Even if neither of you have pets at the moment, make sure you're both OK with the possibility of one in the future (or are on the same page about never having one).

What Are Your Biggest Roommate Pet Peeves?

This is an important one, so be honest with yourself if you know you do some of the things they can't stand. If you do a lot of the things they consider deal-breakers, it's probably best to move on and look for someone else. The same goes for their bad habits lining up with your pet peeves.

Do You Smoke?

You may find yourself seriously resenting each other down the road if one of you smokes and one of you doesn't. This is a big indicator of different lifestyles and a practical reason to end the interview if you have different opinions on the subject. You'll also want to make sure not to get a smoking roommate if you currently live in a building that prohibits smoking.

How Do You Feel About Sharing?

When it comes to roommates, there are some who absolutely love to share clothes, shoes, food, Netflix, and any number of other things. Does this sound like you? If so, either find roommates who share your feelings or promise yourself you'll respect their privacy and personal belongings. If you don't like when roommates drink your milk or poke around in your clothes or jewelry without asking, make sure you're upfront about that, too.

What Does a Typical Friday Night Look Like for You?

Another lifestyle compatibility question you should ask when looking for a roommate is what they typically do on weekends. Weekends are often the longest period of time both roommates will be in the apartment together, so talk about your letting-loose habits. If one of you loves house parties with loud music and tons of people and the other would rather watch TV for hours, you're bound to get on each other's nerves.

What's Your Communication Style?

You don't need to give your potential roommates a full-on Myers-Briggs personality quiz, but knowing how they communicate when it comes to problems or disputes is a good indication of how compatible you'll be.

Be honest with each other during this discussion. If you know, going in that you're both passive aggressive, you'll be more likely to understand each other's actions down the road.

What Do You Do for a Living?

Even though in many places it's illegal to discriminate against a potential roommate based on their job, it's a question that will give you a ton of information about the potential roommates you're interviewing. It'll often indicate the kinds of hours they work (are they going to be getting ready loudly when you're trying to sleep in on weekends?), whether they can afford rent each month, and even how responsible they are.

Do Your Friends/Significant Other Visit a Lot?

Some people like having an apartment that their friends can walk right into no matter what time of day or night, which can be an issue for those who value privacy or alone time.

During this discussion, you should also talk about significant others or overnight-guest habits. Being on the same page about overnight visitors is a good indication that you both have similar values, and it will help you avoid any awkwardness in the long run.



About The Author

Lindsay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer who uses her deadline-oriented writing skills for clients like Apartment Guide,, Womensforum Media Group and Brafton.