Knowing your roommate is the single most important thing before signing a lease together. If you and your roommate aren't on the same page living situations can turn sour quickly. It's not a bad idea to interview your roommate before making it permanent. This is especially important if you're just meeting them for the first time. These are a few topics we think are important to discuss when finding a roommate.
This is the most common cause of arguments between roommates. Be respectful and do your part when it comes to shared chores like vacuuming, dusting, or cleaning a shared bathroom. Also have an understanding of how dishes will be handled, will each person take care of their own? Or will you split it up by days? Be honest when looking for a roommate. If your room is usually messy, don’t tell them you’re a neat freak. Make sure to get on a cleaning schedule that works for both of you.
Speaking from experience sleeping habits are another thing you need to know about your roommate. Durring the school year my roommate and I both have some pretty late nights preparing for project deadlines. That can mean coming home late from the studio or working from home all night. I was lucky enough to live with a student who knows and shares this routine. In our apartment, one all nighter typically means one day of sleeping afterwards. Be sure your roommates understand your work/school schedule and how that impacts your sleep.
It’s important to have a good idea of how often guests will be over. If your roommate plans to invite hoards of people over every weekend and you're uncomfortable with it, let them know. It’s better to get those things out in the beginning than to let the tension build. You can always make a schedule and designate weekends for parties. Also be sure to give warning if you plan on having a guest over for a few nights. Letting your guests know the apartment rules can also save you some headaches down the road.
Do you listen to loud music? It may be a good idea to get headphones if your roommates not into it. Also consider appropriate noise levels for the time of day. If you’re an early bird but your roommate isn’t, don’t blare your music or television. This area is a particular problem for me, I have a tendency to sleep through anything, so I forget that others can be easily woken or bothered by noise. Lesson learned, be courteous.
This can be an issue if you find yourself living with a strict eater. If you find out your roommate is a vegetarian see if they’re okay with keeping meat around. Things like this are good to ask because you don’t want to be stuck living with someone who puts restrictions on your diet. In the same sense if you have a clean diet you might not want to live with someone who keeps junk food around the apartment. Also be aware of which food’s meant to be shared, and what’s not.
It might not be a good idea to take hour-long showers if your roommate only takes 10. You both have to divide the bill so be sure that you aren't wasting water or energy. Let your roommate know if they leave too many lights on too frequently. Explain that it’s a matter of cost and they should understand. However also be reasonable, don’t expect your roommate to live in the dark and take two minute showers just to save money. This is also a good opportunity to talk about AC and heating. Know what temperatures work best for both you and your budget.
It’s important to know some basic characteristics of your future roommate. Topics like religion, morals, political views, and stances on social issues are good to touch base on. Just because you may have opposing views doesn’t mean you can’t live together. But if you or your roommate have extreme views and living with someone who doesn’t see eye-to-eye is going to a problem, let them know.
Also ask your roommate what they like to do in their spare time, hobbies, or clubs they're interested in. For example, I occasionally oil paint and I drink a TON of coffee. This means some days the apartment might smell like paint thinner, and others the overwhelming aroma of coffee. I understand that it could drive some people crazy. Thankfully my roommates a doll! So be open about your hobbies and interests.
All in all the key to finding a good roommate is understanding and cooperation. No one will ever be your perfect match so keep in mind what's important. If you take some time to get to know your future roommate and work around your differences you'll have a happy living situation.