The closest thing we get to having roommates before we move out is having siblings. The biggest difference is that siblings intentionally annoy you and push your buttons. But how do you go from living with your family to living with a stranger? How do you even pick the right stranger to live with you? Most of the time, colleges throw you into a random room with a stranger. It’s all luck. You get a cool roommate who isn’t a handful, or you are in for the longest year of your life. But as you start to make new friends, you make plans for next year when you have more control over who you live with and who you don’t. Finding roommates for the first time should come with a set of rules, so I came up with 2 easy to remember rules for you.  

Rule 1: Know Yourself 

What kind of person are you? Are you a night owl who likes to stay up late and make a crap ton of noise? Are you messy or a clean freak? Do you like having people over at your place, or would you rather have a quiet apartment? Does your significant other stay at your place a lot? Do you or your potential roommate have a pet? These are all basic questions, but they help narrow down the list of potential roommates. If you’re a clean freak, then maybe you don’t want someone who leaves their dirty dishes in the sink for a week. In college, the level of cleanliness in my apartment was the biggest topic of fighting in the beginning. One roommate liked our apartment to look magazine ready, and the other took his time cleaning up after himself.

Knowing what type of person you are can help you communicate your expectations while you search for a roommate. You can’t leave with every type of personality. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you realistic. 

Rule 2: Friends Over Strangers

Some say not to live with friends because it will ruin your friendship. I think that’s a bunch of baloney. All three college roommates were my friends, and it was the best time ever. I made some of the best memories of living with them. Those guys are my brothers, and I love them all very much. But there was an adjustment period at first. It’s to be expected, though. It was a new experience for us all. It’s easier to navigate those new experiences of being an independent adult, school, and whatever crap life throws at you when you can come home to a support system. I had a few friends who barely talked to their roommates. They didn’t get along or didn’t interact at all. My apartment was different. We were all up in each other’s business in the best way possible. 

The idea of meeting/interviewing strangers sounds awful to me. We all dream of finding roommates like Jess did in New Girl, but that’s fake. There are a lot of weird people out in the world. If you do have to find a roommate online, though, make sure to ask questions when you meet them. Always see the place you might live in first, just in case it’s roach-infested. Also, people are pretty good at hiding how messy they are. Do yourself a favor and check out the bathroom. Does it look clean? How gross are the toilet and shower? The mirror? People who have spotless bathrooms are usually really clean. And ask the questions from rule one to figure out what kind of person they are. 

More Questions to Ask

  • Do you smoke?
  • Have you ever paid rent late? 
  • What temperature do you keep the thermostat at?
  • How often do you clean? 

Trust Your Gut

You might be surprised how well trusting your gut works. Finding a roommate is very much about judging a book by its cover. First impressions do matter because your apartment should feel like a safe and comfortable space for you, and that can be hard to achieve with someone you don’t get along with at all. And when you finally do find your person or people to live with, sit down and have a roommate’s expectations conversation. I cannot stress how important that is. Figure out how you will be divvying up the wifi bill or who buys the paper towels. Talk about the small little things so everyone is on the same page. Otherwise, you must deal with many small fights that fester into bigger ones. Lastly, remember to give yourself and your new roommates time to adjust. Living with new people will take time to find your groove, but you’ll get there.      

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