Having a roommate can be both the most amazing experience, and a really tough one. For some people, getting a roommate in university leads to what is essentially an assigned best friend. In order for any roommate situation to work, there needs to be a lot of open communication.
I know some people who’ve grown incredibly close to their roommates and that’s great! For others, (like myself) a lack of communication can lead to simply co-existing with your roommate. You want to at least be on good chatting terms with the person who can watch you sleep.
So, if you’re getting a new roommate this fall (or just need to check in with some old ones!) I have a comprehensive list of questions you should ask your roommate to get to know each other.
*TIP* don’t forget to include some silly questions in the mix like if you had a million dollars, would you buy a boat or a helicopter. It doesn’t need to be all super serious.
For the college dorm roommate:
How often do you expect to be in the room?
This may seem like a weird question, but trust me, you want to know if your roommate plans on spending all their time in the room – especially if you’re someone who needs some alone time. If you’re both planning on hanging out in the room, make a plan to allow each other some time without the other person.
What’s the light and noise policy?
For example, at night can I turn on the lights or should I use a flashlight? What about listening to music outloud? Should I always check with you first before playing anything without headphones?)
What do you need to sleep?
Some people need absolute quiet and blackness to be able to fall asleep at night. Others, like myself, need noise like the sound of cars passing or voices talking. Others still need ocean waves or white noise machines. It’s best to know ahead of time what the other needs to sleep so you can try to plan around it.
Do you want to coordinate?
With a room so small, sometimes it’s nice to coordinate the sides of the room. Whether this means you both buy things that give off the same ~vibe~ (adventure, tropical, urban, ect.) or it means you check in with each other before making any purchases, making the room look more put together can be nice.
Do you want to build a close friendship?
Sometimes, you just aren’t going to be friends with your roommate and that’s okay. However, if you’re going into the roommate situation expecting to be best friends and the other person just wants a place to sleep, that’s something you should bring up during the first few roommate chats.
For any roommate situation:
Do you like to clean?
Be completely honest here. No one likes someone who insists they clean all the time, only to move in and find out they barely do the dishes.
How are we going to break up the chores?
Will there be a chore wheel? Do we need to put it in writing? What are the chores in the house that need to be filled?
What’s your definition of clean?
Is clean that the house is spotless or that there’s a path around the house that touches all major landmarks? How long can the dishes sit in the sink?
Are you okay with people coming over?
If so, is there a time that people should either quiet down or leave? It’s good to know your roommates schedule with things like this. If they have a big test coming up the next day, maybe don’t have friends over super late.
Will there be people coming over a lot?
If you’re someone who likes to spend time at home as a means to unwind, having people constantly over at your house can be super draining. Talk it over with your roommate and maybe find days, or hours in the day, where there will be a no guests policy. Just try to be considerate on both ends. If you like to have people over all the time, consider going over to one of your other friends houses for a visit today.
What’s the policy with overnight guests?
Whether you or your roommate have a significant other, or just have a someone over for a night, it’s important to know if your roommates are comfortable with them over all the time. Again, if this person is over a lot they become almost another roommate in the house and if they stay in the morning, they become someone your roommate has to see first thing.
How do you prefer to handle conflict?
Again, honestly, do you get super passive aggressive? Do you become quiet? Or will you face conflict head on? It’s important to know how people typically deal with conflict to know how to deal with it when it comes up. I suggest making it a rule in your house that you address conflict directly. Sure, it’s hard to bring things up with someone if you like avoiding conflict, but if it’s bugging you now it’s probably going to continue to bug you.
How should I make a request?
Do we need to talk in person or can I send you a quick text message? For some people, they can’t talk about their issues in person so a text message or a note is easier. For others, this is an unacceptable form of contact. Figure this out before someone is seriously upset.
What will you not tolerate in the house?
Maybe someone’s not going with drinking or smoking in the house. Respect that this makes them feel uncomfortable.
Are you a night owl, or a morning person?
As someone who’s a bit of both, I’m good with people being up late and also waking up with the birds. However, if someone is constantly going to sleep after 1AM and you’re always waking them up at 6AM while getting reading for school, it might not be the best roommate situation. If you guys can find a way around this, perfect! These differences don’t need to make or break a roommate situation.
Is it okay to have music/tv going late at night?
Basically, is there going to be quiet hours enforced in the house or in certain areas? The answer to this one will establish the nightly sound barrier of your home.
How do you like to study/relax?
If you like studying in the house, let your roommates know when you need noise to be kept to a minimum so you can get work done. If your idea of relaxing is an hour long bath, let your roommates know so they don’t end up banging on the bathroom door demanding to be let in and ruining your relaxation time.
How do you spend your free time?
Do you spend every night Netflix binging or are you always in search of a party? Knowing what your roommate does in their free time is a good way to see compatibility.
How do you feel about sharing?
Should I always check before borrowing something or do you live by a ‘what’s mine or yours’ policy? Can I eat your snacks, or did you buy them so I can’t touch them?
What are your biggest needs?
Do you need to unload after everyday by talking with someone about it? Do you need to have some time alone? Do you need a dance party every once in awhile? Should the room be spotless or a little mess okay? Basically, what are the top 3 things that you need from your roommates to make this work.
What are stresses you out the most?
Same with little pet peeves, if there’s something you can do to help limit your roommates stress levels, then it’s just a kind thing to do. It’s also important to know where their stress is coming from so you can avoid being the reason they’re becoming a passive aggressive stress ball. If school is their number one stressor, maybe be extra kind during exam season.
What temperature do you like the room at?
This one involves thinking about electric bills too. I have a friend who’s house stays at 19 degrees Celsius all year long, no matter the temperature outside so they have to wear sweaters inside. If this is something you’re willing to do, talk it over with your roommates and find a good temperature to leave the house at.
Do you expect us to have roommate dinners?
These dinners can be a great time to catch up with the people living in your house and discus concerns you might have with the living arrangements. They don’t have to be dinners though, they can be brunches or coffee shop meetings. You can also think of them like family movie night if you’d like and make it a fun time to spend with your roommates.
Is there anything you’re allergic to?
Some people are deathly allergic to peanut butter, so maybe don’t keep it in the house. Don’t try to kill your roommate.
How will you be paying the rent?
Do they have a part-time job? Savings? Are their parents helping out?
What words would you use to sum up the ~vibe~ of your home?
If they’re thinking it’s going to be party central, and you’re thinking it’s going to be a nice place to relax, maybe not the greatest fit.
What is a typical weekend look like?
I’m not talking about the random weekend you spend all three days partying. I’m talking about a normal weekend. Do you spend a lot of time studying? Do you like to have a lot of friends over to catch up on socializing? Do you like to party? On average, what do you do with your time from Friday to Monday?
What are you bringing to the house?
No one needs five sofas or two microwaves but no fridge. Try to coordinate so you can spread out big purchases like that. Or maybe one person will make all the bigger purchases and the other will buy little things. Whatever works best for you.