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What should I consider when choosing a roommate?
Sharing housing with other people can help you reduce costs and can provide you with a social network.
If you decide to live in a shared house or apartment, you will need to carefully consider what type of people you are comfortable living with. Some things you may want to consider when choosing a roommate (flatmate) are:
First, take time to decide what you want out of your relationship with your new roommate. If you’re new to Canada maybe you’d like to find a friend who will join you for dinner and introduce you to their social circle. Or maybe you’re already established and are just looking for someone to share the bills with while living independent lives. Whatever you’re looking for, be clear with the other person to make sure that you don’t have different expectations.
Sleeping habits, work schedules, food preferences, allergies, smoking and drug use, pets, entertainment and hobbies are all important parts of someone’s lifestyle. You do not have to have the same lifestyle as your roommate, but make sure that you understand whether or not your lifestyles will be compatible.
Most people will say that they’re ‘clean’, but people have very different opinions on their definition of clean. Some people think that sweeping every single day is normal. Others are satisfied with a quick vacuum every few months. Some people tolerate piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen while also maintaining a spotless bathroom. Before agreeing to anything, make sure you have the same understanding of “clean”.
Protect yourself against unpleasant surprises by asking a potential roommate tough but tactful questions about finances. Watch their body language to get a sense of whether they might be uncomfortable talking about money or unsure about their financial future. You need to make sure that they’re in a position to meet the financial responsibilities of sharing a home.
Make sure to ask about a potential roommate’s entertaining preferences, house guests, and romantic partners. If you like to have friends over, make sure they do too. If either of you plan to have guests, discuss how long they’re welcome to stay. Establish how many nights of the week it’s reasonable for significant others to sleep over. Even if neither of you are currently in a relationship, you might be in the future.
It is natural that you will face both interpersonal and practical challenges while living together. Whether it’s dealing with obnoxious house guests, rodent infestations or just generally getting annoyed with each other, someone’s approach to conflict resolution in the past often indicates how they will behave in future. Ask a few questions about past experiences rather than hypothetical future scenarios to get a sense of how they behave under pressure.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few potential roommates, you can ask to speak with past roommates or landlords to get a better idea of whether you are compatible. You may also want to check their social media accounts to learn more about their lifestyle and confirm the information they have told you.
Another good way to test a potential match is to invite them to hang out with you and your friends for an evening. Hopefully, they’ll also invite you to meet their friends. This can allow you to get to know each other in an informal setting.
This article has been edited from the original version.
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July 13, 2016