Happy roommates drinking coffee and eating cookies.
Moving Tips

Complete Guide to Finding the Perfect Roommate

ByEssex

November 15, 2019

If you are one of the thousands of people looking for an affordable apartment, you may have already figured out that two adults living as roommates can live much more glamorously than one person living alone. We understand the incredible challenge of finding and choosing a roommate that you can trust and truly enjoy living with. So today, we're here to outline the ultimate guide for finding the perfect roommate when moving to a new apartment.

Know Yourself as a Roommate

To make the right decision about a roommate, you first need to define what you're looking for. After all, everyone lives differently. And you want to find someone whose lifestyle meshes well with yours so that neither of you find the other getting on their nerves. Here's what to consider:

How You Live

Most importantly, define how you want to live. Do you need lots of quiet time without any TV or music to do your job or schoolwork? Do you like to spend all night watching movies and throwing popcorn at the screen? Do you keep your house spotless and can't stand laundry on the floor?

The answer to these questions, and many more like them, will matter. Take some time to think about how you live. Not only will you need a roommate who doesn't slow your roll. You also want someone that you won't drive nuts.

What You Want in a Roommate

Next, think about what you care about most in a roommate. Take a moment to consider what you have and have not liked about housemates in the past. You may want someone to live quietly with and ignore you while you both focus on work. Or you may be looking for someone to make friends with and spend evenings together, taking turns making dinner.

By knowing what you really want in a roommate, you increase the chances of having a really great time once you find the right person.

What Kind of Roommate Are You?

Now, think about the kind of roommate you will be. Really. Look closely at your current living environment. Are there clothes on the floor? Have the dishes been washed in the last two days? Is the TV on?

These things will matter a lot to a roommate – not only your lifestyle but the environment you create and will share with this other person. When the time comes, be honest about how you are as a roommate. Whether you'll want a chore roster or to handle your own separate chores. Whether you're messy or neat, cook or order takeout, want to talk a lot, or insist on silence.

Roommates laughing while lying on bed.

Roommate Sources

Once you've wrapped your head around what the ideal roommate match-up would be, it's time to compare that with reality by finding some candidates. Finding a potential roommate is actually the most challenging stage of the roommate hunt. Ideally, you want to start with a pool of possible roommates, compare the pros and cons, then choose the best among your options.

But it's important to cast a wide net first so that you have plenty of options to choose from and can refine your ideal roommate from there.

Friends and Family

It's always easiest to start with people you already know. You may have a cousin who also needs an apartment or a friend who could move in with you to make both of your lives easier. Of course, people you know are seldom conveniently moving at the right time, which is why most people wind up interviewing strangers.

A word from the wise and experienced: Only choose a friend or family member if you enjoy spending hours with them and feel casual about it. Moving in with someone that you have underlying issues with from a long relationship can result in stress when living close together.

Online Friends

In the modern world, you also have another interesting option: people you know online. Sometimes, our online friends are closer and more supportive emotionally than people we know in person. You may have a good friend who already lives in the area or is willing to move with you to become roommates.

If you've never met in person, of course, you'll need to go through the usual stranger-vetting stages before moving in. But this can be a great way to find someone you know you're already compatible within a lot of ways.

Coworkers

Very often, the reason for a move is work-related. Your job moved or you took a new job that also comes with a new work location. Well, as it turns out, colleagues of yours might be in the exact same situation. Especially if you were just relocated for a task that would require several other people to relocate.

If your move is temporary or hasty because of work, sometimes the best roommate might be a coworker. Put feelers out. Mention that you're currently looking for a roommate for the relocation and would be willing to room with a coworker for at least the first duration of the lease. You may also send this message to colleagues in the new location as well. 

A word from the wise and experienced: When rooming with coworkers, it's more important to maintain work-appropriate boundaries to avoid awkward situations when you're at work. However, it can also be great to share a schedule, work location, and industry insights with your roommate.

Roommate Matchmaking Services

If reaching out to people you know doesn't work, the best way to source strangers is through a roommate matchmaking service. A matchmaking service will probably ask you to fill out a profile on where you plan to move, your budget for rent, and something like a personality test to determine who you would be happy living with. They may also ask for permission to run a background check.

After a period of time, the service will get back to you with one to several suggestions for a good roommate match, other people who are currently looking for an apartment in the same area whose personalities and lifestyles might mesh well with yours. From here, you can review the candidates one by one as if you had met them any other way Many matchmaking services will also run background checks.

Marketing for a Roommate

Then there's the most common but least productive way of looking for a roommate: marketing and networking. You can advertise for a roommate in local publications or on Craigslist, join a roommate hunting group on Facebook, or make flyers and put them around. There are many ways to market for a roommate that mostly encourages interested strangers to reach out so you can interview them as roommate material.

There's nothing wrong with the marketing approach, but you will get very mixed results, from minimal response to dozens of random people you'll need to screen. Your best connections are likely to come from friends-of-friends.

The Selection Process

Finally, you will need to select the right roommate, and the process of choosing a roommate should involve more than just having a chat with each person. You need to make sure of three things. First, that they are cool, non-crazy people. Second, that you would enjoy living with them (and they would enjoy living with you). And third, that they are financially and personally responsible enough to uphold their end of the roommate agreement.

Multiple Interviews

In sitcoms, roommates are chosen after a fun montage of interviews with wacky characters who are definitely not right and one obviously perfect person. In reality, you will probably meet a lot of nice people who seem like they might be OK roommates. But you won't be able to get a reliable read on them in just one interview. Remember, people are on their best behavior during an interview. But you need a roommate who you think is cool even on their worst Saturday afternoon behavior.

The best way to interview is in stages, like job candidates. The first interview is mostly triage. To separate the "Maybe Yes"s from the "Definitely Not"s. Get everything you can and try to be thorough, but always hold a second interview with people who make it past the first sorting wave. Also encourage your roommate to interview you back. After all, you want them to be happy, too!

Test Flight Experience

Here's another piece of advice you don't often see: Test out your roommate-ship. If you both have the time and funds to make sure that you're 100% about the cohabitating situation, you can test how well you live together! Book an Airbnb, house, or apartment together for a few days and practice roommate life to discover if there are any surprises or compromises that need to be figured out before you both sign the lease.

Final Pre-Lease Agreements

Finally, our last piece of advice is about what to talk about with your new roommate once you choose them, but before you both move in. Every great roommate partnership is governed by a few basic agreements. Things that keep the peace and ensure that the apartment remains a place where both of you are happy and comfortable. This might be an agreement to take turns cooking dinner, to keep laundry off the floor, or to mark territories. Consider settling some pre-lease-signing agreements with your roommate before permanently tying your fates.

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Living with a roommate can be the best decision you've ever made — if you pick the right roommate and know how to start the partnership off right. Whether you start with someone you know or meet the perfect apartment-seeking stranger, this could be your chance to build a situation where you are living with your best friend. Quiet or noisy, neat or messy, we wish you luck on your roommate search and look forward to helping you find the perfect apartment to call "home."