25 Questions to Ask a Potential Roommate

Moving in with a significant other, with a close friend or with a co-worker all have their own pros and cons. But the scariest might be shacking up with someone you know little or nothing about. Be it someone you found on Craigslist or a friend of a friend, it’s important you have as much information about them as you can before you sign any dotted lines.

Friendly roommate interview questions

Whether you’re moving into someone else’s place, they’re moving into yours or you’re both new to the apartment, it’s critical you sit down with the potential roommate and give them a bit of a third degree to get to know them.

Here are 25 roommate questions to get you started — or jump to the section that has the question you need.

Questions about paying rent

1. What is the max you can spend on rent and can you put down a deposit? You’re going to want to know if your future roommate can handle a normal rent increase at the end of a lease cycle, and if they can pull their share of a security deposit and first/last month’s rent.

2. Have you ever failed to pay rent on time or needed to ask a roommate to cover for you? While this is an important question, a “yes” answer isn’t a deal-breaker. Ask follow-ups and learn what the circumstances were and if their financial situation has changed.

3. Are you okay splitting utilities 50/50? If a potential roommate is going to nitpick about who used more water or who has more stuff plugged in, that may not be a good fit for you.

4. Do you have enough money put away for an unanticipated expense or emergency? Whether the couch breaks and you have to share the cost of a new one or if an unexpected car repair causes trouble with their personal budget, you’ll want to know there’s money set aside to still cover rent and utilities.

Questions about romantic relationships

5. Are you in a relationship or plan to be? If the new roommate is seeing someone, find out how often they plan to have them by to hang out, eat, sleep over or participate in living room PDA, and be sure you’re OK with their answers.

6. How do you feel about S.O.’s and other out-of-town guests spending the night? If you’re uncomfortable with virtual strangers sleeping over but they insist their significant other stays over often. If that’s acceptable, set ground rules before you add a roomie to the lease.

Questions about drug or alcohol use and criminal history

7. Are you a smoker or drug user and how often do you drink at home? It’s pretty straight forward. If they give you answers that are unacceptable to you, move on. And if you’re OK with any of these vices, set mutual limits so you’re both happy.

8. Have you ever been arrested and for what? You can’t tell what’s in someone’s past by looking at them, so this question is a must. Again, a “yes” reply doesn’t mean they’re a bad person or can’t be a great roommate. Just get all the information from them first before you judge and decide.

Question about pets

9. Do you have or are planning on getting a pet and do you mind if I have one? If they’re a dog person (and want one) and you’re not or you have a cat and they’re allergic, it’s not going to work. If your pet-wanting desires match, be sure both of you know who is responsible for food, walking, cleanup and other expenses.

Questions about schedule

10. What is your work schedule and do you regularly work from home? You should have a clear understanding of your roomie’s work schedule and how it intersects with yours. If you’re on opposite schedules, that could be problematic for both of you. And if they work remotely and you’re home watching TV, that might not be the best situation either.

11. Are you a morning person or night person, what time do you head to bed and are you a heavy or light sleeper? Almost nothing causes more roommate resentment than keeping the other up or waking them every morning getting up. Be sure your schedules are compatible to manage issues like noise, bathroom timing and kitchen use.

12. What is your routine on an average day? Outside of work schedules, make sure your daily routines mesh. If they like hanging out in their room all day, they use the treadmill every morning at four or they eat dinner at a weird time, you’ll have to decide if you’re OK with conflicting schedules.

13. What do you like to do at night after work and on the weekends? Finding out what your potential roommate does in their spare time will decide if you’re going to be home alone often, watching TV while they’re doing yoga or you’ll be shuttered away in your room while they FaceTime with their friends. Or maybe you’ll have tons of interests in common.

14. How often do you travel for work or pleasure? This question is code for “How often will you be away from the apartment?” If a future roommate is out of town visiting family or hitting the convention circuit, that may be the perfect situation for you if you value some alone time but also need to split the rent.

15. How long do you plan to stay here? If you have an amount of time you’re hoping for a roommate to stick around before you have to find a new one, make sure your prospect fits that timeframe (and maybe put that into the lease if necessary).

Questions about cleaning and personal habits

16. How often do you like to clean? This is critical. Oscar and Felix only get along in the movies. If they leave the living room strewn with Amazon packaging, a ring in the tub or pile dishes up in the sink and you’re a neat freak, it’s not going to work out.

17. What temperature do you set the thermostat at during winter and summer? It may seem like a small thing, but if you and a roommate are temperature incompatible, that could become a big problem. Make sure you two are at least in the same thermo-ballpark. And discuss compromises like sweatpants, oscillating fans and space heaters.

18. What are your top pet peeves, your worst habits and what are deal breakers in a roommate? Find out now, because if incompatible issues come up after the roommate has moved in, it may be too late. Or maybe you’ll find out that you match pet peeves and then no one will load the dishwasher wrong!

Questions about allergies

19. Do you have food restrictions or a special diet? If you’re addicted to peanut butter and your potential has a deathly peanut allergy, that will become an issue. If you are vegan, keep kosher or adhere to halal foods and your roomie constantly eats pork chops, he or she might not be the right choice.

20. Do you have allergies? Aside from nut and pet allergies mentioned above, discuss any other potential hazards like reactions to certain cleaning products, clothing materials or dust and dander. Most of these can be overcome, but you never know what might be a problem until you ask.

Questions about interests

21. What TV shows, video games and kinds of music do you like? Listen, you and your roommate don’t have to be besties, but it’s nice to have pastimes in common. If you like the same genres of movies, music and gaming, you might have found the perfect partner.

22. Are you introverted or extroverted? Leonard and Penny, Luke and Lorelai, Patrick and SpongeBob. Yes, sometimes a quiet soul and an outgoing personality can get along. But if you’re reserved and your housemate is loud and gregarious, or vice versa, you need to decide if you’re cool with that.

23. Do you lean more conservative or liberal? Let’s not beat around the bush. While you can be roommates or friends with someone of the opposite political leaning, in the current environment, “Who did you vote for?” isn’t an intrusive question. It might be one that keeps a toxic environment from being created every time news breaks.

Questions about the previous living situation

24. Do you have references and what would previous landlords say about you? Having another human co-occupy your space is a big deal. Do your due diligence. Find out from the people that know them what kind of person they are and if they’re responsible tenants.

25. Did you get along with old roommates? If they’re still BFFs with an old roommate, that’s a good sign. And if they didn’t get along, find out why. This is a good chance to discuss what they liked and didn’t like about previous living situations. And if they’ve never had a roommate, give them the 411 on what you’re expecting from them.

Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash
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Michael HochmanMichael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga, and beyond, and can be found at @phillyparttwo.

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