Questions to ask potential roommates

March 22, 2020

Upon hearing that I've spent a good decade living with roomates, a colleague recently asked me for some tips when it came to apartment / roommate hunting. I scoured through my notes and found a little checklist that I had come up with over the years:

Do you smoke?

A smoke-free environment for me was an absolute must. A follow up to this question was if my potential roommate was doing other drugs - also not my scene.

What is your schedule like?

Since I was pretty much doing 9-to-5 for the most part, I was looking for someone who was compatible with these hours, i.e. not up running around the apartment late at night. Funnily enough, I was a bit of a night owl myself. However, this really only involved me sitting in front of my computer with the headphones on - nothing dramatic.

What sort of amenities / issues does the apartment come with?

A washer/dryer is a huge convenience. Issues such as rodents, leaks, etc. aren't necessarily a dealbreaker as long as the landlord is responsive. Invariably something or the other does go wrong and it's essential that you can communicate in a timely manner with the landlord to get issues settled.

Also, if there is some storage place (or parking) to store bigger items like bikes, that is a big bonus.

How are the chores distributed?

Living together means doing the chores together. I've lived in situations where I was the only one cleaning and situations where the chores were well distributed via a fixed schedule. Unfortunately, we don't always do what we say and this one would just need to be taken at face value. If you find dirty dishes or a messy apartment during your visit, this is obviously a bit of a red flag.

How social are you?

I wasn't cooking everyday but I would definitely cook up something once in a while and loved sharing it as well. If anyone has food restrictions or are not okay with something like meat being cooked at home, it's essential to clear that up beforehand.

Moreover, it is very important to get a clear picture of the number of people you will actually end up living with. I've been in situations where both my roomates essentially lived with their respective significant others leaving me pretty much alone at home. In other situations we were 3 people living in a cramped apartment that barely supported 2 people, for most of the week.

A last item of interest is the frequency and number of friends and relatives staying or popping by the apartment. I'm relatively a social person so this did not bother me too much but it's good to know if you can expect your roomie's mother to be doing the laundry on Sunday morning when you are not the most presentable.

What are the neighbours like?

This is a point that does not get much attention but living with good neighbours is a huge positive. I've had some really great experiences here and would recommend getting to know your neighbours well. Chances are they are also living in a shared space and it's great to be able to throw huge parties with them :)

Happy apartment hunting!