Tips with Trish: Picking a Roommate

by Tricia Borelli

Dear Trish,

This time of year brings me so much anxiety. I have lots of friends on campus, but I really don’t have a “best” friend. I don’t know how to go about finding a roommate for next year. I hear people talking about it, and I’m not sure if I should just chime in and ask or wait until someone approaches me. I think I really want to live with other people, but I haven’t had the best experiences in the past. Living alone could be the perfect answer, but I’m an introvert and am afraid I won’t leave my room much if I go that route. I would love your thoughts on what to look for and how to go about having the conversation.

Signed,

Need a Roomie

Trish says,

There is nothing magical about asking someone to be your roommate. You likely won’t get a tingly feeling inside letting you know he or she is the one, so don’t look for that. If you have been around someone and the thought of that person as a roommate has popped up in your mind, chances are they may be the one for you. Here are some things to ask yourself to find out if a conversation needs to be had. If you get the answers you want from these questions, stop avoiding and just have the conversation.

Find out how they live. Do they watch Netflix a lot, stay home all of the time, like to have friends over? Are their friends loud and rowdy or quiet and reserved? Get as much information as possible or drop by their current place to get an idea of how they live. Doing this will also help you assess their habits for cleanliness. Do they expect your place to be spotless all of the time? Do they have a current rule with a roommate about washing dishes within 24 hours? Are there excessive beer cans in the garbage? Do they need the thermostat at 80 degrees? There is no right way of living, but it is important that your habits are similar. Lastly, find out their sleep schedule. Are they nocturnal? An early riser? These similarities/differences do not mean you are not meant to be roommates but do indicate that you may have some challenges.

Some other things to consider, especially if you live off campus, are finances. Is your roommate financially secure (or as financially secure as most people in college)? Can they pay their bills on time and won’t need to borrow from you or fail to pay when something comes due? Obviously, an employed roommate is a little more secure than an unemployed one. Discussing the sharing of bills also opens the door to talk about sharing other things. Some roommates are okay with sharing food while others are not. Talk about how you want to handle groceries and household supplies like toilet paper, cleaning solutions, etc. How about clothes? Do you allow open access to the closet? Talking about things before it becomes a problem is recommended. Remember that roommate contract you did at the beginning of freshman year? There was a reason you did it then.

Lastly, ask yourself if you like being in the company of the particular person and vice versa?  You don’t have to be best friends but your basic temperaments need to match. And being able to be open and have good communication is another must. Consider if your time together is filled with laughter and good dialogue. Hopefully your answer to this question will help you decide if someone is a good roommate.

Signed,

Trish

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