Opinion | How to pick good roommates

By Emily O'Neil, Staff Columnist

Living with others can be a struggle. Everyone operates in different ways, including what time they go to bed, wake up, shower, eat and clean. However, one of the biggest misconceptions about living with others in college is that they must be your best friends.

You don’t always have to be close friends with your roommates — you just need to live with them. Living with close friends makes you realize and face their small little quirks, which may contribute to a strained friendship. 

Living off-campus creates more independent “adult” responsibilities, such as having bills to pay on time, a landlord to communicate with and living spaces that need regular maintenance and upkeep. A roommate relationship actually has a legal framework, making it vital to find someone you know will pay their fair share of rent, utilities and other costs.

Picking good roommates is also vital for your academic success. Living with people who let you function with limited distractions is key to successfully completing your academic work without always having to source a secondary location. 

Here are some simple tips for picking a good roommate: 

  1. Make a list of ideal roommate qualities

Reflecting on what type of person you are — quiet, messy, clean, like to stay out late, like to do homework in the library or in your living space — will help you to recognize whether or not a potential roommate has similar habits and will make for compatible living partners. I considered these factors before signing with my current roommates after my first year, when I failed to consider these aspects of living with other people and it resulted in a lot of stress. 

  1. Ask potential roommates tough questions 

Asking lots of questions, even uncomfortable ones, can save you from a bad roommate experience. Getting to know your potential roommate on more than just a surface level is important before signing a lease together, which will allow you to dive into the type of person your potential roommate is and help you decide how compatible you are. 

  1. Find out what your roommate expects from you 

Allowing your potential roommate to ask you questions can help you to both understand what each of you expects from one another and if it will allow you to live successfully together. Having potential roommates ask you questions allows you to see what is important to them and may even show if they may have agreed with one of your questions but, in reality, behave in a different way. 

  1. Find someone who is willing to contribute 

You will want a roommate who will pitch in with household chores and other added expenses. You do not want to feel resentful of your roommates if you feel like they are not contributing their fair share. This also goes for paying rent and bills — you want to have someone reliable to pay their fair share of expenses. 

This list is not all encompassing — there are other factors that go into deciding who you are going to live with. Make sure you know which factors are the most important to you when deciding who is going to be your roommate. 

A good roommate can turn into a lifelong friend, a person to talk to and help you to build a social network that can become a part of your support system. This list will hopefully lead to a positive experience that allows you to make connections with your roommates, create friendships and do well academically.

Emily O’Neil writes primarily about societal issues, politics and campus life. Write to her at [email protected].