How to Screen Potential Roommates: Questions to Ask | My Move

How to Screen Potential Roommates: Questions to Ask

Author: Dawn Allcot

Finding a roommate or roommates requires persistence, intuition and, sometimes, the skills of a top level human resources executive.

When you screen roommates, you'll want to look at a number of factors: financial-, personal- and lifestyle-related. Use the following tips to become a successful roommate finder.

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Financial Questions to Ask Roommates

This can be a touchy topic, but you have every right to discover if your roommate will be able to pay her share of the rent and utilities. For only $30 or less, you can pull a prospective roommate's credit report through In today's economy, this could be a worthwhile investment.

In lieu of a credit report, here are some tactful questions you can ask during your roommate search:

  • How long have you been at your current job?
  • Where is it located? (Be skeptical if the new apartment would create a long commute; roommates might decide to leave their job or the apartment if the commute is significantly longer than what they're used to.)
  • What are your other current expenses?
  • How much are you currently paying in rent? (This will give you a good idea of whether or not they can afford the expenses in your apartment.)
  • Rent and utilities will be X number of dollars, due on the first of every month. Does this meet your expectations and budget?

Chances are, your roommate will want to know the bottom line; no one wants to be evicted or fail to live up to their financial responsibilities.

You can also discuss how utilities and shared living expenses, such as groceries, will be split. Watch their body language. Does talking about money make them feel uncomfortable? Do you get the sense they're lying or perhaps unsure about their financial future?

RELATED: 8 Financial Tips for Your First Apartment

Personal and Lifestyle Questions to Ask Roommates

  • What are your working hours? (This can help you find a person who keeps hours similar to yours, or perhaps completely different hours.)
  • Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
  • What do you like to do on the weekends? (This will let you know if the person is a party animal, a home-body or somewhere in between).
  • Any pets?
  • Any allergies?
  • Smoker, drinker, drug-user? (Ask these early in the interview process, as these could be deal-breakers, either because of your own preferences, allergies, or landlord's rules.)
  • Are you a vegetarian?
  • How long do you plan or expect to live here?
  • What annoys you? (This will give you insight into their character.)
  • Do you consider yourself to be exceptionally neat or about average? (Chances are your roommate prospects won't admit to being a slob. But if someone is a tyrant about cleanliness, and you're not, this can create problems, too. Again, listen carefully to their answer and also watch their body language.)
  • Why are you leaving the place you're currently living? (Just as in a job interview, be wary of roommates who badmouth their former landlord or roommates.)
  • Is there anything you'd like to tell me about yourself or would like to learn about me? (This can open the doorway to additional discussions about lifestyle, sexuality and personal beliefs, which can help you determine if the living arrangement will be a good fit.)

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Easy Living Begins with Selecting the Right Roommates

Of course, considerations like whether they can afford the rent and utilities and if your prospective roommates seem responsible come first. But take some time during the roommate search to ask about their personal hobbies and interests and make small talk to get to know them better.

When you find someone you "click" with on certain levels, it's just that much easier to get along. Chances are your prospective roommate will appreciate finding out this information about you, as well.

RELATED: Roommate Problems: What to Do When You Don't Get Along

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