Tips for Parents

7 Ways to Find the Right College Roommate

By Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent

Finding the right roommate can be a tricky process, especially if you don’t know where to start. But choosing a roommate who will be compatible is very important to your overall well-being and your sanity. Living with someone who you don’t get along with can be a nightmare. Just because someone may be a great friend of yours doesn’t mean that they’ll be a great roommate. Today, I’ll share my tips to help you find the right roommate.

Setting Expectations with Your Roommate  

The more you know about a person, and what they’ll be like to live with, the better your odds of finding someone who will be a good fit for you. There are 7 big things that you should discuss upfront to find the right roommate:

  • Housing Budget
  • Cleanliness Expectations
  • Sharing Food
  • Night Owl or Early Bird?
  • Desired Study Environment
  • Type of Housing
  • Other

College Roommate Compatibility Checklist

1. Housing Budget

Make sure to discuss your housing budget with any potential roommate. Is their budgeted range aligned with yours? Or are they looking for something much more or less expensive? Do they plan to split bills evenly (such as utilities, cable and internet)? Who will be responsible for paying bills and deciding how much each roommate owes? (If you’re not sure about your budget, read How to Set Your Apartment Rent Budget).

2. Cleanliness Expectations

What are your expectations around cleanliness? Are you a “make-the-bed every day” kind of person or more laidback? Do you do the dishes right after you cook, or leave them in the sink? How will you split up chores, such as cleaning shared areas?

3. To Share or Not to Share?

Do you prefer to share groceries with your roommate, or handle grocery shopping on your own? Surprisingly, this is a big area of contention for many roommates. Some people prefer to shop for their own groceries and cook their own meals, while others prefer to shop together and split the costs evenly. Either way, make sure to talk through this upfront.

4. Night Owl or Early Bird?

Do you like to stay up late or get up early? Are you a light or heavy sleeper? While your roommate doesn’t have to be on the exact same schedule as you, it works best if they’re generally quiet when you’re quiet and loud when you’re loud, especially when sharing a small space.

5. Ideal Study Environment

How much do you typically study during the week? Do you like to study at home? If so, what kind of a study environment do you like best? Quiet? Busy? Do you prefer to study with music?

6. Type of Housing

What kind of housing are you looking for? Apartment? Single-family house? Do you want to have lots of roommates or just one or two? Are there any particular amenities that are important to them, such as having laundry facilities on site or finding a place that’s walking distance to campus? Whether you want a studio apartment or a 4-bedroom home, lets you search and sort off-campus housing by size, price, amenities, and distance to campus.

7. Other Questions to Ask

Have you had a roommate before? How would they describe you? What did you like and not like about your last roommate? What’s your ideal roommate like? What do you like to do when you’re not studying? Do you plan to have parties at home?

While it may seem silly to talk through these questions upfront, doing so will make it much easier to find someone who you’ll really enjoy living with.

About the Author

Sarah Schupp is the founder of UniversityParent, the place for parents to find connection, support and information. The site helps parents navigate everything from college admissions to graduation. She’s also the author of two books for parents, The UniversityParent Guide to the Senior Year of High School and The UniversityParent Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year. Sarah lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and two daughters.

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