How to Pick the Perfect College Roommate

A roommate can make or break your college experience, and it is likely that you will have more than one roommate during your time in college. I have had the unique privilege of having new roommates each year of college. I have had assigned roommates, an assigned roommate join me for another year, a group of women in a house from my friend community and I even found a roommate on Craigslist!

My first year involved a semester at the United States Naval Academy where the student population consists of 80 percent males and only about 20 percent females. This is extremely unusual for a college, but I was still assigned two roommates out of the nine total girls in my company. This type of arrangement had its perks because we bonded over the hardships that the Academy presented us, and I am still in touch with one of them.

My second semester, I lived with three other girls in the on-campus apartment complex and that worked out for the most part. We were all very different in our own ways. One of the roommates was a bit of an oddball. She made her own clothes, had a wall covered with those creepy dolls that you see in scary movies and was disturbingly dirty.

The next year I lived with one of those three other roommates at an apartment off campus. We did a nursing course together, but she was in and out of the hospital a bunch and tended to get stressed out, which meant she would freak out.

Last year, I moved into a house with three other women, three female cats and a female dog. Needless to say it was a lot of estrogen under one roof. I shared a bathroom, helped prepare meals and enjoyed some awesome chats with those ladies during my time in the house. I am a social dancer and the house was basically a dancer house. Three out of the four of us danced and about once a month we would have a dance party with food and good music at our house. Good times.

Now I am a grad student in a new state at a new school and finding a roommate was a difficult task. I did not know anyone and I was a bit outside the age group to live on campus, so I turned to where you go to find something you need: Craigslist. Who would have thought that I would find the perfect roommate on Craigslist? But it is definitely possible.

Here are my “How-to’s” to finding a perfect roommate…

Be Flexible if Assigned a Roommate

The best thing you can do is be flexible. Yes, you may not have been able to pick your roommate, but neither did your new roommate. You need to remember that you are both coming from different places and have different expectations. Do not be quick to judge based on appearances, but open up and give your new roommate a chance.

Yes, this is easier said than done at times, but you might be surprised how much you and your new roommate will have in common, and I can promise you that there are things that you will have in common with them.

Consider Continuing with a Roommate for More Than a Year

If you have been assigned a roommate and you guys get along well enough, then consider continuing the roommate situation with them. You get to know them better and work alongside them to pay rent and bills.

I recommend this when you decide to finally break out and move off campus. It is a good option because it lets you live with someone you already know and they are generally on a similar track as you in terms of school. That means you guys can carpool to class or work together on homework at night.

“Interview” Potential Roommates

It is completely acceptable to interview any potential roommates. You do not want to commit to a year lease in a new apartment with someone that you haven’t discussed expectations with. It is important for both parties to be aware of what they are getting into. Here are some good questions to ask a potential roommate:

  • “On a scale of one to 10, how clean would you say you are?”
  • “How are you planning on paying rent and utilities each month?”
  • “Do you smoke/drink/party?”
  • “Are you a morning or night person?”
  • “Do you have a boyfriend or are you expecting guests to visit often?”
  • “What are some of your hobbies?”
  • “Would you want to go on adventures to get to know the area?”

The list goes on, but as you can see it is good to ask some broad and specific questions. It lets you know what to expect and hopefully your interests and expectations are similar. I know for myself, having a clean and reliable roommate was the most important thing. After living with a few roommates you will start getting an idea of what characteristics are particularly important to you.

Search High and Low, and Even Online

Obviously, you do not really have this option if you are assigned a roommate, but after the first year of college this option becomes available. One of the easiest ways I found is by just keeping in touch with friends that you have developed at school or in the community. I moved into the house full of women because I heard that the landowner was looking through some mutual friends. This way tends to be easy and fairly straightforward because you know everyone going in on it.  I also think this is the most common way that most people find roommates.

There are various search engines for finding roommates and I even know that some colleges provide an online forum to find someone. I recommend being extra picky when approaching this option. You are trying to meet someone you do not know, who might be older/younger/in their career/student etc. and there are various factors involved. First off you need to know exactly what you want and are looking for in a roommate. Always be careful when dealing with people online and only give pertinent information, but nothing that is personal. The great thing about this option is that you are expanding your search pool of possible roommates.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find the perfect roommate like I did on Craigslist of all places!

Be a Perfect (or at least a really good) Roommate Yourself!

Most people forget that one of the keys to finding the perfect roommate is by being a perfect roommate yourself. Obviously, don’t lie about yourself and your expectations, because that will lead to a lot of drama and fighting between your roommate and you.

This means that you need to reflect those characteristics that you want to see in a roommate. If you want a clean and reliable roommate that means you should help keep the common spaces clean and also pay your rent on time. Hopefully when you are looking for a roommate, they are also asking you some of those interview questions too, and it helps to be able to respond to those questions similarly to how you want your new roommate to respond.

If you keep this “How To” guide in mind, then you might find the perfect roommate for yourself. There are exceptions, and you might find the perfect roommate that a school has assigned you, but more often than not, it takes some trial and error before you find the right roommate.

My Craigslist roomie…and the best roommate I have had yet.
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