Thirteen essential questions to ask potential roommates

Coliving with roommates can be an incredibly enriching experience. It allows you to live independently, but together—you’ve got your own room and life, but there’s a community in your home when you want company. Living with roommates also makes living in a city with a high cost of living more accessible, as shared homes are less expensive than solo living options. 

But your enjoyment of coliving hinges on living with the right people. It’s imperative to do your due diligence during your roommate search: Get to know all candidates through detailed discussions that dive into daily routines, hobbies, and your overall vision for your shared home. Make sure to cover your daily routines, hobbies, standards of cleanliness, and more.

stack of colored post-its with question mark

Table of contents

Questions about roommate relations1. Are you looking for a new friend, or just a roommate?2. Will you want to cook and shop together or on your own?3. Tell me about any conflicts in your past living situations and how you resolved them.Questions about apartment cleanliness4. How often do you clean?5. Do you smoke?6. Do you have any pets?Questions about social life7. Do you have a partner?8. Will you be having overnight guests and if so, how often?9. Do you like to host social gatherings?10. How often do you drink and go out? Questions about schedule11. What’s a typical workday like for you?12. Do you mostly cook or eat out?13. Anything else?

This roommate interview is as important as interviewing for a job or going on a first date. This person is going to be woven into the fabric of your life, and ensuring you share the same values and expectations will improve your chances of homefront harmony. 

Start with this roommate questionnaire, and don’t hesitate to add your own. Again, like a job interview or a date, this conversation goes both ways. You’re interviewing your potential roommate, but you’re also giving them information and assessing the vibe to see if you’ll be good roommates. Honesty with yourself and the other person about your deal-breakers is your best shot at long-term compatibility.

Questions about roommate relations

1. Are you looking for a new friend, or just a roommate?

Living with your best friends can strain your friendships, which is why launching a roommate search complete with a list of questions like this is a great alternative. But when you live with someone, you might start becoming friends, and in fact, many people seek this out. Discussing your openness to friendship versus simply sharing a living space with your potential roommate up-front will help prevent feelings from getting hurt in case those expectations are mismatched.

2. Will you want to cook and shop together or on your own?

Some people want roommates just to help reduce their monthly rent, while others hope to share the overall cost of living. Grocery shopping and cooking together can make your home more efficient in both time and money—no traffic jams in the kitchen!—as well as create a foundation for bonding. If you think you have the compatibility to split responsibilities, discuss what that might look like.

3. Tell me about any conflicts in your past living situations and how you resolved them.

Pay careful attention to this one. Ask them to tell you about a time a conflict came up in a past living situation, and how they approached the difficult conversation with their roommate(s). How do they talk about past roommates? If you detect gossip or irritation, that could be a red flag. So could someone who vehemently denies the presence of any issues—ever notice how people who say they “hate drama” are usually the most dramatic of anyone? 

Look for someone who maturely reflects on past issues and talks about others diplomatically. This shows that they probably have a growth mindset. In other words, they see the conflict resolution process as an opportunity to learn and change rather than an excuse to jump to conclusions and judgments.

roommates hanging out by the dining table

Questions about apartment cleanliness

4. How often do you clean?

Try to understand what their standards for cleanliness are, and if they’ll be willing to contribute to their fair share of chores. How often do they deep clean? Have they successfully divvied up chores with roommates in the past? If someone says they’re a neat freak but they don’t have a solid cleaning routine  (“Oh, you know..I just clean when it’s dirty”) that’s another red flag.

5. Do you smoke?

If one of you smokes and the other doesn’t, you might run into trouble as the smell can bother non-smokers. Get on the same page about habitual or even occasional smoking.

6. Do you have any pets?

This is about both cleanliness and daily household life. The pet owner should take responsibility for both cleanup and care.

Questions about social life

7. Do you have a partner?

A roommate with a long-term partner could mean that you’re actually signing up for two roommates, only one of whom pays rent. Or, it could mean you’re going to be basically living alone. Find out how often your potential roommate sees their significant other. If they’re single, what’s their dating life like?

8. Will you be having overnight guests and if so, how often?

What’s their philosophy on family and friends visiting? Do they host or send people to a hotel? How does their dating situation impact you in terms of sleepovers—will you be seeing their partner a lot, or will a stranger be sleeping down the hall from you sometimes? On the flip side, what are their expectations of you in this department?

9. Do you like to host social gatherings?

Co-hosting events can be a great way to bond and meet new people through your roommate’s social network. But if one roommate is always hosting events, it can make the other roommates feel like a guest in their own home.

10. How often do you drink and go out?

Partying can impact shared standards for cleanliness or each others’ sleep schedules, so be up-front about your habits.

male roommate working from couch while female roommate does yoga

Questions about schedule

11. What’s a typical workday like for you?

Make sure you walk through each of your daily work schedules, from morning until night. The times when you’ll both need the common areas can become points of tension. Plus, if someone works from home and needs space and quiet time, that can put pressure on all members of the household, so comparing schedules is key.

12. Do you mostly cook or eat out?

If you’re both trying to be the next Melissa Clark and want to use the kitchen for different things at same time, that’s going to cause issues. You might be most compatible with someone who’s actually your opposite in this category; or, if there’s mutual desire to cook together, you might become home cooking’s next dynamic duo.

13. Anything else?

When journalists turn their microphones off, that’s usually when their source divulges the juiciest tidbit. Whatever comes up at the end of your conversation could turn out to be even more important than the rest, so don’t tune out until you’ve parted ways.

Living with roommates presents many opportunities for learning and growth, and that starts with this list of roommate questions. Even assessing your compatibility is good practice for living and working with people. So don’t breeze through this conversation—be thorough, pay attention to the chemistry between you, and be honest with yourself and others.

Great roommates are the essential ingredient in a happy home. Bungalow offers private rooms in shared homes—and the best roommates to share them with. Unlike other shared housing options, Bungalow vets all residents and helps you match with roommates who share your living preferences and interests. Find your next home on Bungalow.

Ready to find your next home?

Move-in ready homes and a built-in community so you can feel at home, together — wherever you are.

Suggested articles

loading spinner
Move in ready homes and a built-in community so you can feel at home, together — wherever you are.