Students usually pick their own roommates, who often are long-time friends. But being the best of friends is often not the same as being able to live with each other, as many students discover the hard way. Unless you have lived with the person for some time previously (at least six months), do not assume you will get along until you have explored your positions on various potential conflict areas as those indicated by the following questions.
- What kind and size of facility are you seeking?
- Where do you want to live?
- Do you want a furnished or unfurnished apartment?
- Are you willing to share a bedroom or do you prefer your own?
- When and where do you prefer to study? Is quiet essential?
- Would you mind someone who smokes cigarettes?
- Would you mind someone who drinks alcohol?
- Would you mind someone who uses illegal drugs?
- How often do you like to be alone?
- Does your prospective roommate have a boy/girl friend?
- Would you object if he/she spends a lot of time in your apartment?
- When do you like to go to bed & get up?
- Do lights and noise bother you when you’re trying to sleep?
- How warm do you like your room? Are you a “fresh-air fiend”?
- What kind of music do you like? How often, how loud?
- Are you a neat or messy person?
- What do you expect in a roommate?
- When and where do you like to party?
- Would overnight guests bother you?
- Are your interests compatible?
- Who will be responsible for having utilities connected ad for paying necessary deposits?
- Do you plan to share food costs? (Be very specific here)
- Are you willing to share clothes, books, records, etc.?
This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but should help you determine how compatible you will be with a given person. If it seems like you won’t get along well with the person you have tentatively selected, say NO and keep the person as a friend. On the other hand, if you find you are compatible, remember that any kind of worthwhile relationship with people requires lots of give and take and lots of attention. If problems arise, discuss them with each other immediately, no matter how petty the gripe may be—this is one of the hardest things for most people to do, but one of the most important ingredients of a lasting relationship.
Sample Roommate Contract
Each tenant within a rental unit has certain rights that should not be abridged by a roommate. As roommates, we fully understand these rights, and the responsibilities of a shared living environment and agree to live together, for better or for worse, until the rental period ends.
As a roommate, I agree:
- To let my roommate read and study in quietness, and not make noise or other disturbances considered by that roommate to be a distraction.
- To let my roommate sleep in quietness, and not make noises or engage in other disturbances that interrupt sleep.
- To clean up after myself in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or in any other room that I create a mess.
- To respect my roommate’s personal belongings by not moving or touching them without permission.
- To control the visitations of my guests so they do not interfere with my roommate’s right to personal privacy and quietness.
- To pay my share of the rent to the landlord per the rental contract.
- To pay my share of the food, telephone, utilities, and other financial obligations that we discuss.
- To not borrow money, car, or other personal property from my roommate unless it is offered.
- To perform my share of cleaning, cooking and maintenance.
- To openly and objectively discuss any problems and concerns that we have and attempt to negotiate a written settlement, if necessary.
- To settle all mutually unresolvable disputes by using an outside mediator.
Other negotiable roommate concerns: