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Choosing a roommate to share your college experiences with is both an exciting and scary prospect. It might seem like the obvious choice would be your closest friend- that one person who is in all your Facebook photos, knows your class schedule like its their own, and is always down to go to that house party on Friday with you. However, sometimes the optimal roommate is not one of your besties. The perfect roommate doesn’t need to be someone who you do everything together with; instead, they need to be the person who best gets along with your lifestyle.

Of course, it’s always best to room with someone that you know on a personal level to an extent. Getting to know a potential roommate is the way you’ll know if they’re compatible with your lifestyle and vice versa. Consider the following the topics when deciding if this person is the right roommate for you.

Study Habits

School is priority, so you need someone who is going to allow you to focus on your schoolwork when need be. Talk to your potential roommate about their study habits; do they study at the library? Do they study at home? Do they prefer to study in a loud or quiet environment? If someone likes to study with Kanye West blaring in the background but you need silence in order to concentrate, then this might not be the best roommate situation.


Everyone needs their own time alone, so if you have a roommate who is constantly bringing friends over at 1am then it’s not going to be a good situation. It’s important to have a roommate whose social habits reflect yours. You need to agree on rules surrounding visitors because the last thing you want is a party at your house the night before your chemistry midterm. Would this roommate be okay with your out-of-town friends staying over on the weekends? Do you both want to throw parties? How late it too late to bring friends over? If you both don’t answer similarly or the same to questions like these, then being roommates may not be the best idea.

Cleaning Habits

You’re both going to be sharing a common space, so neither of you will want to feel like you have to clean up after the other. It’s a reality that there are some people who take cleanliness more seriously than others. If you’re someone who is a bit of a neat freak, then it’s best to not live with someone who doesn’t mind it when people call their room a disaster zone. You don’t want to be stressed out by the state your roommate left your apartment in, so make sure you can live with their cleaning habits (or lack there of).

Budget and Location

Maybe you think you’ve found the perfect roommate, but when it comes to talking about your budgets and preferred location neither of you can agree. Everyone’s budget is going to vary depending on their financial situation and personal taste. Likewise, everyone’s location preference will also vary too. Some people prefer to be closer to campus (where it tends to be more expensive), while others prefer a spot a bit farther away. Never sign a lease with a price or in a location that you’re not happy with because you’ll be stuck with that apartment until that lease is up.

Sleeping Habits

Just like with studying habits, it’s important to find a roommate who’s sleeping habits are compatible with yours. If you’re an early riser but your roommate is not, they’re not going to appreciate you making noise in the kitchen when they’re trying to sleep off last night’s adventures. Similarly, if you’re not a night person, you don’t want to be kept awake by a noisy roommate who doesn’t go to bed until the crack of dawn. Your sleeping pattern greatly affects your ability to function, so it’s important to make sure your roommate isn’t going to impede your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Similar Interests

You definitely don’t need to be best friends or even close with a roommate for it to be a successful relationship. However, it’s helpful if you have a few things in common. You’ll want a topic to chat about at the dinner table or something to do on those weekday nights when you’re both home and bored. Making sure you both get a long and can have fun together is the icing on the cake for a successful roommate situation. Before you agree to be someone’s roommate, try hanging out a few times on your own to make sure that a good dynamic is there.

Communication is the key in finding the perfect roommate. Discussing these topics over with a potential roommate will reveal how compatible the both of you are. It’s imperative to make sure you’re on the same page about important issues like these before you start apartment hunting and definitely before you sign a lease. Don’t let a negative roommate experience ruin your college experience. There are already so many things to stress about in University, so make sure an incompatible roommate isn’t one of them.

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the author

Alexandra is a third year student at McGill University studying Joint Honors Political Science and Philosophy with a minor in Sexual Diversity Studies. She is an aspiring writer with publications appearing on The Huffington Post, Her Campus McGill, Elite Daily, The Main, College Fashionista, Unwritten, and, of course, The Prospect. She is a self admitted coffee addict and Netflix Junkie with an unhealthy obsession for plaid shirts. Alexandra is passionate about maintaining perfect hair, solving the problems of consequentialism, and perfecting her sarcasm. In her spare time she enjoys binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, shopping as a sport, and composing blatantly angsty music. When she’s not studying at her infamous corner of the library, you can find Alexandra at whatever concert is happening that night or working on her Pinterest boards. Follow her on Twitter @AlmostAlexandra or instagram @alexandrasakellariou.

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