Moving is so stressful. But you know what else is stressful? Taking over a lease for an apartment and having to fill up the rooms. Aside from making the place look as desirable as possible and trying to not look so upset that your perfect BFF roommate is leaving you to move in with their S.O., you need to make sure you’re going to be able to deal with whichever new person takes their place. While they’re ooh-ing and ah-ing over your open kitchen layout, you’re gonna want to make sure you’re asking the right questions of people renting a room in your apartment.
There’s a different dynamic when you’re the one taking roommates in.
There is! Of course, having roommates means that you always have to be flexible about the living situation. But renting a room out is a little different than moving into a new place with complete strangers, mostly because you get to decide who will be a good fit for your home.
Obvs, remember that apartment hunting is painfully hard, so you don’t want to seem like you’re shaking someone down just so they move in. Screening incoming roommates is sort of an art. Here are some good questions to weasel into seemingly harmless small talk so you can get all the deets without adding to anyone’s stress levels.
1“What do you do for a living?”
People’s professions do not define them. But they do give you some insight into how regularly they’ll be able to pony up for bills and rent, as well as what kind of schedule they keep. They’re a corporate lawyer? Great, likely they’re never home and can throw down a deposit and first month today. A graphic designer intern? That’s a whole different story.
2“Do you like to cook?”
This question will yield all kinds of answers. Someone who likes to cook might be in the tiny AF kitchen every dinnertime whipping up food. They might also offer you some, or have really great kitchen gear that you can use, which is a bonus. Someone who doesn’t enjoy the culinary arts might come with no kitchen appliances and be out every night for dinner (or holed up with takeout in their room). None of these things are bad — just good to know, so you can see how that fits with your life.
3“What’s your morning routine like?”
Yes, this is personal and a little creepy to ask right away, so maybe reword it. But if you’ve been living in the same apartment for 5 years and take your shower at 7:45 a.m. on the dot so you can make it to the office right on time, you’re not going to be happy when it turns out Roomie #3 is on the exactly same clock.
This also goes for knowing if someone bakes a quiche or whips up kale smoothies every morning, and you just need the counter space to get your coffee brewed. Weekday mornings can make or break a roommate relationship.
4“Whaddya got in storage?”
Hey, the real estate market is tough, but sometimes a person has to make the tough choices. A potential roommate you’re otherwise on the fence about who has a piece of furniture or appliance that you desperately want/need? Sometimes worth it.
5“Are you single?”
This is a good one, because you can figure out if they sleep out at their partner’s house sometimes or like to bring one (or many!) dates into the house. It also gives you a chance to tell them whether you do or don’t have someone in your room a lot and what your general preferences are about that. Some people really hate when a roommate’s S.O. is at the house night after night, while other people really just don’t care. Things can get ugly really quick.
6“How do you feel about guests?”
Maybe you’re looking to recreate Friends and love your crew coming in and out of your apartment all the time. Or maybe you hate when people bring new friends they just made at the bar for late-night dance parties every weekend. Either way, you should get a feel for someone’s social life. The last thing you want is someone to move in and then find out they give you a death stare every time you have friends over during award show season.
7“Do you drink or smoke?”
You definitely want to get an idea about whether your new roommate likes to make sure there’s always booze in the fridge or will have a delivery coming over once in a while, especially if you have strong opinions about either activity.
8“Why are you moving out of your old place?”
This should be question number one. You can get a good sense if this person loves the #drama or whether they just didn’t want to renew their old lease. Your call about whatever that means for your future together.
Finding a new roommate is not easy. Remember, they don’t have to be perfect, just not too hard to handle.