The roommate relationship is like no other. Sharing a living space means letting all of your habits and quirks hang out– you won’t be able to hide forever that you shower less than is typically considered “normal” or that you have a serious aversion to doing the dishes.
That’s why it’s so important during a roommate search to look for someone whose quirks you can live with, who doesn’t mind your oddities, and who you in general get along with like two peas in your own apartment pod: a roommate soul mate, if you will.
But how do you find someone with that type of compatibility? Here are a few tips:
The first step in finding your roommate soul mate is knowing your own habits and personality traits, so that you can find someone who can live with them (within reason – nobody should be expected to live with someone who’s unwilling to ever clean the toilet, for instance).
It’s always a simpler process to find compatible roommates after already having lived with another person, because you’ll know better what your own strengths and weaknesses are. But if you haven’t lived with anyone before, don’t worry. Look for someone who’s relatively tidy, responsible, and shares similar interests.
Don’t Leave it to the Last Minute
Looking for a new roommate? Start your hunt as soon as you can. When you leave a roommate search until the last minute you’re more likely to settle for someone who seems OK rather than find somebody who’s truly compatible with you.
Be Even Warier With Friends
If you have a friend or sibling who you love hanging out with, it can be tempting to move in with them rather than live with a stranger. Remember that a great friend does not always (or even often) make a great roommate.
Tread carefully, and really delve into your personalities, habits, and other compatibility issues before making a big commitment.
Meet in Person
You’ll definitely want to meet any potential roommates in person (or at least over Skype if that’s not possible). You wouldn’t agree to marry a guy after only messaging him online, would you? That’s because you can’t know if there’s in-person chemistryor compatibility just by reading a message or email.
If you’ve given yourself plenty of time for your roommate search, you may want to meet candidates in person a couple of times- invite people over for an interview, then grab coffee together a few days later. You’ll be able to see how the roommate chemistry is and learn more about his or her communication skills.
Talk About Your Interests
Sure, things like tidiness, financial habits, and lifestyles are hugely important parts of compatibility, but interests matter too. If one of you hates reality TV and the other can’t go a week without “Say Yes to the Dress” or “The X Factor,” you may find yourselves at odds.
There’s something to be said for opposites attracting, but it’s a good idea to find somebody with at least a few common interests.
Find Your Tidiness Twin
One of the most common reasons roommates fight is because they don’t have the same cleanliness habits or expectations. A dish soaking in the sink for a couple of days may not bother one person, while someone else could consider it really gross.
Look for someone who shares your views on cleanliness, whether it’s trying to keep things relatively neat in common areas or needing things to be sparkling clean at all times.
Walk a Week in His or Her Shoes
Speaking of lifestyle, you and your prospective roommate candidates should both be very upfront about yours. A great way to do this? Share a typical week in your lives.
Talk about work hours, weekday rituals, and what you’re usually up to on Fridays and Saturdays. If a candidate has an opposite schedule to yours or would rather party on Tuesday than be in bed by 10 p.m. like you, you may need to consider someone else.
Even married couples fight sometimes– it’s just part of having a relationship with another person, and it’s likely to happen more when you live with somebody.
Remember that no matter who you find, you’ll still have to flex your compromise and communication muscles. If you aren’t willing to compromise about small things, you may be better off living on your own.