Your roommate doesn’t need to be your best friend, but when the two of you are friendly, life is a whole lot better. With a few horror stories in my past (I had a college roommate who ate all the Nutella I ever bought), I learned to recognize the red flags when I meet roommate candidates. To find my current roommate, I put her through this comprehensive test, and we haven’t killed each other yet.
1. Assess his or her lifestyle.
Routines dictate how and when both of you will use the space you share, so aim for similarities. Ask your potential roomie about his or her job, bedtime, cleaning schedule, and hobbies. Does he or she play the tuba? Hopefully not at 2:00am.
2. Be upfront about potential deal breakers.
Is your roommate okay with pets? What about overnight guests? (My rule is that if someone stays over more than three nights a week, he or she has to start paying rent.) Like any good couples therapist will tell you, be upfront about deal breakers because they will cause major screaming matches later.
My roommate and I both made a list and then traded. If you put it in writing, then you won’t have to explain why you’d prefer it if your roommate’s boyfriend didn’t sleep over every night of the week.
UPDATE: I saw a cockroach. I didn’t move out.
3. Socialize with each other before moving in together.
Get together over martinis or burritos. Have a long conversation with your potential roommate. You might never have to interact with him or her for an extended time period again, but now you have a sense of whether his or her mere presence would send you scurrying into another room.
Over sangria, my roommate and I found a few things we had in common: a “Spring Breakers” obsession and a mutual love for Orlando Bloom. This is called bonding. Bonding is good.
This is us bonding. Really, we like each other.
Most importantly, decide whether or not you would feel comfortable frequently asking this person annoying and important logistical questions. If he or she is too intimidatingly cool or unnervingly creepy, then you won’t want to text him or her about picking up light bulbs or working out the bathroom cleaning schedule.
4. Do a little bit of stalking.
Like it or not, this the 21st century of roommate hunting. While you should remember you’ll be living with the real life person and not the online version of this person (hence why I only recommend doing this AFTER your initial meeting), extra information helps tip the scale if you’re on the fence about someone. You never know — you might find out your potential roomie is an ex-con or dates your ex-boyfriend.