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5 Questions to Ask a Potential Roommate

People often underestimate the importance of the roommate relationship, but few people in your life have the power to affect your day-to-day like your roommate. When all is going well, your roommate(s) can help you unwind from the stress of the day and make your apartment into a welcoming home. But when you’re not a good match, you can find yourself sneaking around and avoiding your roommate like a bad date. Take it from us – this is a match you want to get right.

At Symbi, we’re all about roommates: our service matches roommates together based on compatibility. And we’ve done extensive customer research to understand what makes a roommate relationship flourish or go south. We find that when potential roommates do finally connect, whether virtually or in person, they often don’t know what to ask each other! So here are some questions to be sure to ask when searching for the perfect (room)mate.

Don’t be shy – asking these questions up-front can save you both time and effort down the road, and any roommate worth their salt will appreciate that!


1. All-inclusive budget
You may be convinced to change up your neighborhood, but it’s unlikely you can increase your budget out of thin air (and if you can – please let us in on your secrets, oh magician!). And yet we find most people are too afraid to discuss budget until late in the apartment-hunting process. Ask upfront! It’s well worth the initial awkwardness. Phrase your question clearly and honestly: “I’m hoping to spend around $1300/month, but the number I really can’t go above is $1500. What is your expected spend and maximum?” When you talk about budget, be sure to distinguish between monthly rent and other expenses like utilities, a cleaner if they hire one, etc. These extra expenses can add up to hundreds of dollars a month so be sure to get on the same page when it comes to discussing the monies.

guest policy

2. Guest policy
One of the quickest killers of a roommate relationship is the significant other factor. If one roommate is in a serious relationship, this can mean they will be spending a fair amount of time away from the apartment. While that can be great for some (Bathroom all to myself? Yes please!), many people find it lonely when their would-be friend goes AWOL as soon as the lease begins. An even worse (and all-too-common) scenario? Your roommate’s boyfriend unofficially moves in. We also hear about this problem with family or friends from out of town staying over for long periods of time. Asking your potential roomie ahead of time how often they plan to have visitors can set expectations right from the start, and help you come up with a guest policy that works for both of you.

roommate pets

3. Pets
Need we say more? If either of you comes with a furry friend (or plans to acquire one in the next year), make this clear from the get-go and figure out if that works for you. Pets are a close second to significant others when it comes to sources of roommate issues!


4. Work location
Where is your potential roommate commuting to? What subway(s) do they need to be close to? Cutting down your commute time is one of the only ways to gain back time in your day. Figure out which neighborhoods have good access to subway lines that work for both of you. If none do, it may be time to move onto the next one.

roommate friends

5. What do they want out of the roommate relationship?
Would you like to be friends with your roommate, or are you just there to cohabitate a space in peace? Like in romantic relationships, when people become roommates, there’s often a spectrum in what they’re looking to get out of the relationship. Have an honest conversation with your potential roomie. Anything from personality type, to work hours, to how long you’ve lived in the city can influence what you’re looking for, and if you’re aligned on this, you’ll not only weed out incompatible matches – you’ll be better set up for the future with the ones that are likely to work out. #roommatebesties


Feeling shy about asking some of these questions? When you use Symbi, you don’t have to. We give you all the information that’s vital to know about a potential roommate up-front. All our users are verified, so you can avoid scammers and spammers. Our compatibility algorithm finds you personalized roommate fits, so you can focus your efforts on people where it’s likely to work out. Plus it’s free to use! Happy roommating.


The Symbi Team


This post was authored by Simone Berkower, Co-Founder & CEO of Symbi.