By Marilyn La Jeunesse

Published on March 14, 2016

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Photography by NINA CHOI

When it comes to finding a new roommate, you never really know what you’re going to get until you’re actually living together. In order to make sure your living environment remains a happy and healthy one, it’s important to ask certain questions before moving in with someone new. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best questions to ask a potential roommate before signing that lease.

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How often do you expect to clean?

If the roommate only expects to clean once a month (meanwhile you do it once a week) there could be some potential tension. In order to alleviate any future conflict, create a cleaning schedule that suits both of your needs and preferences. 

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What items do you want to be communal, and how should we purchase them?

Venmo, check, cash, taking turns? It’s important to clarify how you both will pay for communal items like toilet paper and paper towels. It’s also helpful to define what items are communal, ahead of time. While you’re at it, assert your feelings on the use of your personal belongings, clothes, and food. 

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What kind of cable TV do you subscribe to or can’t live without?

Some people can live without a TV, while others can’t go a day without watching their favorite HBO show. In order to avoid fighting over an unwanted cable bill, be upfront with your roommate on your preferences. If you have a communal TV but rarely watch it, you should discuss how you will split the TV bill.

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What speed Internet do you expect to have in your apartment?

If you’re both watching Netflix all the time, or you plan to work from home, high-speed Internet is a must — unfortunately, that means it’s more expensive. If the two of you can’t agree on the speed of the Internet (or either of you resist splitting the bill evenly) it’s a sign that there is peril ahead.

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Do you have any allergies, and how severe are they?

If one of you is deathly allergic to peanuts, it’s important to know right away. You don’t want to be keeping jars of peanuts and peanut butter around your house with the potential of contaminating your roommate’s living area. 

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How frequently do you plan on having guests over?

Uninvited and unexpected guests can be a pain. While it’s common courtesy to let your roommate know before you have someone over, some have a hard time adhering to this standard. If you don’t want your roommate bringing home their friends (and complete strangers!) all the time, make sure to create a specific guest policy for your apartment. It might seem harsh, but you both need to be happy and feel safe in your own home.

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How often do you take out the trash? Do you recycle?

If they only take out the trash when it’s overflowing, you’ll have to deal with a smelly apartment for quite a few days. Also, if recycling is important to you, make sure your roomie is on board as well! 

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Are you always out and about, or do you like to hang out at home?

This question is all about personal preference. If you’d rather have a roommate who is never home, you probably shouldn’t move in with someone who’s constantly in the apartment, binge-watching the latest episode of House of Cards. This is also a good way to find out whether or not your potential roomie will be working from home — that’s a major consideration!

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What is your preferred noise level in the apartment?

If your roommate is the kind of person who can’t listen to the TV without it on full blast, or loves to talk on the phone at odd hours at the top of their lungs, perhaps you should reconsider living with that person — or make sure to tell them up front that you prefer to keep things quiet. 

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What’s your daily schedule like?

Conflicting schedules can mean a hazardous living environment when it comes to noise levels and bathroom schedules. Plan ahead by making sure you both don’t need the shower at 7AM, and that the noise levels in the morning and night are kept at a minimum.

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What furniture or appliances do you already own?

Plan ahead with your roommate to make sure you’re not contributing the same item or piece of furniture to the apartment. 

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Are you dating anyone? Would I be able to meet them beforehand?

How often do you plan on having them over? This three-part question is going to mean the difference between a two-person apartment and a three-person apartment. If you don’t like your roomie’s significant other, or the person is constantly in your apartment, things can get difficult. 

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What temperature do you like to keep the apartment?

If you’re always hot and love to live in a pseudo-igloo, this just might be the most important question you’ll ever ask a future roommate. Trust us.

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Do you have any pets?

It’s important to know whether or not you’ll be sharing your home with a few animals – or not. If you can’t take the fur, potty messes, or have allergies, you might want to turn down your potential roommate.

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Remember, in the end, it’s going to be much better for you to be direct with your future roommate from the start. You should be comfortable with all (or most!) of their answers to your questions. If not, take action immediately — draw up a roommate contract that outlines the terms, conditions, and compromises you’ve agreed to make, or even rescind or reject an offer to move in with them. It’s better to find a roommate you can live with than spend a year in roommate hell.