Selecting a Roommate

Selecting a Roommate

You have every right to enjoy yourself in your apartment; however, so does your roommate. Conflicts can arise over differences in lifestyle compatibility. Characteristics and traits that are amusing or tolerable on a casual basis may not be so on an everyday basis. While all roommate relationships will have conflict at one time or another, it is important to determine those areas that are most important to you and in which you are not willing to compromise.

Here are some areas that require discussion before becoming roommates:


It is best to find a roommate somewhat similar to yourself on these issues. Questions regarding overnight guests, drinking alcohol, profanity, persons of different race/nationality/religion/sexual orientation, etc., should be discussed. Will differences not only be tolerated but be respected?


One person's untidiness is another person's filth. What is your definition of clean? How often and to what level of cleanliness is expected to be performed and by whom?

Roommate as a Friend

Are you interested in a roommate only in regards to the living arrangements or do you want to have a social companion? No matter how well you get along with each other, there will be times when each of will prefer not to be in the other's company. You need to be able to recognize and discuss these times honestly.

Conflict Resolution

How each of you handles the difficult situations, disagreements, and annoyances will best determine how well you will live together. Develop a scenario of conflict and ask how each would respond to it. Ask your potential roommate how he/she has handled problems in an interpersonal relationship.

Pets, Children and Visitors

What is the expectation of quiet time and privacy? How often, if at all, will your roommate or you be bringing others in to the household? Will any of the above be left unattended or become the responsibility of the other.

Sleep Patterns and Schedules

Are you a night owl or is your motto "early to bed, early to rise"? Discussions regarding personal quiet and study times as well as school and work schedules are imperative.

Cooking and Food

If the food items and/or cooking are to be shared, you need to determine the food preferences and habits of each other. Vegetarian or meat eater? If it is to be separate, you need to set boundaries in regards to the storing and borrowing of food items as well as kitchen respect.

You as a Roommate

One of the most important areas to explore is how you see yourself as a roommate. Are you really as neat and tidy as you think you are? Be honest with yourself as to who you are, your likes and dislikes, and what you can tolerate and what you cannot.

Trust your Gut!

Roommate Compatibility and Other Pertinent Questions

These questions can be used as a discussion tool to help you explore your similarities and dissimilarities and in no way guarantees a match between you and your future roommate(s). It is imperative that roommates be able talk about any differences. In any roommate living relationship, the people and situations may change, and further discussions may need to be held periodically throughout the year.

What is your major and year? How many courses will you be taking? Are you taking courses online, and do you require quiet time to take the class? Do you work and when?

How will we split/pay the bills? What are your other financial obligations? What will we do if one of us cannot pay a bill on time as expected? Do you have renter's insurance?

Do you any allergies or medical conditions of which I need to be aware? What medications do you take? What will I need to do or whom do I contact in case of your medical emergency?

How many hours/day do you spend studying at home? At another location? Do you need silence or do you prefer music or television as background noise?
What kind of music do you like? How loud and how often will you play music? What television programs and movies do you like?

Do you smoke cigarettes? If yes, how much? Will your guests smoke when visiting?

Do you drink alcohol? If yes, how much and how often? Do you disapprove of those who drink alcohol? Will your guests drink alcohol when visiting?

Do you approve of drugs? Do you use drugs? Will your guests use drugs when visiting?

Do you like to party? Do you like to have parties? How often and how many guests?

Do you mind if roommates have visitors and overnight guests? How long is the maximum acceptable time in which guests can stay? Do you have a significant other? Do you have pets?

What is your definition of neat, messy, clean and dirty? How will we split cleaning responsibilities? Do you recycle?

What's you policy on sharing or use of the other's property? What if items/property become damaged?

When you get angry, what do you usually do? Do you talk it out, avoid the conflict, yell? 

Penn State University Housing Disclaimer 

The Pennsylvania State University makes no representation whatsoever regarding the housing or the landlords listed through this office/site. The properties listed are done so at the request of the landlords to assist students in locating possible off-campus housing opportunities. Students are responsible to inspect the property and negotiate lease terms with any landlord. The Pennsylvania State University has not inspected or investigated these listings or landlords in any way and is not endorsing any specific properties or landlords for students by this listing. The Pennsylvania State University disclaims any responsibility, among other things, for the condition of any premises, terms of any leases, treatment by any landlord, or compliance with any applicable local zoning ordinances.