Current student housing deadlines are approaching rapidly. You need to make a few decisions soon: Will you be moving off-campus? What dorm do you want to live in? And, most importantly, do you want a roommate next year?
If you do decide to find a roomie, it’s sure to be a difficult decision. Until you’ve actually lived with someone it’s impossible to predict how well you’ll get along. How are you supposed to know if someone is the loudest chewer on earth or if they like to trim nails on the living rooom sofa.
Sometimes obnoxious habits or incompatible personality traits don’t manifest until weeks or months after you’ve signed the lease. It’s only later, after you both stop walking on eggshells and trying your hardest to get along that your new roommate begins to drive you crazy.
However, the perfect living companion is out there somewhere. You just need to know how to find them.
Drop By Unexpectedly
A good long look at how she’s living now is one of the best ways to judge your potential roommate’s cleanliness and living habits. True, an unexpected visit can be an unreliable test, due to the fact that she a) has a different roommate with different habits and b) could be suffering through an unusual period of tidiness, but it’s the only way to visually see how well she cleans up after herself.
Talk with your roommate directly
Don’t sneak behind her back and gather dirt from prior roommates or mutual friends. If you have a question, ask your potential roommate directly, and do your best to honestly answer any questions she may have. While you’re at it, take some time to discuss your expectations and desires with her as well. If there is something that you know you need, such as a couple hours of quiet study time every Wednesday or the TV all day for Sunday football, tell her and see what she thinks.
Hang with the cool kids
Unfortunately, you won’t just be living with your roommate next year, you’ll also be living with all her friends and maybe even her family members. A roommate with weird or inappropriate friends that you can’t stand will make your life even more stressful. So, get to know her friends before you move in together. Invite your friends along and have fun mingling: you never know who you’ll meet. Plus, watch how you’re roommate treats her friends. That’s a great indicator of what type of person she really is.
Find some common interests
The best way to solidify a friendship and ensure that you and your roommate will get along is to find someone with whom you share at least one interest. Whether it’s working out, watching a TV show, or attending an organization, a common interest will give you something to talk about.
Share something, but not everything
While it’s important to have common interests with your roommate you also want someone with whom you won’t be spending every second of every day. Bad habits become 10 times more annoying if you can never escape the person, and you need something fresh to talk about to keep your relationship going. In other words, don’t move in with the senior project partner with whom you share every class, work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and hang out with every Friday. Jim and Pam are an exception, not the rule.
You don’t have to be friends with your roommate, but you do have to live with one another for a year, so be choosy.
Image: Jill McLane Baker / Kalamazoo Gazette