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Important Questions to Ask a Potential Roommate

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Getting a roommate can be a great way to cut expenses when you are moving into your first apartment. However, the money you save on rent may not balance out the aggravation and stress you'll suffer from if you choose the wrong one. It requires a great deal of compatibility to equal a successful, harmonious co-habitation, and the more you find out about your possible living partner before they sign the lease, the better. Knowing what you want out of a roommate and what questions to ask before deciding to move in together will increase your chances of an amicable household. Read on for a list of some of the most important things to inquire about when interviewing any potential roommate candidates:

Do you smoke?

This is among the most common of roomie concerns. The rivalry between smokers and non-smokers can get pretty vicious--smokers hold onto their right to enjoy a cigarette conveniently in their own home, and non-smokers often despise just a hint of the odor in their place. You may be able to work out a compromise if the smoker agrees to restrict his or her habit to outdoor areas only--but in cold or rainy weather, it may become an issue again.

Why are you moving?

This will give you a bit of insight into your potential roommate's expectations for his living situation, such as a desire for more space or privacy. It will also tell you a little about his relationship with former roommates, if there was conflict, and what caused it. If they tell you they moved out of their former apartment because their old roommate hated their late-night parties, you will have a heads up about what kind of lifestyle they are accustomed to or desires, and whether it is compatible with yours.

What is a typical day like for you?

Depending upon what you are seeking in a roommate, being aware of when they will be home could be a matter of concern for you. You might want to know what kind of schedule they have, when they go to work, and what times they go to sleep and wake up in the morning. You may find it ideal to acquire a roommate that works nights if you work days if you are looking for optimum solitude. If you don't enjoy being alone, you may prefer to find someone that will be home when you are.

Do you have a job?

It may not even occur to you to ask this question, but it is a crucial one. You may think it goes without saying that anyone inquiring about sharing your apartment with you would have a job and the means to pay rent, but never assume anything. Ask about their job and pay–it may seem a bit personal, but you want to rest assured that they will be fully capable of paying their rent on time and in its entirety each month. When deciding to rent an apartment to a tenant, many landlords request a pay stub--you might opt to do the same.

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Often a roommate with a significant other comes as a two-for-one deal. If you have qualms about a free-loading partner hanging around your place, eating your food and staying over every night, you may want to ask this question and then establish some ground rules for boyfriend/girlfriend visits.

What furniture or appliances do you have?

Finding out what they will be bringing with them and their willingness to share use of the items can be a benefit to you.

How important is cleanliness to you?

Compatibility concerning chores and cleanliness is imperative. If you are very strict about neatness and order in your home, having a sloppy roommate that never pitches in or constantly leaves clutter in his wake will only drive you crazy.

Have you had other roommates before?

Find out about their past living situations and former roommates. This will help you determine what kind of roommate they are and tell you a bit about what lifestyle they are accustomed to. You can even ask for references from old roommates to find out more about their timeliness with rent payments, neatness and cleaning habits, and if they got along well with others in the household.

What kind of noise level are you comfortable with?

If you hate loud music and parties, you'll want to make sure your roommate is on the same page. Contrastingly, if you are the noisy one, you may want to find a roommate that shares your habits. While it is not necessary that you and your roomie become the best of pals, you want to share some level of similarity so there is not constant personality clashes.

Do you have any pets?

Make sure if they have a pet, it's one that you won't mind inheriting. If you have pets, be sure to inform them and find out what their opinions are about living with animals. Ask about allergies, fears, or other aversions to animals.

How long are you planning to stay?

You may only be looking for a roommate for a short period of time, or perhaps you'd prefer one with long-term intentions. Either way, getting an estimate of the length of time they want to live with you will help you decide if they are what you are looking for.

Are you comfortable signing the lease?

This is possibly the most important question to ask. Be wary of anyone that says "no." If they are not on the lease, they can move out at any time without notice and not be obligated to pay you another cent for rent. If you don't want to be left in the lurch, make sure they are willing to be included on the lease to protect yourself.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on June 13, 2013

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