How to Avoid a Secretly Terrible Roommate

It's happened to thousands of innocent people across the country. You're grabbing a beer with an awesome potential roommate, and sharing some laughs. You can't wait to move in together with your soon-to-be BEST. FRIEND. EVER. Soon enough, you find out he's violently lactose intolerant, someone ate all your frozen cheese burritos, and he's yelling that he "didn't take them" through the bathroom door while abusing your shared toilet. The following tips will help you discover red flags so you can avoid your year-long sentence with the Burrito Bandit #bestcellmateseverrr

  1. Look for someone in your network If you find a friend to live with, you essentially know what you’re dealing with as far as personality traits go. When deciding who you’ll be living with, the more surprises you can avoid, the better. Living with a “friend of a friend” is also a great option. Your mutual friend can vouch for the potential roommate so you know they’re not insane, inconsiderate, or just generally awful. If someone is within your social network, you most likely share a similar background and values. This will allow you to discuss misunderstandings and get on the same page rather quickly. If a disagreement is caused by a difference in core values, on the other hand, it will be much more difficult to reconcile. Think: “Oh wow, you’re actually just an a******.” This is why Circle for Roommates shows you your options within your network first.

  2. Look at how they choose to represent themselves Check out their profile pictures on Circle for Roommates or Facebook. You can learn a lot about someone’s personality, values, and interests this way, and it can also help you identify red flags you wouldn’t be able to uncover from a Craigslist post or one-time meeting. A written self-description on Craigslist just can't tell you what 5 shirtless mirror selfies can.

  1. Ask what they fought about with their previous roommates If they blame their roommate, but what their roommate did doesn’t seem so bad, it means that A) your roommate is high strung and will have you walking on eggshells, or B) your roommate is not giving you the real reason for the fight because it was actually their fault. Let’s be real, he’s not going to say “I would just never take out the trash even after I promised I would time and time again!” This question is also a good opportunity to find out if he or she gets worked up over minuscule issues. If he fought with his last roommate because he put a can of Pringles on the “protein shelf,” you may want to stay away. Also, this guy is probably dealing with a receding hairline and some other awkward hormonal issues.

  2. Ask about their household maintenance routine If they don’t have one, they’re probably disorganized and don’t concern themselves with keeping the apartment clean. You’ll never get an honest answer by asking if someone is clean, or how clean they are, so this question is much more useful. Our research at UCLA has shown that 90% of roommate conflicts are related to a difference in cleanliness preferences, so this is an important topic to sniff out (excuse the pun).

  3. Ask them about their romantic habits They may say they have a girlfriend/boyfriend, in which case, you need to ask how much time they would spend at your apartment. You don’t want them taking over the common room every night and weekend. It’s not that common for people to run home from work every day cause they can’t wait to report for duty as the third wheel. This could cause you to spend all your time in your room, feeling claustrophobic and isolated. Conversely, they may brag about being able to pick someone up at the bar 5 nights/week. If you’re not into 2AM door-slamming and glass-breaking, this roommate may not be for you. Besides, it sounds like they could survive as a full-time paratrooper and save themselves some rent. Win-win.

  4. Download Circle for Roommates (here) - It's like Tinder for finding a roommate, and was built to help you follow each of these steps easily Circle for Roommates is a new app that shows you all of your friends who are looking for a roommate in your city. It then let's you browse through the profile pictures your potential roommates selected, and chat with them within the app to ask the important questions discussed above. Get it now!