Choosing a college roommate: The 6 step guide

Updated April 6, 2023

One of the joys of attending university or college away from home is meeting all kinds of new people and making new friends. One of the people you’ll get to know best is your roommate. Just by virtue of living together, you’ll learn all kinds of things about each other that others may or may not know: whether she uses an electric toothbrush or whether he prefers boxers or briefs.

Choosing a roommate, especially for your first year of university, can be stressful. All of a sudden, you’ll be required to share personal space with a complete stranger. Selecting a roommate isn’t an exact science, but you can try to eliminate some potential disasters by using these 6 handy tips:

Three college roommates moving in

  1. Know yourself

    One key to finding a roommate that will be simpatico is knowing your own likes and dislikes, as well as your quirks and habits. Assess yourself honestly; the better you know yourself, the more likely it is that a potential roommate who is not a good match will set off alarm bells in your head when you communicate.

    Ask yourself the same questions you might ask a roommate candidate, including am I an early riser or a night owl? Do I like living in an organized space or can I ignore clutter? Do I like having other people around regularly or do I prefer quiet? Do I enjoy going out on weekends or would I rather stay home and read or binge-watch TV shows?

    Be sure that your temperaments are a match before moving in together.

  2. Catalogue your habits

    Think about your habits and consider whether someone else might find some of them annoying. Do you leave hair in the shower drain, for example? Do you crack your chewing gum incessantly?

    Be aware that no one is perfect and that some things that you consider normal, a roommate might find irritating. Know your own pet peeves, as well as the things you find irritating about others. Consideration is important here; remember to treat others as you’d like to be treated.

  3. Review your expectations

    Think about what you want from a roommate personally, in addition to finding someone whose habits mesh well with your own. Are you simply looking for someone to share living expenses or do you want someone to hang with on the weekends? Do you want someone who comes from a similar background (rural vs. urban, etc.) or are you eager to expand your world?

  4. Residence versus apartment

    If you are just starting your postsecondary career, you may be required to live in a residence for a year. Don’t fret – it’s a way to meet a lot of people who are in the same boat and seeking new friends. In this case, you may also choose to let the university match you to someone and see how the pairing unfolds.

    Generally, you’ll be able to contact your roommate in advance and get to know him or her, so take the opportunity to do so. If the match really isn’t workable, there is always an opportunity to switch roommates after an initial freeze on moving. Not having to worry about splitting utility expenses and rent also takes some strain out of the relationship.

    Living off campus, whether sharing an apartment or a house, complicates the act of living together, because you have more shared financial responsibilities. Make sure you choose a roommate who is reliable so that your rent and utility bills are paid on time. The more of you involved, the more complicated it can be. Consider dividing the tasks so everyone has some responsibility.

    Finding insurance with a roommate is a subject you need to consider. Wherever you reside, you may want to consider renter’s insurance, given that you won’t be the only one with access to your personal property. Locking your room can be a deterrent, but you can’t be too careful. Remember that everyone living at the address needs his or her own insurance – you’re not actually a family, so there’s no blanket coverage available.

  5. Co-ordination

    If you are sharing a space, it’s practical to co-ordinate in advance which items and furniture you will each contribute. It’s not helpful to have two coffee makers and no couch. Make a checklist and share it in advance so you don’t bring duplicate items and can be sure you have everything you’ll need.

  6. Communication

    Relationships take work, and that goes double for roommate relationships since you’re sharing a living space. Don’t let frustrations build; learn to discuss issues in a non-confrontational manner. It’s a skill that will be useful in your other relationships, too.

Want to learn more? Visit our Renter resource centre for more tips and information about life as a renter. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.


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