Roommates are a quintessential part of the university experience. Love or hate them, sharing bunks or sleeping in separate rooms — your roommate is someone who will come to define what university means to you.
Finding the right uni roommate isn't just about making new friends, finding someone to watch your houseplants while you're away and avoiding the smell of leftover pizza. It's about developing a home you feel comfortable, safe and able to learn in.
Doing that requires setting personal guidelines (or dealbreakers) for what you want and don't want in a roommate. Let's take a look at how you can draw up yours for the next time you're browsing Roomsurf, Roomies, or posting wanted ads on your Instagram.
Think about the lifestyle you want
Roommates aren't just people you live with, they're part of your lifestyle.
Landing on dealbreakers that both suit your preferences and won't make you seem like too much of a stick in the mud is difficult. However, you should have a reasonable idea of how you want to live.
Not every university apartment is clean (if we're honest, the majority aren't). Can you put up with that mess? What about parties? What if your potential roommate is the host of the foreign cinema club? Sounds fun, until you're being kept up on a Wednesday night before an exam by a crowd of enthusiastic French film fans.
Everyone wants to have fun while they study. But in the home, it's about keeping things within personal reason. Imagine if a party gets out of hand and you're suddenly landed with a huge bill by your landlord? Tenant insurance services from companies such as Duuo might make it easier to cover the cost, but you shouldn't be building your lifestyle around cleaning up over a slovenly or reckless roommate.
Consider your location
They say location is everything when it comes to property, and the same can be said for your university digs.
Living far off campus can make it difficult to get into the library to study every day. That means you'll be spending a lot of time at home, working on projects and preparing for tests. If you've got a roommate who's also home a lot, this can start to cause privacy issues.
What's more important is how location affects your schedules. If they've got a part-time job they need to be up for at 6 AM or get back from the bar in the dead of night, how does that affect your sleeping schedule or ability to bond?
Ask your friends
Friends are a brilliant source of advice throughout your university years. They're going through the same experiences and challenges as you and might even have some personal insight to share about everything from study tips to finding the perfect roommate.
Consider asking them about their dealbreakers. Are they happy with their roommates? What questions and queries did they have when searching for someone to spend the year with?
Rather than a list to copy word for word, your friend's dealbreakers should serve as inspiration for your own guidelines. You might not have the same aversion to heavy metal music as your friend, but it might make you think twice about rooming with a guitarist.
Common roommate dealbreakers
To close off, let's look at some common roommate dealbreakers you might want to consider. We've touched on a few of these already, but it's worth listing them for clarity:
- Cleanliness (dirty dishes and grimy bathrooms can irritate even the laziest student)
- How often guests come over
- Noise levels
- Relationships and having partners over
- Excessive possessions (do you really want a gym bench in the living room?)
- Decor preferences (you don't want to ruin the limited decoration you can do in your uni apartment)
These questions from RENTCafé are a useful starting point when speaking to potential roommates. It's important to strike the balance when interviewing people. Don't interrogate them, but make sure you're getting a clear picture.
Dealbreakers might sound harsh, but they're an important part of the process of finding a roommate.
You should always leave some room for maneuverability, say if you find someone who ticks 9/10 boxes, but don't be too lax. Remember to ask lots of questions and use official platforms to find a roommate who will make (not break) your university experience.
Find Canadian roommates on Roomies.ca