Choosing a roommate can result in bliss at home, or a nightmare that never ends until move-out day. If you’ve decided to help your budget by lettings someone move into your apartment, here are some discussion points for a revealing conversation. Ignore answers which make you flinch at your own peril.

  1. Got a pet?
    You may love the idea of having a dog or cat in su casa . . . but if you didn’t pay a pet deposit, you will now be liable for the deposit, applicable fines, any damage the pet causes (replacing carpet can be wicked expensive) and handling complaints from other residents. People are also generally much cooler about their own pet’s flaws . . . “he scratches a little” might really mean “Expect your leather sofa to be shredded by Tuesday.
  2. Tell me about your love life.
    We’re not advising you make a pass at the person you’re interviewing, or inquire about their sexual preferences. But if he or she is thinking that their Boo will be sleeping over five nights a week (and then hanging out in a bathrobe in your kitchen every morning), you need to know it . . . and charge rent according to reality. You might also decide on what you can deal with (and what you can’t) before you ask this question. Topics that can impact your happiness with a roomie (and their lover) include noise, hours, language, cleanliness, food, pets, bathrooms and politics.
  3. What time do you get up, and when do you hit the sack?
    Sure, you probably like to play videos all night as much as the next guy . . . unless you don’t. This is a good question to ask over the phone, before you bother to meet in person.
  4. Let’s talk about the kitchen: what do you typically do in there?
    You’re talking to a budding chef who loves to shop, loves to cook for two, loves to clean up afterward and always cleans the kitchen once a week. Oh wait, that was a dream you had. You still need to ask your roomie applicant about eating habits, shopping habits, cooking habits, cleaning and how you’re going to share the refrigerator.
  5. What are your viewing obsessions?
    Are you talking to a Game of Thrones junkie or a fan of telenovelas? Does this person own a decent headset? Will he or she be quietly gaming the night away behind a closed door . . . or taking down the enemy at full decibels in the living room each night? Might you be watching the same great shows? Who has Netflix® and who has what version of Xbox®?
  6. What do you like to do?
    If you’re hoping for “I play beer pong” but get “I do political fundraising and also study the mating habits of Ecuadorean beetles” then you might need to keep on looking.
  7. How often should we clean the bathroom?
    Many a nice relationship has been wrecked over pubic hair stuck to the toilet. We’re just sayin’ . . .
  8. How do you feel about friends hanging out here for a few days?
    Could mean your people, could mean theirs. Just get on the same page. And if you can’t abide extra bodies in your crib, then you might as well turn the question into a briefing on your house rules, and get the reaction. Do bear in mind that it’s much more copacetic for you and roomie to be living by the same rules. No one wants to share a rental with a dictator.
  9. What happens if you have a funding emergency?
    If mom or dad are not going to bail out your new friend in a crisis situation, you might want to know it. S**t happens, and when it does, you’ll be the one stuck paying the full rent. Hearing that there’s a steady job eases the scare factor.
  10. Got addictions?
    You won’t necessarily get a true answer to this one . . . but you at least need to try. Once the questions have been asked, don’t leave out the all-important last step: ask how long the person has been in your city, get a full legal name, and tell them you’ll get back to them.  Then don’t make your final decision until you do some serious research on social media and search engines. You might find pics or records that tell a different story than you one you just heard . . . or you might find that you have even more in common than you hoped.  Don’t forget about cigarettes, although the aroma of your new acquaintance will likely give you the truth on that one.  If smoking is an absolute no-no, then considering someone who reeks of smoke (even “someone else’s smoke”) is dangerous.Good luck!
  11. What about allergies? 
    If you’re a peanut butter addict and the person you’re talking to can’t be within a mile of a peanut, you have to be realistic about how that will impact your life.
  12. Got a match?
    Your nose will probably tell you if a person smokes, but you may also want to be sure you’re on the same page about weed. That goes for a roommate’s friends or lovers, too. Talk it out up front.