When finding a home to rent, with all the amenities that help you create an oasis for yourself, finding the perfect roommate often turns out to be the toughest task of them all. Shared living in and itself comes with its own set of challenges, often unanticipated, even if it’s your fourth or fifth time renting.
Like every other relationship ever, it’s only obvious that deciding what we’re looking for in a roommate would be a learned-over-time kind of deal.
It’s all about trial and error, y’know?
The top 10 attributes people look for in a roommate, based on a survey conducted in 2019 with over 6000 people, are:
- Non-Smoker (Related: Help My Roommate Smokes and I Don’t)
- Similar interests
- Love for animals
Other close contenders to this list were gender, having furniture, an inclination towards cooking, similar dietary habits and tastes in music.
Related: 5 Real Roommate Problems And How to Resolve Them
While these are the most common attributes people generally seek, finding your “perfect” roommate might take a little more effort on your part than initially anticipated.
So here’s a walk-through on picking a (soul) roommate that might just come close to perfect.
Disclaimer: In a shared living situation, these qualities are equally applicable to yourself, the reader, too. This ecosystem exits on a very delicate line of stretched out thread and you’re holding one end taut just like your roommate with the other end, capice?
UNDERSTANDING YOUR NEEDS FIRST
We often carry with us the habits we form in our previous living situations to the new setting. The thing is, these habits might not always click with your new roommate. What might be a random bit you like indulging in, might just be a deal-breaker for the roommate you seek.
We advise creating an actual list of things you want from your roommate. Make this as personal as you can. If luck’s on your side, your roommate and you might just have multiple similar interests and needs. If that’s not the case, we recommend communicating your likes/dislikes clearly and being equally willing to accommodate their likes/dislikes too.
FLEXIBILITY THAT GOES BEYOND YOGA
Flexibility in shared living can be a little more complicated than fixing a yoga routine together. What you seek is bound to conflict with what your roommate(s) want at some point or the other. From a simple furniture addition to more serious issues like smoking and fights with their better-halves you wish you didn’t witness – especially the night before an important exam.
We recommend getting this out of the way first. The best solution to creating certain boundaries is to get creative with it. Get together and create a fun roommate contract! A piece of paper where each party notes down their deal breakers, boundaries and compromise points. Make this a sacred document, one that might also serve as a great centerpiece on your living room wall!
TABLE FOR TWO
A known trick to getting to know someone and see if you are a good match is to share a meal, in a public setting, with maybe a drink and a half. How people act in restaurants can be very insightful and often tell you things you might have otherwise failed to catch. Be on the lookout for those that seem too “good to be true” – chances are they probably are.
Inviting them to a casual hang/party with your mates might also be a good bet, if the person’s already moved in. Your friends might help you understand them better while also giving them a chance to understand you and your circle. Managing expectations? Check ✅
THE GREAT RULE OF GOOD ENOUGH
Any relationship is bound to experience conflict. In a situation where disagreements arise between you and your roommate, it is important to know how your roommate responds to stress. This enables you to successfully resolve a conflict without any unnecessary damage.
Instead of fighting over what you want vs what they want, try and find a middle-ground which is, yep you guessed it, good enough for both you and your roommate. All you need to have is an attitude that is willing to compromise. Be respectful if that’s what you’re hoping to get in return.
One of the main challenges of shared living is setting boundaries. How do you make sure you’re respecting the other person’s personal space and boundaries and vice-versa?
If it’s a material thing that you need and your roommate has it, it’s always best to ask. There’s nothing worse than accidentally breaking something of your roommate’s that you didn’t ask to use in the first place.
If it’s personal space that you think might become an issue, since the space you share with the other person is quite tight, be a little more open about what you are feeling and encourage them to do the same. A good trick is to run over your day with them in casual conversation so they know what you’ll be up to and leave you alone when you need it.
That’s all folks! Give yourself enough time to get used to a new person, practise compassion and let them be when they need it.