There’s nothing more personal than your living space. So it’s essential that you get as much information as possible about someone before you decide to share a home with them.
But getting to know a new roommate before moving in together isn’t easy. You want to get as much intel as possible, but you don’t want to come off as too nosy to someone you might be sharing an apartment with.
Below are a few tips for how to screen potential new roommates without adding tension to the potential future relationship.
Slip Important Personal Questions In
Direct personal questions are the best way to get information from a potential roommate. But the trick is to make sure you ask them in a way that isn’t obvious or intrusive. This can get you the information without appearing to be adversarial.
For example, the answer to a classic roommate-intel question like, “Do you smoke?” can be obtained by bringing up a story (real or imagined) of a friend who smoked. This should get the potential roommate to talk about the subject and reveal the information you are looking for.
If you take some time to brainstorm, you can come up with this kind of “storytelling” strategy for many of the most important things you want to know.
Consider Mundane Tasks
Although you aren’t going to be in a relationship with a potential roommate, you are going to be living in close proximity to one another. When it comes to questions of a non-personal nature, it’s often best to just ask directly.
Questions about how they plan to handle splitting chores or whether they like to live in a neat or messy space are fair game. This might seem uncomfortable, but it’s always better to uncover any issues before you are living together.
Look for Red Flags
You won’t be able to know what your living situation with a potential roommate will look like until you move in together. However, there are some behaviors that foreshadow future problems down the road.
For example, if a potential roommate shows up to your first meeting looking disheveled or unkempt, this might be a sign that they’ll be similarly untidy in their living space. Or, if you offer to meet someone on their lunch break from work and they dodge the question, it’s a potential sign that they don’t have a steady job.
Of course, these behaviors are not surefire signs that you should automatically dismiss someone. If you feel that you have found something to make you suspicious, it’s often best to run a background check on the person as a means of confirming or putting to rest any doubts you may have.
Finally, the best way to figure out how someone will behave as a roommate is to talk to someone who has already lived with them. You should always ask for references. If the person is unable/unwilling to provide them – or the references they do provide reveal information you don’t like – then it’s a clear sign to break off the arrangement.