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Tips for finding the right college roommate(s), even during COVID

How to meet and select off-campus roommates as a college student.

Many universities are making changes to on-campus student housing and fall schedules due to COVID-19 precautions. As adjustments are announced, you might find yourself in the position of needing to find a home off campus… and want a few folks to share the cost. So, it's time to find a college roommate or two.

We've all heard roommate horror stories, and let's be real: if finding roomies was an easy task, there wouldn’t be so many crazy reality TV shows about folks forced to live under one roof! Luckily, there are many options for college students to find their match(es). And the upsides are huge: you can make some of the best friends of your life when finding somebody to share a college living situation with.

Meeting potential roomies IRL is tough in the current climate, so we’ve compiled some pointers for navigating the process, inspired by this robust roommate guide from stress-free moving service MyMove. Using the following tips for finding a college roommate during COVID-19, you’ll get your ideal living situation sorted in no time!

Establish a roommate “oh-no-no” list

When trying to sort out who to share your home with for the whole school year, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re looking for in an ideal roommate — but it’s even more vital to have a list of “oh-no-no”s to help you avoid potential conflict. These shouldn’t be petty things; rather, think about situations that would make or break your relationship with a prospective roommate.

  • Have severe asthma that’s irritated by smoke and smoke residue? Smoking goes on the “oh-no-no” list.
  • Wake up early for your on-campus job and need absolute peace and quiet in the evenings? Late night socializing goes on the “oh-no-no” list.
  • Have a dog or cat that you’re bringing to school this year? Pet allergies go on the “oh-no-no” list.

By being up front about these non-negotiable elements of your living situation, it’ll be easier to weed out roomies that won’t be a good fit straight away.

Take the roommate search online

Now more than ever, it’s helpful to utilize online resources to find a college roommate. Here are some of the internet roommate finder services recommended by MyMove:

  • RoomieMatch:RoomieMatch is a dedicated roommate website. Just fill in the basic info, like the terms of the lease and where you’re relocating. (If your city doesn’t match the list of areas the site services, you’re out of luck.) One of the key benefits of RoomieMatch is that they use human profile reviewers to approve web users manually. Complete the signup process, and you’ll receive potential matches. Roommate behavior ratings help you determine quickly who is worth your time — and who isn’t.”
  • Diggz: “Sign up for Diggz to access profiles with deeper information than your typical roommate finder. View how people rate themselves in cleanliness, work, and sleep schedules. Check out a person’s preferred interaction and eating habits. These things can help clue you in to how your roommate situation could play out.”
  • Roommates:Roommates promises make finding roommates easier than ever. Its Perfect Match system aims to find you the right roommate using shared criteria. On this roommate finder, create your profile and shuffle through the profiles that are sent your way. Then, you can respond to any potential candidates. Even better: It’s free.”

However, you might not need to utilize one of the services above. Check out resources specific to your school, such as your campus subreddit, university-specific Facebook groups, your college alumni network, and any resources offered by your campus life — such as a digital bulletin board for fellow students.

Prepare a roomie interview

Once you’ve identified possibilities for your living situation, make sure to get some face-time in with your prospective roommate(s). Set up a video call, prepare some questions, and prepare to answer some of your own! After all, interviews to determine the right housing situation should go both ways; your maybe-roomie will certainly have concerns of their own to ensure you’re a good fit for them, too.

Here are some of the questions that MyMove suggests asking during this pre-agreement interview:

  • Do you keep your apartment clean, or do you tend to be messy?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How often do you have friends in the apartment?
  • Do you smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol?
  • What do you study?
  • Do you work? If so, what do you do?
  • What does your typical daily schedule look like?
  • How do you handle shared expenses, like the internet bill?
  • How many things are you moving with, both furniture and personal items?
  • What time do you usually go to bed?
  • What are you looking for in a roommate?

Consider signing a roommate agreement

After you find a college roommate, writing and signing a roommate agreement can help address potential issues head-on by establishing some house ground rules and situational plans of action. Here are some essential topics thatApartment Guide suggests covering in a healthy roommate agreement, which you should compose with your newly selected housemate(s):

  • The price of rent
  • Bills (What costs should each roommate expect to incur each month, and who is responsible for actual payment?)
  • Early move-out scenarios (Think timelines, deposit returns, and sublease options in the event of an early move.)
  • Pets
  • Established private time and quiet hours
  • Guests and significant others (Establishing firm expectations and rules around this issue is especially important during COVID-19!)
  • Cleaning and chore distribution
  • Food sharing (How will groceries be handled? What areas of the kitchen are communal versus private?)

Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

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