Choosing Roommates

If you are interested in living in the New York City area and cannot afford the cost of an apartment on your own, you may want to consider a shared living arrangement. The following are some potential pros and cons of having roommates:


  • Meeting new people
  • Companionship
  • Larger apartment (in most cases)
  • Less rent
  • Sharing chores
  • Sharing monthly expenses


  • Less privacy
  • More noise
  • Risk of unwanted long-term guests
  • Sharing your belongings
  • Having to divide and keep track of what? Rent? Expenses?

Picking the right roommate is very important and should not be done in a hurry. You can minimize the likelihood of problems by comparing your needs and preferences with those of a potential roommate(s).

Seeking a Roommate
As you think about with whom you would like to live, consider the following questions:

  • What are you looking for in a roommate?
  • Do you or does your potential roommate smoke? If yes, will this be a potential problem?
  • Do you and your potential roommate have similar sleeping habits?
  • How late do you like to sleep on the weekends? Weekdays?
  • How late do you stay up on the weekends? Weekdays?
  • Do you and your potential roommate have similar study habits?
  • Can you and your potential roommate handle each other’s lifestyle differences (i.e., use of alcohol, sexual orientation, etc.)?
  • Do either of you have pets?
  • How important is cleanliness to both of you?
  • Consider the amount of personal belongings you both may have. The more there is, the more opportunity there is for clutter.
  • How much time do you both spend on the phone? Will this be a potential problem?
  • How much time do you both spend in the bathroom/shower? Will this be a potential problem?

Roommate Agreement
It is highly recommended that a Roommate Agreement be completed anytime a new lease is signed or a lease is renewed. This document is designed to provide its users the opportunity to establish some guidelines related to the details of their living arrangements. Students are encouraged to be as forthright and honest with their opinions as possible and proactively discuss issues that potentially could become areas of conflict.

First, each roommate should fill out an All About Me form individually.  Then, the roommates should come together to create a Roommate Agreement.

Resolving Conflicts with Your Roommates
Before you move in, discuss with your roommates what everyone is bringing. When everyone arrives, organize a group meeting to discuss how things will work. Do not let conflicts linger. If you have a problem with one of your roommates, be sure to talk about it right away. Make sure you have a good idea of everyone’s habits (e.g., sleeping, studying, and cleanliness) before agreeing to live together. Remember it is a good idea to split the utility bills between the house members. This way, one person is not responsible for all of the bills. Make sure you communicate with your roommates about what you owe. You do not want your phone disconnected because someone forgot to pay a bill.

Talk with your roommates about how you will divide up the house cleaning and set standards. It is important that everyone knows exactly what is expected of him or her in keeping the space clean.

Personality and lifestyle conflicts are common problems. The best way to deal with these is to negotiate, one-on-one, with your roommate. Identify the problems, their causes, and what each roommate can do to solve them. Put any agreement you reach in writing and post it in a prominent place, such as on the refrigerator.

Adapted from Syracuse University, NYU, and George Washington.