Living with a Roommate

Due to the high cost involved in renting apartments in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, many American students choose to live with a roommate to save on living expenses. Living with a roommate can be a wonderful experience, or an unpleasant one, depending on a variety of factors. However, with clear expectations and frequent communication, you can avoid most problems that roommates face.

Things to Discuss with Prospective Roommates


  • Do you smoke? If not, how do you feel about living with someone who smokes?
  • What degree of neatness and cleanliness is important to you?
  • Do you have a special diet or other special health requirements?
  • How much time do you spend at home?


  • Do you prefer to study at home? If so, when are you most likely to study?
  • Are music/TV OK? If so, what kind of music, how often, and how loud? What noise level can you tolerate?
  • How often do you want to have friends visit?
  • How do you feel about overnight guests? How many nights should they stay?
  • Should frequent guests who eat at your home share the food costs?
  • How much privacy do you need?

Are you willing to share personal items-supplies, stereo, clothing? Do you expect to be asked for permission to use them?

(adapted from the Student Housing Office, University of California, Davis:


  • Will you cook together or buy groceries and prepare meals independently?
  • How will housekeeping responsibilities be divided? Divide the chores 50/50? Take turns?
  • How will rent, utilities, groceries, and supplies be divided? Can you depend on each other to pay bills on time?
  • How will you solve problems?