Roommate photos up on a dorm room wall
July 23, 2019
3 mins read

5 questions to ask your roommate before move-in

The UBC Life Residence Guide

Starting university is all about new experiences. For many of you, that might include living with a roommate for the very first time!

Shared living can be fun and cool, but it can also be complicated. Your assigned roommate might be a perfect match, but it’s more likely that you’re going to be splitting your space with someone whose habits, values, and routines don’t entirely match up with what you’re used to.

The best way to keep from clashing? Communication!

If you talk about possible conflicts ahead of time, you’re less likely to have a problem later (or end up with 2 area rugs, 2 Playstations, and 2 of that Japanese wave poster that everyone has for some reason).

Luckily, once you receive your specific room assignment in mid-August, you’ll be able to contact your roommate online.

Here are 5 conversations you should be having with your new roommate (ideally, before you move in):

1. Who’s bringing what?

Residence rooms are small. You can save space by figuring out what can be shared. Do you both want a mini-fridge? A rug? A bean bag chair, shoe rack, or full-length mirror? Talk about how you’d like to furnish your space and save money in the process.

You could even try to coordinate your bed linens or wall hangings, or at least avoid clashing colours. My roommate and I did this in first year and it made our room feel extra homey!

2. When do you sleep and wake up?

Are you in bed by 9:00 pm, or do you prefer to stay up all night watching Vine compilations? Sleep 'til noon, or up and running the Wreck Beach stairs by 5:30 am? Or are you somewhere in between?

Figure out what kind of sleeper your roommate is and lay down some guidelines for how to keep from disturbing each other. Maybe even take some precautions ahead of time, like getting good quality headphones, a book light, or a sleep mask.

3. What are your interests?

It’s always a nice bonus to become friends with your roommate, although you certainly don’t have to be. Either way, it helps to know a little bit about them.

Finding out more about what kind of person they are starts things off on a friendly note and helps foster respect. Besides, you might even have something in common! Maybe you’ll end up with a buddy for that Zumba class you were interested in, or someone to go check out the next T-birds game with. The possibilities are endless!

4. What’s your personal definition of “clean”?

Speaking as someone who has had her fair share of roommates, I can attest to the fact that nobody can agree on an answer to this question.

Some people completely freak if the dishes aren’t done, but don’t do their laundry for months. Others vacuum every single day but keep their clothes in a pile on the (super clean) floor. Figure out what needs to be cleaned, when it needs to be done, and how you’re going to make sure it stays that way. DO IT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

Female student tying her shoelaces as she leans on her dorm room bed

5. How do you feel about other people in our room?

First year is all about meeting new people and making friends. Maybe you want to hang out with your new crew all the time, talking and laughing ‘til 3:00 am—but you should definitely check with your roommate first.

Find out how your roomie feels about having guests over (that includes significant others!) and when that might be okay. Maybe they need to sleep, or maybe they need to study, or maybe they just aren’t the social type. Whatever the reason, remember that your shared room is shared and that respecting your roommate’s space is key to keeping the peace.

Sharing a room is just another one of the many fun challenges that comes along with the transition to first year. If you’re open, friendly, respectful, and communicative, you’re sure to have a successful roommate relationship!