Although fall is sometimes seen as a subtle start to the end of the year, it is also considered an exciting and life-altering phase of new beginnings for many people, especially students. Living on your own gives you a sense of responsibility and maturity, even if you are living with roommates for the first time.

Most people starting a new life in college can’t afford to rent an apartment or house of their own. Instead, they have to find a roommate or two that can split, at the very least, the financial responsibility of being a renter.

But finding that perfect roommate can be a challenge, especially if you have to find a stranger to live with. How are you supposed to live amicably with someone you barely know? Here are some tips that may help to take some stress away from the roommate experience so that you can live peacefully and happily while you navigate the overwhelming waters of post-secondary education.

Screen Carefully

Whether you are looking for a roommate to share your space, or you’re seeking someone who has a space available for you, make sure that you learn enough about the person to make a decision.

Find out if they are tidy, if they have the same interests as you, and if there is a guarantee of stable income during your shared tenancy.

If you don’t feel that you and another person would be a good fit, it’s probably best that you avoid living with them. It’s better to find the right roommate before orientation than to live unhappily for the next year.

Have Something in Common

If one of you likes to party, and the other doesn’t, expect some conflict. If you are both quiet people who prefer to play video games or read a book, chances are you will avoid some tension.

Living with someone who is the complete opposite of you can be fun for a time, but when you need to focus on studying or getting some sleep after a long day, you’re not going to think that loud music and hollering people are all that amusing.

Try to choose someone who has some base interests in common with you. It’ll save you a lot of stress, and a lots of sleepless nights in the meantime.

Avoid These 5 Types of Roommates

1) The Mooch

Someone who eats your food, uses your shampoo, and always borrows cash will become a problem sooner rather than later. You’re on a budget too, and you should only have to worry about supporting yourself.

Try to make sure that your roommate is either consistently employed or, if they are a student, that they are good at budgeting their money so you don’t have to cover their bills.

2) Your Schedule Twin

It’s usually better to have at least a lightly different schedule than your roomie. Why? Because if you’re both at the apartment at the same times you’re going to fight over who showers first, who gets to use the kitchen first, who has dibs on the remote, and everything else. Basically, you’ll be in each other’s hair way too much and it’ll wear on both of you.

Avoid daily bickering and look for someone who has a different work or school schedule than you. Especially if you are sharing a small living space with little privacy or personal areas.

3) The One With Commitment Issues

If your potential roomie cringes when considering signing a long-term lease, you may want to rethink if you really want to be fully responsible for paying the full rent, finding a new roommate, and dealing with any and all damage when you move out.

Make sure that you pick someone who won’t leave you hanging halfway through your agreement.

4) Your Exact Opposite

It’s great to have differences with your roommate, because it means that you can always learn something from them. But if you both have different beliefs about important things, you may end up experiencing a lot of friction. As long as you are both laid back, varied personalities can be a great thing, but make sure that you aren’t going to end up offending your new housemate at every turn, or they you.

5) The One With Opposite Cleaning Habits

You may be super tidy, super messy, or somewhere in the middle. Whatever you are, recognize it and make sure you pick someone that who can work with you. Arguments about cleaning are very common among roommates, and making sure that you both know what to expect will save a lot of time and conflict.

Not everyone is going to have the same cleaning standards as you do, but finding someone who you can at least handle your routines will be a big plus for both of you.

Clearly Define Rules and Expectations

Talk about everything that may eventually be an issue between you. From cleaning, to groceries, to guest allowances, and splitting costs–everything should be on the table early on.

Make up a Roommate Agreement and discuss all of the terms before signing. It might seem formal, but you’re going to trust them with your privacy and possessions as well as sharing financial and household responsibilities. Writing out your agreement keeps you both on the same page, and allows you to avoid misunderstandings.

It’ll also help to keep you in the clear if any trouble should arise. By keeping your end of the bargain, you are being a fair roommate and holding to your commitments.

Learn From Mistakes

If you’ve had a roommate before, and you had a bad experience, learn from it. What didn’t you like about the situation? What could you have done differently?

If you were too close to the person, live with someone who you don’t know as well. If you were just too different, live with someone who you have more in common with.

Post an ad that can help you to avoid anyone that just wouldn’t pass the test by listing your wants, needs, and preferences. Make sure to be reasonable in your expectations by not being too restrictive. You might never find the perfect roommate, but by being careful you can certainly find a great one.

Posted by Brittany Foster

Brittany is a writer, editor, and content manager interested in law, marketing, and technology. She's been writing for LawDepot since 2014.