Like a lot of millennials, I lived with a lot of roommates in my day. Some of them were terrific; others were… less terrific; and as time went on, I got a clearer and clearer idea of what qualities I looked for in a roommate before I moved in with them. I’m not alone, either — a survey from roommate-finding community SpareRoom recently revealed the top 25 things that make a good roommate. The list is super relatable — and honestly, it seems like not a lot has changed in terms of what people want in an ideal roommate from own shared household days.
SpareRoom helps people looking for roommates connect, whether you’re the one with the room to let or whether you’re in search of a room to rent yourself. Originally founded in the UK in 2004, it now operates in both the UK and the United States — and business is booming: As of 2018, a full third of U.S. adults live with at least one roommate “who is not the household head, the spouse or unmarried partner of the head, or an 18- to 24-year-old student,” according to the Pew Research Center. Tools that make the roommate-finding process easier — and safer — are always a good idea, which is what SpareRoom hopes to accomplish.
To that end, the site recently surveyed more than 6,000 roommates and roommate-seekers to find out what qualities people most look for in someone they’re thinking of sharing a living space with. The results yielded a list of 25 qualities ranging from no-brainers (quiet, tidy, similar ages or interest) to... unexpected (likes, dislikes, whether or not you already own your own furniture).
You can see the full list here, but for now, let’s focus on two different areas: The top five must-have qualities people want in a roommate, and the five most… uh… unique qualities
The Top Five:
The top five top qualities are unsurprising, but also weirdly difficult to come by. You’d think that if everyone wants roommates with these qualities, wouldn’t everyone would also make an effort to cultivate those qualities in themselves? If you want, say, a respectful roommate, you’d better also be respectful yourself — and yet, judging by the extreme number of terrible roommate stories floating around out there, this seems not to be the case. Heck, according to a recent survey by Abodo, one in every 16 people reports stealing as being one of their biggest roommate pet peeves while also admitting to stealing themselves — and one in 11 people reports not paying rent as a major no-no while also admitting to being guilty of it themselves.
Anyway, here's what folks think are must-haves in a roommate:
A full 99 percent of people said they wanted roommates who are respectful. What that means might vary from person to person, but generally, it’s a good idea to do things like ask if it’s OK before you invite anyone over (and, y’know, don’t do it if your roommate says it’s not a good time) and not eat your roommate’s food without permission.
Responsibility also rated highly, with 99 percent of respondents saying they looked for this quality in a roommate. Clean up after yourself. Pay your rent and utilities on time. Don’t leave the door unlocked, especially if no one is home. That kind of thing.
Honesty is a biggie; 99 percent of people want honest roommates. Honesty might encompass anything from coming clean about it if you accidentally damage something belonging to someone else to communicating clearly and respectfully about any issues you might be having with your roommate’s behavior.
No one wants to clean up after their roommate. Nor does anyone want bugs or rodents invading due to a lack of cleanliness. However, as with many of these qualities being “clean” or “neat” means different things to different people — to some, a little clutter is OK as long as it’s not out of control or gross, while to others, being “neat” means having a perfectly KonMari’d space everywhere at all times. Make sure everyone’s clear on what being “clean” and “neat” actually mean with regards to a shared household, ideally before you move in with them — and keep communicating clearly about it as necessary.
I think it’s noteworthy that people want to live with someone who is friendly — but not necessarily someone who is a friend. You don’t have to be friends with your roommate; you just have to be able to live together, ideally pleasantly.
The Most Unique:
Incidentally, what I consider to be the most unique or unexpected qualities people look for in a roommate also cover numbers 21 through 25 of the top 25 list — that is, they did make the list, but they’re probably more like the “would be nice to have” variety of qualities than the “must absolutely have” ones that occupy the higher spots on the list. Still, though — they're worth considering.
1. Love For Plants
Note that this one is positioned as a like, rather than a skill. This is good for people like me, who do appreciate plants and don’t mind them being in the space, but who also don’t cultivate them themselves because they, uh, always accidentally kill them. I will not touch your plants, and you probably don’t want me taking care of them, but you’re welcome to have them.
2. Shares A Similar Sense Of Style
It’s not clear whether “sense of style” refers to interior design or to fashion, but I could see either making sense. Presumably you’d want to live with someone who shares your interior design aesthetic so you don’t either A) end up fighting about décor all the time, or B) end up living in a space you hate; however, if you interpret it to be more fashion-oriented, then I suppose sharing a similar sense of style would facilitate some fun wardrobe swapping. Just, y’know, make sure you return whatever you borrow when you’re done with it.
3. Likes To Bake
Hello, hi. It’s me. I am that roommate known for performing random acts of baking (although never at weird hours — I understand that 11pm is often not the best time to begin a baking experiment for everyone else living in the space). Never underestimate the joys of having a variety of homemade baked goods on hand at all times.
4. Willingness To Share A Netflix Subscription
According to a 2018 survey, three out of every four adults in the United States share streaming accounts; these days, it's more unusual to find a roommate situation where folks aren’t sharing one Netflix account than it is to find one where folks are. However, you might want to make sure that by “sharing a subscription,” you specify whether that means you’re splitting the cost, too: That same survey noted that a full third of users who share streaming accounts only share the actual service — that is, they leave just one person holding the bag when it comes to actually paying for it.
5. Wine Drinker
25 percent of people said they wanted to live with a wine drinker. Hello, new friends. How are you today? Shall we extoll together the fine qualities of a nice, full-bodied red?