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Practical Tips for Finding a Good Roommate at Music School

Finding a roommate at a new school is an awkward endeavor. There's no getting around that. You have relatively little time to make a big decision.  Welcome to adulting.

At some schools your new roommate may be chosen for you.  This article focuses on the scenario that you will have control over who you live with.

You may never have complete insight as to how to pick, and who will make, the perfect roommate for you. You can, however, do a lot to improve your chances of finding and identifying someone you can live with – literally.

How to figure out if you're a match

Start with understanding that no one is perfect, including you. Don't let the search for the perfect get in the way of saying "yes" to the pretty darn good. Everyone has to work at being a good roommate (again, including you), so you want to find someone who also understands this truth. It's an excellent shared foundation for navigating the inevitable roommate squabbles that will come up.

Before you start looking, do list your deal breakers. If you're a neat freak, can you live with someone messy as long as they're not dirty?  Or do you need someone who's going to make their bed every morning too? If you're both homebodies, do you consider that a positive or negative? Confine your deal-breaker list to those traits that will significantly impact your quality of life.

You also want to be honest about whether you and a potential roommate share a natural rapport. Rapport isn't about having a ton of things in common or feeling like you're already fast friends after one conversation. You can have rapport without any of that. Conversely, having an immediate social connection can mask fundamental differences in temperament. Don't let relaxed sociability distract you. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How's our communication? Does it flow? Do we understand what the other is saying, or does sharing a thought or question take a lot of explanation?
  • Do we have compatible temperaments? What about our competitive dispositions? Is this someone who will stress me because they're too intense or frustrate me because they're too laid-back?

Even with natural rapport, roommates with divergent schedules are seldom a good match. It's difficult for a night owl and early bird to live happily with each other. If you're both heavy sleepers and both have schedules that take you mostly away from the room – having opposite schedules could actually be a blessing. But this is a rare situation and too risky to chance that's how it would work out. Find someone who has a similar sleep/wake schedule to you.

As you vet potential roommates, explore their social media. You'll get a broader look into their interests, lifestyle, and temperament. You may be able to eliminate some candidates at this stage. They'll be looking at yours.

When you are talking with someone about rooming together, don't just text or phone. If already in the same city, get together and talk face to face. If you're not in the same place, Facetime, Snapchat, or use some video chat. Body language tells you a lot. We're more engaged in a video chat when we know people can see us, than when text or talk only (and we're all doing at least 3 other things).

Where to find your next roommate

As you figure out how to select a roommate, you also need to find places to source potential roommates.

If you already know someone who's starting at the same conservatory, take an objective look at their potential as a roommate. Is it worth having a talk with them about the possibility? Think about the pros and cons of living with a friend.

Check out the online new student group on whatever social media platform hosts it. If there are school-sponsored and informal groups, check them all out. Don't just be a respondent to "seeking roommate" posts you find there. If you have bright red lines, why don't you post an ad? Keep in mind, if you have a list of 10 "must and must not do's" in your ad, don't be surprised if the response is limited.

Does your conservatory offer a roommate match service? Many do. Look on the housing page of the website, which is where the link will most likely be.

You can also look at online roommate services like RoomSurf, Room8, and Craig's List. You might decide that rooming with someone who's a student at a different local school is a net benefit.

If you do use these other services, don't rely on them to do the most critical work for you. While some of them let you filter potential roommates by interest or schedule, nothing takes the place of the direct interaction to help you figure out who might make a good roommate.

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