Around this time last year, my mind was in a state of chaos. I had graduated high school and was ready to start the grand adventure that was college, but there were still a wide array of questions I had to answer: where would I be living? How far would I live from the McDonald's on campus? Would I actually go to the gym like I promised myself I would?
But then, the most important question rang in my ears: who in the world was I going to be living with?
That's when I immediately turned to the Internet (which solves everyone's problems), joining as many college groups, chat rooms and roommate match websites as I could.
I remember thinking that I was taking the perfect steps in finding the perfect roommate. And the perfect roommate for me was someone who shared my love of ice hockey, Taylor Lautner and potatoes. Oh, and someone who wouldn't mind me pasting my wall with posters or staying up late working on articles.
Unfortunately, my logarithm for finding a roommate didn't go as planned; I thought I found my perfect match (now one of my closest friends at school), but we were placed into a triple, which I decided would be too much pressure given my day-to-day job, loads of school work and more.
So then, things got even worse, because me being desperate, I picked another roommate without even speaking to them. Long story short, things got a little too creepy and a little too real, and I found myself out of my dorm and into a single by the end of my first month at college.
This scenario, ladies and gentlemen, is what inspired me to get on and write an advice column of sorts, a go-to playbook with tips and tricks for finding the perfect roommate so you don't end up like me, wheeling a suitcase and carrying packed cardboard boxes across campus to another building.
Tip #1: Looking Online is a Good Place to Start
The Internet can be a scary place; it's a vast world full of strangers who you have never met before, and when you're headed to college, you're joining at least 1,000 other students in your exact shoes. What you should do, if you haven't already done it, is join a Facebook group or a Groupme with fellow prospective students.
This will allow you to meet new people and give you the opportunity to find someone with similar interests. When starting out, you can even write up a post in one of these groups, introducing yourself, your major and a list of your hobbies and interests. Your twin could be sitting in that group, also stuck looking for a roommate, who would be a perfect match.
Tip #2: It's Okay to Do Some Research
When you think you've found someone that you want to live with, keep in mind that it's okay to get some intel on their background. Yes, you are allowed to look at their profile, and take a look at their interests.
However, don't go overboard and become a stalker. You don't need to know every little detail about their life, and if you have questions about their personal life, it's better to ask your future roommate about them instead of scouring the Internet for the answers.
Some "creeping" is acceptable, but stop when it becomes too creepy. Trust me, when that moment comes, you'll know...
Tip #3: There's More to a Roommate Than Common Interests
While it is great that you found someone with similar interests, that is not the most important thing when choosing a roommate. You will be living with this person for about nine months out of the year, meaning that this will be the person you share your temporary home with.
It's important that you ask them about their habits. Do they wake up early or late, and do they go to bed before or after your bedtime? Are they relatively organized and neat, or do they resemble Pig-Pen from Peanuts? Are they loud, and do they like to have visitors often, or are they relatively quiet and use the room to study? Do they smoke?
These are all important questions, and they are a priority for you. The most important thing when it comes to living with a roommate is that you put yourself first. Sure, you want to find a roommate who shares those similar interests and likes the same things that you do, but if they turn out to do things that make your living experience uncomfortable, it's an issue.
Say you and your roommate both like pizza and sports, but your roommate is the kind of person who stays up until 4 a.m. watching cartoons on TV. They also love to eat Doritos and doesn't bother picking the crumbs and wrappers off the floor.
This would present a problem for you if you're an early bird and a neat freak, and therefore, this might not be the best roommate for you. Make the right decision here.
Tip #4: Your Roommate Doesn't Have to Be Your Best Friend
This tip was one that I couldn't process. Your roommate doesn't have to be your best friend, and it's likely that this could be the case. Sure, having a lot in common is great, but your needs come first. That means if you find someone who's neat and shares the same habits as you, but doesn't necessarily share the same interests, they can still be a perfect roommate. Finding an ideal roommate to live with is more of a priority than finding a best friend before you move in.
At college, there are a lot of places to go to meet people besides your dorm room. You will be living on a floor with plenty of other people and going to classes with other students, and when you start to get involved in club activities, the friends will come.
When you do find your roommate, make sure that you voice your opinion, even if you worry that it could put a strain on friendship. Make sure you be civil, but stand up for yourself and tell them of things that upset you. If you maintain a positive, strong and honest relationship with your roommate, you will find that it's much easier than bottling up your emotions and letting them do what they want, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
So, if your prospective roommate isn't the most fun-loving person (the kind of person who loves to sit in silence and write essays), but keeps the room neat, goes to bed at a similar time as you and isn't a serial killer, then this would be your best option.
Tip #5: The Living Agreement is Very Important
When you get the living agreement for you and your roommate to fill out, make sure you do it as soon as possible with your roommate. Believe it or not, that one document is one of the most important things you will come across when it comes to living with your roommate. It sets the standards for your room and rules, and delegates when you will have visitors, and how you will handle issues that may come up.
Be sure to take the time to go over everything, and speak your mind, be honest and ask your roommate all of the questions you need. You can take the time to revisit the document when issues arise, and it will help resolve the conflicts and set more standards as the year goes along. This helps avoid confusion and problems that could arise.
While the living agreement can always be changed, make sure you change them with your roommate, and don't leave them in the dark so that it only lives up to your standards. The agreement is shared with more than one person for a reason: so that everyone is comfortable.
Hopefully these tips have helped you when it comes to finding the perfect roommate, and remember, you come first.