Finding a Roommate

There are a variety of ways to go about identifying a possible roommate, even if you do not know anyone else who is or will be in Chicago. As with the apartment search itself, it’s best to consider beforehand what you need or want in a roommate: is it important that they share your cleaning or social preferences? Are you willing to live with pets, or with someone who smokes? Where are you hoping to live, and do you prefer a particular type of apartment? Once you’ve identified your needs in these areas, consider some of the following options for finding a roommate.

  • Use our free self-service roommate finder, MyCollegeRoomie (MCR). Incoming students will receive an email in May with instructions for using their account. This platform is specific to UChicago graduate students and will let you connect with other new arrivals based on a preferences survey, your program, or other factors. Even if you aren’t looking for a roommate, you can use MCR to connect with other incoming students and make a plan to meet up once on campus.
  • Connect with current or incoming students on listhosts or social media. Does your school, department, or division have a listhost, Facebook page, or other way to contact others in those programs?
  • Use a roommate matching service. These are offered by some major rental companies, but only for their own properties, and sometimes by independent apartment search companies. We recommend that you not pay for this service, and you shouldn’t have to pay anyone to help you find an apartment, either.
  • Look for listings of current tenants advertising for a new roommate. The University’s Marketplace site and other listing sites will often have ads seeking a new roommate. You could also post such an ad asking for someone to apartment-hunt with.
  • Make sure that you are clear from the start about the items you identified as most important to you and think about how you will know the person will be a reliable and safe roommate. Once you have identified a potential roommate, consider discussing with them the sorts of issues that may arise. Dealing with these issues up front may save you from problems later and should be addressed before signing a lease with them. Consider creating a written agreement in advance spelling out your arrangement.

Remember that once you sign a lease together, you will each be individually responsible to the landlord for all tenant obligations under the terms of your lease, including the rent and any damages to the unit, so please choose your fellow tenants carefully.

  • Do you share the concerns that you identified as most important? That is, will your preferences regarding cleaning, lifestyle, studying, and social habits be a good fit with this person’s preferences?
  • Will he or she respect your personal property and privacy?
  • How will you divide the rental payments, utility expenses, and even groceries?
  • Who will provide or pay for which household items (furniture, kitchenware, etc.)?
  • If disagreements happen, how will you handle them?

Tips for Living with a Roommate

Planning ahead is a great way to ensure that you and your roommate are a good fit. Going into the roommate relationship with open lines of communication and a plan for addressing issues if they arise, will help prevent unnecessary conflict. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your roommate experience.

  • Be sure that you are being a good roommate. Adhere to the terms of your agreement and your rental obligations and be open to dialogue and feedback.
  • Avoid making assumptions and try to be explicit: don’t expect them to be able to read your mind or assume that everyone does things the same way you do.
  • When possible, communicate in person with your roommate. This is likely to be more effective than communicating via impersonal notes or other means. For important conversations, plan a time in advance, and be sure that everyone’s physical needs are met beforehand. Having difficult conversations will be easier if you are not hungry, tired, about to go to class, or feel “ambushed” by the discussion.
  • Be flexible. If everyone is open to compromise and adjustment along the way, new situations can be addressed constructively.
  • If an issue arises that you are not able to reach agreement on, ask a neutral third party to help you find a solution together.