Ask Ainsley, Student Life

Ask Ainsley: Finding the perfect roommate

Dear Ainsley,

We are already halfway through the semester and I will soon need to pack up my room in res to go home for the summer, but I still don’t know where I’ll be coming back to in September. Time has gone by so fast and I now realize that before even starting to look for apartments, I need to find my future roommate. But where do I start? Please help.


Panicking Over Flatmate (POF)

Dear POF,

Don’t worry, I have been in your shoes and so have thousands of other students. You still have time. Finding a roommate is not something that you should rush. Here are a few tips to help you figure out who you’re going to live with.

Living with a friend?

It’s true that for some, living with a friend is the best way to find the perfect roommate. But for others, it breaks the friendship: You can be really close friends with someone and still not be made to live together, and that is okay—it doesn’t mean that you love the person any less. Sometimes, it’s better to live with someone you don’t know. That way, there are no expectations involved and no room for disappointment. It’s also a great way to meet new people. Remember to set boundaries and communicate and everything will work out fine.

I would suggest living with a friend of yours only if their living style is compatible with yours. Otherwise, my biggest advice is to go to McGill Residences events. They organize a talk called Life Beyond Residences and you can be sure to find other people looking for roommates there, and they give great guidance as well. Apart from this, don’t hesitate to mention that you’re looking for a roommate to people around you—in your classes and to friends of friends for instance—and to check out some McGill Facebook groups as well.


Who in this world actually wants to live with someone dirty? I know I definitely don’t. It is crucial that you and your future roommate agree on the cleaning processes and boundaries. My roommate and I agreed when we moved in together that the dishes should be done immediately after eating if possible, or should not stay more than 24 hours in the sink. This is what works for us. Find what criteria work for you and make sure your future flatmate agrees. It can be really irritating to live with someone who doesn’t care as much about cleaning, or who cares far more about it, than you. 

Social battery levels

If you lived in residence with a roommate during your first year you know how important having a compatible schedule is. As someone who likes staying at home with a book and a cup of tea on Thursday night, you might not want to live with a party animal—and vice versa. I recommend finding someone who matches the way your social battery level fluctuates. It’s fine if you do not always want to do the same things but trust my word on this: It’s not nice coming home after a long day of school wanting to go to bed early to find your roommate partying in the living room. 

Complementary habits 

Cooking together is a great way to bond with your roommate at the beginning of your shared journey. While it’s always nice to discover someone else’s go-to food, my advice is to find someone who has pretty similar taste as you do—especially if you are a picky eater. If you don’t like cooking then you might want to find someone who does and would be down to prepare delicious meals for the both of you. In exchange, you could offer to handle the dishes for instance. Either way, the perfect roommate should align with your preferences. 

I hope this helps. Signing a roommate agreement might also be a good idea in order to put your standards for each other into writing and avoid a mid-semester crisis. Don’t forget that the only person you are going to be living with for the rest of your life is yourself—you are your own perfect roommate—so don’t stress too much about finding the perfect roommate when your stay with them is not going to last forever.

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