A PROJECT OF THE County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency

Having a Roommate

Most likely, you will need to have one or more roommates in order to be able to afford the costs of renting and living in an apartment. Living with roommates is like living with a family; even if you think you like each other/are friends, problems and disagreements are bound to come up. It is a great idea to discuss and agree on “rules” in advance.

  • Will you split the rent and utilities equally?
  • Do you agree on rules for visitors in the apartment?
  • Do you agree on things such as quiet time, borrowing each other’s property, etc?
  • Will you split the cost of food?
  • Will you share food, or buy your own?
  • Who does what chores?


  • Does the person you want to live with have a job?
  • They need to be responsible for their share of the rent and bills.
  • Do they fit your criteria for an acceptable roommate?
  • For example, are they messy while you are neat?
  • Do they smoke and you hate smoke?
  • Is the person you want as your roommate 100% trustworthy?
  • Can you trust them to pay bills ON TIME, or to be alone with your things?
  • Are the two of you compatible – are you sure you will get along 24/7?
  • Do they have a criminal record or history of bad credit?

It is dangerous to blindly live with someone unless you know the person really well. If they have bad credit it could affect your capability of getting an apartment. Be sure their name is on the lease!

How to Find a Roommate

  • Look for someone you know VERY well.
  • Look on the internet for roommates that will be compatible with you.
  • There are tons of web sites dedicated to this, however be extremely careful.
  • There are ads in the newspaper of people looking for roommates.
  • Put your own ad in the paper indicating the qualifications needed to be your roommate.

Interview Potential Roommates

This is your opportunity to talk about responsibilities, expectations and how to split bills. (If interviewing strangers, ask for proof – ask them to bring a check stub and their ID.)

When you choose your roommate, make sure that both your names are on your rental agreement/lease. This will ensure that you are not the only one responsible for damage or repairs needed in the apartment. This gives you equal responsibility. Also, you should be very confident that your roommate would hold up their end of the responsibilities, for your protection. Always remember your safety and financial securities are things you should not jeopardize under any circumstances.