Moving day can be summed up in three words: hectic, awkward, and exciting. You’ll definitely get your workout in for the day by carrying all of your awesome new dorm décor from your car to your new home away from home. You’ll also be bombarded with all kinds of information, and, in the span of only a few hours, meet tons of new people—one of whom will be your roommate. Get prepared for living with your new roomie by getting answers to some of these basic questions before stepping foot on campus or in the dorm.
1. What are you bringing for the room?
This is one of the most important questions to ask your roomie before you move in. You wouldn’t want to arrive on moving day to find out you and your roommate are now the proud owners of two microwaves and no mini fridge! Make sure to coordinate well in advance to make sure one of you isn’t stuck buying and bringing most of the big-ticket items like a fridge, microwave, TV, rug, or mirror, as well as double-check to make sure you won’t have duplicate items. This planning is super important, as many dorms restrict the number of large items you can keep in one room. Keep in mind that space will also be limited in the dorm, so you won’t want two fridges, even if there’s no official rule limiting the number of items per room.
2. Is anyone coming with to help you move in? What time will you be there?
It’s also a good idea to coordinate move-in schedules. If one of you is short a set of hands or needs help carrying in large items, you might want to see if you and your new roommate can help each other out and move stuff in together. If you’re planning to bring the whole fam with you to help set up your new space, you might want to make sure a large group won’t be in the way of anyone your roommate is bringing with her. Touch base and find out when and who will be helping your roommate move in, and share the same information with her to ensure you won’t have a mini traffic jam in your room or the hallway.
3. What are you thinking in terms of dorm décor?
Make sure to talk to your roommate before you hit the stores to find all kinds of awesome dorm decor to fill your room with. Find out if she was planning on or interested in coordinating colors or patterns. It’s also smart to discuss whether one of you has anything large or bulky you’re planning on bringing that could take up a lot of space, like a large poster or an extra chair or futon.
4. Did you do any clubs or activities in high school?
Discussing past activities and interests will help you and your roomie figure out if you have any common interests that could translate to college. You were both debaters? Awesome—you just found someone to go check out your college’s team with! It’s also an easy, no-pressure question that can help you two break the ice and get to know each other better.
5. Are any of your friends going here?
Meeting people through your roommate is a great way to start broadening your social circle in college, especially early on in the year. Find out if she knows anyone she could introduce you to, and be willing to do the same if you know others at your college or university. Asking a question like this is also an easy way to find out whether or not your roommate plans to use the room often for socializing, and then you can discuss any potential issues or problems that might crop up as a result.
6. How do you picture us using the room?
It’s always a good idea to set boundaries to make sure both of you get to enjoy your dorm the way you hoped to. Most collegiettes do a mix of hanging out, studying, and sleeping in their dorm rooms. Work together with your roommate to figure out if there are times when one or both of you would prefer to keep the room as a study space, as well as how comfortable you are with the room being a spot for a group to gather or relax in. You also might want to bring up topics like how often and how late you’re comfortable having friends in the room, as well as what you plan to do if a guy wants to stay the night. Bringing this subject up early on can help you avoid potentially messy situations down the road. Make sure you also discuss whether or not you’re comfortable letting the other person use your stuff, and how you’ll handle the situation if something goes missing or gets broken.
7. How do you like to study/sleep/relax?
It’s also a good idea to discuss in detail how the two of you prefer to go about day-to-day activities. After all, the dorm room you’re sharing will be your home for the next nine months on campus. Clarify things like whether or not you need music or white noise to fall asleep to, whether or not noise and distractions are acceptable when studying or if quiet is preferred instead, and how comfortable the two of you are with overnight visitors on weeknights. Don’t be afraid to be honest about how you prefer things, and set up the expectation that both of you will stick to what you’ve shared and agreed to set as room rules.
8. Know any cool campus secrets or traditions?
Instant roomie bonding alert! Find out if your roommate is as excited as you are to partake in some crazy freshman orientation tradition, rub or touch the lucky object on campus, go try some other cool tradition, or check out a hot spot near the school. It’s an easy way to continue getting to know your roommate, especially in the first few days when the two of you won’t know many other people on campus yet. Having something fun planned also gives you something to look forward to and can ease some of the pre-move-in or pre-college jitters!
9. Is there anything that can’t be in the room?
Get the year off to an excellent start with your new roommate by clarifying whether or not there’s anything one or both of you are absolutely not comfortable with having in the room, or can’t have in the room for medical reasons. For example, if your roommate is allergic to peanuts, you probably shouldn’t be whipping up a PB&J every day in the dorm. It’s hard to get used to living with someone else who has a totally different idea of what’s acceptable and what’s not in such a personal space, so make sure you’re clear about what you absolutely cannot tolerate. (Be polite about it, though! Your roommate is more likely to agree with your preferences if you ask nicely and explain why each one is important to you.)
10. Should we put any of this in writing after arriving?
If you’ve found a lot of points where you disagree, especially about important things like visitors in the room, overnight guests, cleanliness, or sleeping habits, it might be a good idea to write out a roommate contract. Some schools even require students to complete one, so make sure to check in with an RA once you’ve arrived to discuss contracts if your dorm requires one.
Your dorm room is a small but key part of your time at school. It’s important that it remains a space you feel comfortable and welcome in at any time. Working through these 10 questions right away will clear the air and make sure the both of you are proud to call the dorm your own!