The Six Types of Roommates: Which Are You?

Haley Nahman | January 17, 2017

Be honest!

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For a long time, I lived with a partner and assumed I’d never live with roommates again. The shower politics, the labeling of leftovers, the unspoken tracking of who cleaned the bathroom last — I was thrilled to leave it all behind. But when I decided to move to New York on my own and knew I’d have to re-enter the roommate realm, I found myself inexplicably excited. The group grocery trips, the family hangovers, the what-should-we-do-tomorrow mentality. I kind of missed it!

But when searching for a shared apartment on Craigslist — something I documented in detail — the roommate qualm turned out to be one of the hardest. Because while we all care a lot about who we live with (and have horror stories to prove just how much), the customs around picking city roommates are frighteningly blasé. A quick email, a lie-riddled questionnaire (“clean? fairly!”), an open house meet-n-greet wherein everyone pretends they aren’t in competition with each other. It’s bizarre.

Ultimately, I lucked out. My three roommates and I already feel like family. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate how non-psychopathic they are considering how hastily we all decided to share our lives. We’re not without our complex dynamics, though. Maybe that’s what makes it kind of fun. The risks, the challenges, the forced intimacy. It can feel like for every positive roommate trait, there is a potential equal and opposite downside. Let’s review the classics.

The one who is friendly, a real angel, but never leaves you the fuck alone.

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This roommate is a joy to be around, truly. It’s so nice to have someone who seems genuinely interested in how your day went. But when they linger in your doorway asking you 21 questions when you’re clearly tired and not interested in chit chat, you fantasize about pressing a button that drops them through a small (harmless!) trap door.

The one who’s chill and easygoing but tbh never gets off the freaking couch, always steals your food.

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This roommate is so cool. There is no one better to marathon the entire Game of Thrones series with, and they always know where to get the best take out. The only problem is their body is permanently imprinted on the couch and your tortilla chips keep mysteriously disappearing.

The one who is a blast and throws a great party but wakes you up at 2 a.m. at least twice a week.

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Love this roommate! When you get home around 10 p.m. a little tipsy from dinner and have the sudden urge to dance, they are always down to make a sudden, last-minute night of it. They’ll turn on some music and start fixing cocktails for all the roommates immediately. They’re so fun. Except for the whole “weeknight” thing, when 10 p.m. feels a little more like bed time. And now you’re listening to them make a sudden, last-minute night of it with someone else.

The one who is quirky and always showing you interesting stuff but never does a single chore.

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This roommate is always out doing (and inviting you to) really interesting stuff around town. It’s awesome. And when they’re home, they’re always working on a cool project or cooking up a weird recipe they saw in the New York Times. The problem is, remnants of their projects are always strewn about the common spaces and their dishes sit in the sink for days because they’re out doing interesting stuff around town.

The one who takes care of everyone and is always cleaning up but leaves passive-aggressive notes.

The-Six-Type-of-Roommates-Man-Repeller-6 What a great roommate — so helpful and always chipping in. They’re definitely doing more than their fair share! It’s especially sweet when they bake for all the roommates. Less great is the note on the container that says, “Help yourself! And maybe don’t leave your shit scattered everywhere 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 ”

The one who is quiet and tidy but always mysteriously shut in their room.

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Such an easy roommate! No annoying lingering, no couch potatoing, no loud partying, no dishes in the sink, no rude notes, no….anything. Wait a minute, what are they doing in there? Is this person a serial killer???? This roommate’s quiet presence is almost worse than the outright flaws.

Please identify yourself in the comments and/or do the important work of creating more archetypes! There is room for plenty more in this mischief.*

*The name for a group of mice. V cute/apropos.

Illustrations by Maria Jia Ling Pitt; follow her on Instagram @heysuperstar.

  • Robin

    Think I’m a mix of quirky and friendly. Honestly both my annoying roommate (couchpotato that never cleans) and my room/soulmate (we angel eachother but don’t get annoyed. She’s like a sister minus the fighting) are leaving the house this month and I’m simultaneously cheering and mourning their departures. It’s such a whirlwind of emotions..

  • i am numbers 1-4.

  • Emma

    haha the last one was hilariously described!

  • Amelia Diamond

    i laughed out loud. I am the last two!

    • hilary

      same

      • Samantha Lee

        Same x 2.

  • I think I’m the one who takes care of everyone/passive aggressive, but still in denial about it.

  • tmm16

    I’m either #3 or #6, I wonder what that says about my personality?

    I live with3 girls in a house in Philadelphia. All 22. I’m sending this to them so we can debate who’s who later tonight.

    Can’t wait to relive this again in NYC in a year!!!

  • Jamie

    Haha!! I’m definitely the mysterious roommate (not a serial killer, just an introvert!). My ex-roomies would jump out of their skin when I popped out to the kitchen, because they thought no one was home!!

  • I’m the mysterious one – once I’m home, I like my alone time!

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • “The one who is quiet and tidy but always mysteriously shut in their room.” Me 100% – I just need my space

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Leandra Medine

    Maria! Your mice rule.
    Haley! You forgot the roommates who have sex and file taxes jointly!

    • Haley Nahman

      My B!

    • Emily Michaelis

      i live with those roommates! ty

    • Maria Jia Ling Pitt

      Thank you! I wish real mice had this much style.

  • Bee

    I feel like I’m definitely the first one. I can be really annoying with wanting to chat constantly.

    Briana
    http://www.youngsophisticate.com

  • Grace B

    Last one!

  • Just sayin’

    Cute article!

    You left one out though. The one who is always in a bad mood, complains when asked to contribute to anything, is above doing chores, uses other’s personal items, has a raging sense of entitlement, uses every situation to their advantage or they whine loudly. Don’t even get me started about what happens when they decide to move out the day before rent is due and expect all the rules to be broken for their very very special selves.What do you call that one?

    • Katrina Lee

      An asshole?

  • 20 oz filet

    While my old roommate matches the descriptions of 1-4 perfectly, I was the roommate whose significant other was practically always there. Evened itself out I suppose, but i still feel bad about it.

    • Haley Nahman

      TOTALLY FORGOT THAT TYPE!!! “The person who is always around, actually doesn’t live there nor pay rent but is dating someone who is”

      • Gabrielle

        a la Bevers of Broad City!

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    omgggg i am literally the couch roommate, i’m sorry to my ex roomies of 160 Dalewood </3

  • Samantha Lee

    Haha, I am some combination of the last two. But thankfully, the days of “real” roommates are over! #thatmarriedlifeyo.
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  • Ooh, I’m the one mysteriously shut in her room. Definitely not a serial killer, but also not very social. And when I’m being social I prefer it to be outside my house? Currently I live alone though so no one else can see my introverted ways.

    • SAME. Social time is outside the house.

  • Kattigans

    I’m definitely the mysterious roommate and also kinda the my-boyfriend-comes-over-almost-every-weekend roommate. We try to make it so we aren’t holed up in the apartment but I have my own bathroom and its just easier. I’ve also lived w/ the psycho roommate who is not chill. Never a fun experience especially in sky-high rents SF.

  • Lauren Helen

    I’m the mysterious one hiding away- I make a small effort to be more social but I am an introvert and since I am forced to be social all day outside of the house, when I come home I just want to be alone for the most part!

  • Megan Y

    I’m defffff the last one with a little of the cleaning/passive aggressive (although I’ve gotten WAY better and just started not caring about their messes ha). My bf stays over 90% of the time, but stays in my room and then leaves when he gets up. I’m just super introverted though, and work in an office with people so when I get home I don’t want to talk to anyone. I live with a couple who are a mix between #2-4.

  • Sabletoothtigre

    Wait, what about the roommate who burdens everyone else by having their S.O. over all the time and then gives their S.O. a key just because they’re over all the time (even when that roommate isn’t even home), and then when it’s gently suggested that if S.O. is going to literally live there that S.O. should contribute somehow to the apartment and then that roommates gets suuuuper huffy and pissed that how dare you make a guest uncomfortable in your home?

    • Jen

      Sounds like Bevers from Broad City…

    • Haley Nahman

      TOTALLY FORGOT THIS ONE.

    • I have lived with this girl!!! And another who always had 1 (and sometimes 2!) friends staying over. She would sneak them in at midnight and then try and get them showered and gone before we woke up. The lease allowed stay over guests just not as long and frequently as she brought them by.

      • Sabletoothtigre

        Maybe she was running a very exclusive one-woman shelter?

    • Meg

      Ugh. I’m still mad at my ex for giving me a key to his house and not telling his roommates he did. I mean, I used it all of 3 or 4 times over the 6 months he lived there… but I still felt TERRIBLE. I only found out after we broke up.

    • nataliejharms

      OR the roomie that is in a serious relationship and lives at her S.O. apt which leaves you the whole place to yourself (or one that works a lot and same thing; never home) 😎😎😎😎

    • BK

      YES OMG and she leaves the S.O there while she goes to work all day so you have to babysit him (read: stop him blazing up in literally every room) whilst trying to write your thesis.

    • OMG this person! It’s annoying ‘cos then they’re using more water and gas and electric but don’t pay any extra towards it! We all really liked our roomate’s girlfriend though so we didn’t reaaalllyyy mind!

  • Danielle.

    I hate to admit it, but I’m the quirky one (and I ALWAYS felt guilty about leaving my shit around, esp the half-finished projects, but I could never break the habit. So much to go do and see!). I didn’t find out until after I moved out that the ‘angel’ and ‘chill’ roommates they were apparently always trying to keep the ‘passive-aggressive’ roommate from killing me. I just thought she liked writing notes!

    Also, she kept moving us from chore wheels, to chore charts, to chore graphs, to chore tear-away post-its where you had to add up to certain number of points every week. And we’d get a weekly rant about the shower and how cleaning the shower was worth two or three other chores. I was like, “Listen, apparently you think cleaning the shower is the worst job anyone could possibly have to do. How about I just do it every week and that way we aren’t always dividing up and trying to measure each chore on a point system.’

    But I wasn’t allowed to…because apparently this roommate didn’t think it was fair and whoever was stuck with cleaning the shower each week would be resentful forever for having to always do the worst job.

    I would have rather been anywhere other than listening to those rants…including cleaning the damn shower.

    Anyhoo. Now my husband is used to all my half-finished projects, but he gives me gentle, direct nudges that are far more effective than cryptic notes doodled with sinister/frustrated, yet happy looking smiley faces.

    Humans are weird.

    • BK

      The real question is who cleans the shower nowadays, your or husband?

  • Sara

    i’m definitely a “mysterious” (read: introverted) roomie with a “real friendly, IRL angel, won’t leave you the hell alone” … help.

  • Miss J

    I’m the muffin-baking passive aggressive. I’ll cook for you, just keep all your shit in your room. I’m very thankful for having to share an apartment with someone other than a boyfriend just once in my entire life, and another time when I crashed in someone’s home for a month. Glad that’s all behind me.

  • Kate

    I think it’s really interesting that most MRs seem to be identifying as mysterious roommates AKA introverts. Correlation between introversion and man repelling, AKA correlation between introversion and awesomeness? (no disrespect intended to our extroverted sisters it’s just that they usually get their due cred).

    • an interesting observation!

    • Carly

      Correlation between introversion and having time to read the comments haha (I too identity as the mystery roommate).

  • The one who’s never there:

    You think you’ve been home at the same time once or twice but you can’t be sure. The only real encounter was when you exchanged awkward ‘hi’s’ with her and her friend a couple of days after you moved in. They were around for exactly 10 minutes, silent and stone faced, while she changed and grabbed her car keys. She was never seen again.
    (She’s probably a medical student, but still.)

    See also:

    – Roommate who doesn’t mind disturbing your sleep with tipsy explanations of that one funny joke her boyfriend told tonight because she can’t sleep, but the day she doesn’t go out and you get home and start snacking at midnight you’re met with a ‘hey, could you keep it down? It’s just not very considerate to be up and about at this time with all the lights on…’

    – Roommate who always loses her key. Leaves it with strangers, esp. uber drivers you’e never met who now have your address and a way to get into your house. (BTW, this is me being the passive aggressive note person because this has happened 3 times in the past year with the same girl.)

  • nicolacash

    I’m a combination of the chill one and also mysteriously shut in her room

  • Tangerine

    Oooops in college I was definitely the clean/passive aggressive note-leaver. And sometimes downright aggressive note-leaver. Now that I live with my boyfriend I’m a horrible combination of nice but never leaves you alone, and chill/easygoing but hogs the couch and eats all the food. TBH I suck lol!

  • Meg S

    I’m somewhere between quirky and quiet. I’m an introvert and all I want to do after work is be alone. Being around people all day, especially when socializing to a certain extent is expected, I’m ready for some quiet time. I’m not super tidy though, so my random artsy moments are all over the place. I live alone in a two bedroom condo and everything is either in my office or on my coffee table. Luckily, I live alone. Unluckily, the only one there to address the dishes in the sink is me.

  • Alyssa Neilson

    I def had the bottom two roommates when I lived in a 3 bedroom, hilariously accurate.

  • jess

    Mysteriously shut in my room! But I’m also fun! And I ask roomates how their day is! I just like staying in and my room happens to be the only room in the flat that doesn’t have That Smell

  • iamamouse

    These are the most adorable mice I’ve ever seen !!

    In a world that’s typically laser-focused on cats&dogs, it’s so nice to see rodents get some of the limelight for a change.

    More Mice, pleeeez !

  • hahahah I’ve had a few of them. Actually, I don’t know where to classify myself… depending on the moment I’m a bit more of this or that.

    Here my latest shooting about how to dress to go from the office directly to the afterwork
    http://www.mgluxurymarket.com/shooting-afterwork-date-part-ii/

    Have a lovely day! MG

  • nataliejharms

    im none of these bc i have no flaws 💁

  • Jolie

    I’ve truly been ALL of these roommates (except the clean one)! Also, I feel like in New York, there’s always a roommate who’s trying to become an actor/singer/dancer/DJ and is always disrupting everyone else with their practicing. Or maybe that’s just been my horrible experience.

  • Katrine Loris

    Honestly a little of all of them… Is that good or bad?

  • BK

    I’m unashamedly the clean one and yes, being honest, I have left notes in the past. But! In my defence, they were about the more essential things like TURN GAS STOVE OFF AFTER USE (because I used to come home and find it had been left on all day, gulp). Also in Berlin I had this gross French roommate who would block the toilet, like, three times a week, because he had this oddball habit of pulling off like half a roll of toilet paper and just leaving it in the toilet bowl after he’d flushed? So of course it clogged up the old German pipes and he was like “oh what? Moi?” When we told him to stop doing that. We had to leave a note taped to the toilet to remind him: FREDDY – NO EXTRA PAPER IN TOILET, MERCI

  • Carly

    I’d say I’m mostly the introvert, but when I came home to dirty shoe prints (not foot prints!) in our bathtub or a roommate left a huge, food-coated wok on our stove when she left for a two week trip, you better believe I became type A as fuck. Suppose it’s still passive aggressive if you send them Snaps of the mess instead of writing notes.

  • Basil

    I lived with someone (man I have so many stories) who was a combo of the person permanently on the couch, and passive aggressive note leaver, but without all the cleaning up. He was very, uh, special. He used to do very little cleaning but would leave notes EVERYWHERE with things like “the door doesn’t close quietly on its own”, “the recycling bin doesn’t empty itself” (on full recycling bin) and so on. One night I couldn’t take it any more – I came home from a work outing, very drunk and nearly fell over his stupid damn shoes that he always left strewn all over the hallway, so I cracked and wrote about 20 very random passive aggressive notes that I left all over the communal areas. The next morning the other flatmate (who was very nice actually) did an “are you ok hun?” kind of face and quietly avoided me for the rest of the week.
    Crazy roommate once left a BAG OF HIS HAIR in the living room for a week, in the middle of the floor. I still haven’t recovered.
    He didn’t have any bed linen (sheets / duvet covers) on his bed for about two years.
    So many stories … (including me suspecting that he was trying to buy a bride from Russia)

  • I think I was a weird mixture of all of these… I deffo left passive aggressive notes sometimes, I got fed up of always cleaning up after the others! After a few breakdowns though they started cleaning up! One of my first housemates was deffo the quirky one doing creative projects and cooking up yummy dishes, but wasn’t very tidy at all! I loved living with her though, living with someone creative made me spend more time being creative too 🙂

    Amber Love Blog

  • Leah P

    I guess I’m a serial killer:/

  • Caroline Chuang

    I’m the mysterious roommate – I think my being an anti-social roommate stems not only from being introverted, but also from an experience living with someone older and it being a sublet, I just kept to myself. But, it’s not really functional, because you kind of need to be a consistent communicator to establish a good roommate relationship. There’s bound to be issues that need to be brought up and discussed at some point and also you don’t talk to someone a lot and then go cold turkey being silent and reclusive. You need to establish a social presence, if that makes any sense. I think I’ve got to challenge myself to become a more competent communicator.

  • Sydney Stewart

    This is absolutely amazing!

  • Miranda Renée Horton

    I am the one who is friendly, and I know my chattiness and interest can be annoying (especially to introverts) but is it better to be taciturn and uncommunicative? I think not.