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How to Tell Your Roommate You're Moving Out

by David Goguen
September 13, 2022

1. Reasons can help you prepare what to say

From personality clashes to lifestyle differences, it's super common to want to leave a less than desirable roommate situation. Identifying why exactly you want to move out can help you feel more confident in your decision, and it'll even help you feel more prepared when you bring up your plans to your roommate. Here are some common reasons people end up seeking out new living situations:

  • Cleanliness issues (i.e. one roommate is super clean and the other is messier)
  • Lifestyle differences (i.e. one roommate likes having friends over and the other likes keeping a quiet apartment)
  • Personality differences (i.e. both roommates find it difficult to get along with each other)
  • Wanting to live with a partner
  • Financial costs (i.e. no longer being able to afford the rent)
  • Relocating to a new city

2. Plan out your words in advance

Planning will help you feel more confident during the conversation. If you're nervous to tell your roommate, try brainstorming how you would like to deliver the news. This can help you find the right words to say so that you share your plans as respectfully as possible. Plus, you'll have some extra confidence going into the conversation if you already know what you're going to say. * Try writing out what you'd like to say to determine the right words. * Call up a trusted friend or family member to figure out what you want to say and practice your delivery.

3. The conversation in person and in private

Telling your roommate in private helps avoid putting them on the spot. Plus, it will allow you some privacy if the conversation gets emotional. To ensure the conversation goes as well as possible, pick a time when the two of you are both free of distractions. You might try when the two of you are eating dinner together at home or spending time in the living room.

  • Avoid letting your roommate know you're moving with a text. Your roommate will likely take the news much better if you let them know through a mature and direct conversation.

4. Give them at least 30 days notice

Giving notice will help your roommate find a new roomie in time. Though you might be tempted to put off this conversation, it's best to let your roommate know as soon as possible. That way, they'll have enough time to find a new roommate or look for a new place to live. In most locations, 30 days' notice or more will be enough time.

  • Make sure to give your landlord notice that you plan on moving. Read over your copy of the lease agreement to double-check how much notice they require, then provide your notice in written form (a letter or an e-mail will usually work).
  • You might consider giving your roommate more advance notice if you live in a competitive housing market or a bigger city (60-90 days' notice will be plenty of time).

5. Explain why you're moving out

Help your roommate understand your perspective. The news may be a shock to your roommate. Giving them a thoughtful reason can soften the blow and help them see your point of view. Just make sure you word your reasons carefully. Rather than going on a rant about all their flaws, emphasize your feelings and experience to avoid making your roommate feel defensive.

  • "I've really enjoyed living together, but I've decided that I'd like to move to a new place when the lease is up. This apartment is a little out of my price range, and I need to find a less expensive living arrangement."
  • "As much as I've loved living with you, I think I need a quieter environment. I've decided to move to a new place this summer. I hope you understand."
  • "You've been an incredible roommate, but my partner and I have decided to move in together. I'll be moving in 3 months when the lease is up." Keep the conversation polite and respectful. Your roommate might be surprised or hurt. Try to listen to what they have to say and understand their perspective while remaining firm in your decision. If you show your roommate that you're still there to support them, they may take things less personally.
  • Offer words of support like, "I totally understand that this may be a surprise" or "I get why you would be upset. I might be moving, but I'm still here for you."
  • Use I-statements to avoid making your roommate defensive. Instead of saying "I'm leaving because you never help clean the apartment," you might say, "I'd like to move because I do better in a cleaner environment."[5]
  • If they're really upset, consider giving them some alone time to cool off. You might excuse yourself by saying something like, "I'm going to be out for the afternoon, but I'm happy to talk about this again tomorrow."

6. Help them find a new roommate

If you're worried about how your roommate is going to take the news, offering to help can go a long way. Let them know that you would be happy to look for a new roommate to take your place. Even if you don't find someone, your roommate will appreciate the help. You might try:

  • Making a social media post to announce the open room
  • Asking your friends and family if they know anyone looking for a room
  • Helping your roommate post an ad on iROOMit