You have just found a couple of roommates and are ready to move in to your new home. However, if this is your first time living on your own, it might seem a bit strange if you are rooming with people you do not know that well. Whatever the case may be, here are 10 tips for you!
Set your ground rules early and listen to their requests
Talking to your roommate about issues like cleaning schedules, the cost of rent, and grocery shopping can be a little awkward, especially when you still don’t know them very well yet. But setting ground rules is essential for making your living experience manageable. For example, if you aren’t comfortable having alcohol in the room, tell them right away. If you feel like you have a lot of differences, you can even create a roommate contract to make sure that both of your preferences are being met.
- Clean up after yourself.
Nobody likes to live in a room littered with dirty dishes, overflowing garbage cans, or laundry all over the floor. It’s totally understandable to put off washing your dishes when you have a huge exam the next day, but make sure your mess doesn’t stay there too long. Not only can it be annoying for your roommate, but it’s kind of gross, too! The key to keeping clean is getting into good habits early on. At the start of the school year, put all your laundry in a hamper—not on the floor. Get used to washing each dish after you use it and taking the trash out every week. If you start off your cleaning habits early, it won’t seem too hard to keep it up during the rest of the year.
Also, if you clean your side of the room regularly, your roommate might follow your lead. This way, your roommate might take notice of how much cleaning you do and follow suit. But if they don’t, remember to talk it out with them directly yet politely—don’t be a passive-aggressive note writer! Let them know that you’d like to split up the chores evenly and create a cleaning schedule.
- Respect your roommates’ privacy.
While it might sound like a no-brainer, don’t borrow your roommate’s stuff without asking! As you get to know your roommate better, you might start sharing food or other things if you feel comfortable. But until you talk about it, borrowing their stuff is off-limits. Using her stapler once or twice won’t be a big deal. However, eating their food, taking their school supplies, etc., is a no-no!
Also, don’t go through your roommate’s stuff, no matter how harmless it may seem. Getting privacy is hard enough while sharing a room, so don’t snoop on your roommate! Just be aware that if your roommate did that to you, you’d be upset, too.
- Try to Bond with your Roommate At the beginning of the year, it can be hard to tell if you and your roommate will really click as friends. Make it easier by trying to form a relationship right off the bat. Plan to go to some on-campus events together during the first week of school to get to know each other and find out what you have in common. Discovering that you both love the same music or want to join the same intramural team can help the two of you develop a friendly relationship early on!
- Keep your stuff on your side/room. If you are sharing a room with someone, you should probably set it up in a way that all your furniture is on one side of the room, and your roommate’s is on the other. Keeping track of your stuff and maintaining your privacy can be a lot easier if each of you claims one section of the room. Contain your stuff to the furniture on your side of the room; don’t let your belongings wander onto your roommate’s turf. Not only will you be able to keep track of your things more easily that way, but you’ll also avoid annoying your roomie.
- Respect your roommate’s sleep and study habits.
Everyone does homework differently. Some people have no problem studying with lots of noise, while others need total silence. Ask your roommate what time of day they like to study and if they need total silence to do it or can stand some noise. Then, help them out when they are hitting the books by accommodating their needs.If you need silence when studying but your roomie is used to music, just ask them to put headphones in. Alternatively, find a new place to study, like the living room or a nearby library.
Similarly, be quiet when they are sleeping, whether it’s at night or during the day. Avoid having friends over late at night if your roommate goes to bed early, and don’t invite people over when they are trying to rest. This applies in the morning, too. If their classes start later than yours, let them sleep in the morning by getting ready in the bathroom so you don’t wake them up with light or sound. Tiptoe around the room, and don’t let the door slam on your way out! Talking over these things at the beginning of the year can help you plan your schedule, keep things balanced, and keep up a good relationship with your roomie.
Be reasonable about guests.
You and your roommate should both be allowed to have guests over (if your landlord is ok with it), whether just to hang out or to spend the night. To avoid drama, text or talk to your roommate ahead of time to see if they are okay with you having guests over. Have your visitors over at a reasonable time—not when your roomie is going to bed or studying for a major test. If you have guests over a lot, check in with them once in a while and make sure they are still comfortable with you having people over so often. Similarly, be respectful of their guests—your roommate entitled to have people over, too! It’s nice to give your roomie some privacy.
- If you break or lose their stuff, speak up!
Accidents happen, and the least you can do is offer to fix the problem. If you break or lose something of theirs, tell your roommate as soon as possible—it’s better than them wondering what happened or finding out from someone else. Then, offer to replace their belongings.
On the other hand, if they break or lose something of yours, remember that they are human! It’s also totally reasonable to ask them to replace it for you. Remember to choose your battles and to not sweat the small stuff. After all, you have to live with them for as long as the lease says!
- Don’t act like you own the place It’s as much your roommate’s room as it is yours. Before making big decisions for the room—like moving around the furniture—consult with your roomie first and find a compromise that suits both of your needs. When you’re in the room alone, you should usually assume that your roommate will be back soon. It’s their room, too, so you never know when they might walk through the door! Not only will this save you some embarrassment, but it will also ensure that your roommate feels comfortable in her own room.
Now that you’re in college, you’re expected to act like an adult. So, when there’s a conflict between you and your roommate, be mature and calmly start a conversation about it—don’t be passive-aggressive. We suggest being upfront to solve problems rather than avoiding a face-to-face talk, leaving written messages, or confronting your roomie via text.
At the end of the day, living with a roommate is tough. But you can make the whole journey a little easier by striving to be the best roommate around! In general, treating your roommate as you’d want her to treat you is a good rule of thumb. Have a great semester!