The Definitive Guide to Living with a Roommate

By: Alexis Walters | Aug 15 2019

Whether your college roommate is randomly selected, or your best friend, it’s naive to think that you’ll never have any conflict with them. In fact, conflicts can be more difficult to navigate when you’re living with a close friend. I’ve lived through both situations during college, so learn from my successes…and failures.

Reveal your pet peeves

Behaviors that may be normal for you growing up could be completely bizarre to your roomie. When sharing a space, it’s best to discuss any pet peeves or deal breakers up front. For example, if you go ballistic when people don’t take their shoes off in the house, or if you’re territorial about your leftovers, tell your roommate from the get-go so they don’t accidentally do something that sets you off.

Set expectations for visitors

 It’s not just your roommate you’ll have to learn to live with. It won’t be long until you or your roommate will want to invite over significant others, family, and/or friends. Before the first knock on the door, talk to your roommate about visitor expectations. Maybe talk over setting a frequency limit or curfew to ensure you’re not a constant third wheel to their partner. Do you expect certain possessions or spaces to be off limits for visitors? Again, air your expectations and boundaries early on to avoid awkward situations in the future.

Discuss finances

Sure, it might sound simple to split everything in half, or just pay for what you need or use. However, payment for shared utilities and products like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and pantry staples will eventually need to be considered. Make detailed plans for what costs you’ll cover, alternate, or split, so that you don’t run into an empty fridge or toilet paper roll.

Do your chores 

Whether you’re a clean freak or a slob, chances are you’ll have to adjust some of your cleaning habits to make sure your roommate is comfortable. If you’re a clean freak, covey your preferences, but don’t expect for your roommate to be as tidy as you. If you enjoy cleaning and prefer your space to be sparkling, you might need to do more without holding a grudge. Alternatively, if you’re a little messy, you may need to make more of an effort to respect the cleanliness of your shared spaces. Talk to your roommate about your typical cleaning routine and create a shared one to fit both of your needs.

Make time for yourself

When you’re living with a roommate, it can be hard to carve out alone time for yourself. While you may be able to plan for those moments around your roommate’s work or school schedule, make sure you have somewhere to go when you need some space. Disagreements can be less explosive if you take the opportunity to step away and cool off. Find your safe space, whether it’s your bed, the tub, or a neighborhood café, and go there when you need some room from your roommate.

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