Whether your messy current roommate is grating on your nerves, you’re searching for a new roommate, or you’re asking yourself, “Is having roommates a good idea in the first place?”, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to sharing a home. From learning what to look for in a potential housemate to creating a chore chart for shared spaces, here are our best tips for living with roommates.
Roommate Living: How to Make the Most of It
1. Know what to look for in a roommate, and ask plenty of questions.
Living in harmony with roommates starts long before move-in day. Whether you’re hoping to bunk with your best friend or searching for a potential short-term roommate in a new city, you’ll need to look beyond a surface-level personality fit and dig deeper. Ask many logistical questions (some may be tough!) before choosing a roommate and committing to an apartment. Here are a few examples to get you started – and ensure you can answer them, too:
- What kind of noise levels do you expect in a living arrangement?
- How do you think shared spaces (particularly a shared bathroom, the living room, and the kitchen) should be maintained, cleaned, or tidied up? How often should those things realistically happen, and who should do them?
- Do you plan to have house guests? What about overnight guests? How do you feel about me having guests?
- Do you want to share cooking responsibilities? How will we divide those, and how will we divide grocery costs?
- What neighborhoods would you want to live in? Are there any parts of town you aren’t willing to live in?
- How do you handle conflict? How do you expect me to handle conflict?
Of course, you should ask about anything important to you, like pets or parties. You may not agree on everything, but you’ll likely find some areas where you and your roommate can compromise or set boundaries as needed.
2. Create a roommate agreement.
What is a roommate agreement, and why do I need one? Whether you found your perfect roommate or hope to improve your relationship with your existing ones, setting some expectations (and putting them in writing) can be a huge help.
Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Similarly, good ground rules make good roommates! Before you commit to moving in with someone (or after the fact, if you’re already living together), sit down with your roommates— face-to-face, if possible— and get clear on everyone’s expectations of each other. Make sure you bring a few roommate rule ideas to the table, and give everyone a heads up beforehand so they can prepare, too.
Write everything down, and once you all agree, print out your roommate agreement. Sign it, date it, and hang it on the fridge or in a shared living space as a reminder of how you’ve chosen to respect one another while sharing housing.
It may seem like overkill, but setting aside intentional time for you and your roommates to get on the same page can help everyone feel comfortable in your home. Plus, you never know: your roommate could’ve been bothered by the same issues you’ve been thinking about, and they were waiting for the right opportunity to bring it up!
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Communication is critical to successfully sharing a room or living space if you’re already living with your roommate. You may not always agree with them, and that’s okay! But when you need to work out an issue or talk about something that’s bothering you, here are a few things to remember:
- Use “I” statements to help diffuse tension. Instead of starting your conversations with “You didn’t change the toilet paper,” try phrasing things with “I” to keep your roommate from going immediately on the defensive. For example, “I noticed the toilet paper was empty. Would you mind changing it next time you use the last of a roll?”
- Don’t let problems fester. Whenever possible, address issues as soon as they arise. The longer you ruminate on something your roommate said or did (or didn’t do), the more your resentment and anger can grow to disproportionate levels. To avoid losing your head, try to converse with your roommate within 24-48 hours of the incident. And if your anger feels raw, wait until you’re in a better headspace to confront your roommate, which brings up our next point.
- Be clear, kind, and compassionate. Kindness and perspective can go a long way in reaching mutual understanding even if you hate your roommate. It’s easy to talk at someone when you’re upset, but check yourself before spilling out angry remarks you can’t take back. You may even want to write down what you’d like to say, and ask a friend for feedback on your plan if your roommate issue is weighty. Additionally, try to listen to your roommate carefully. Always ask clarifying questions, and don’t interrupt as your roommate shares. Even if you can’t agree, trying to understand their perspective is much less likely to end in massive turmoil than assuming or jumping to conclusions would be.
Living With Roommates: Keep an Open Mind
You can’t change your roommate’s behavior. But you can change your mindset. If you can’t get past something with your roommate, consider looking for a compromise or asking a trusted friend for an outside perspective. A stubborn roommate doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship; it could force you to think creatively. And, after all, isn’t creative problem-solving an excellent life skill? Living with roommates can be frustrating, but it can also be an opportunity to grow and learn new relationship skills you’ll carry into your future.
How to Live With Roommates, Or Not
If you have reached the point where you are considering moving out of your current apartment because of an incompatible roommate, it may be time to start looking for a new place to live. Fortunately, ApartmentSearch can help you find a new apartment that meets your specific criteria.
By using ApartmentSearch, you can browse through a variety of options that fit your budget, location preferences, and other needs. Plus, by moving to a new apartment, you can enjoy a fresh start and leave any negative experiences with your current roommate behind. So why wait? Head over to ApartmentSearch and start exploring your options today!