Living with roommates can be a great way to save money on the cost of rent, utilities and other housing necessities.
When you and your roommate get along, it can be fun to always have someone around to talk to and hang out with.
But it’s not always easy. Having a roommate–even someone who is a friend or loved one–requires a great deal of patience, compromise and understanding.
Dos For Living With A Roommate
When living with a roommate, do:
- Come up with a set of house rules together. Ideally before you move in together, sit down with your roommate and decide on the rules you’d both like each other to follow. Be willing to compromise and work together to figure out what’s important to you both. For example, if one person goes to bed early, you may decide to have a rule about noise after a certain time. If another sleeps in, you can create a rule against using loud appliances in the morning.
- Create chore lists and schedules. The best way to avoid any ongoing resentment or one person doing the majority of the housework is to create a chore calendar that clearly states which roommate is doing what and when. Hanging a white board calendar somewhere in your apartment that’s hard to miss, such as the kitchen, is a good way to help you both stay on track. Using checklists can also help you hold each other accountable.
- Ask your roommate before having people over. If you’re bringing a group to the house, it’s courteous to check with your roommate and make sure he or she doesn’t mind and didn’t have anything planned before showing up with a large group of people. And be conscious of having people over late if your roommate has to be up early in the morning or needs quiet time to study or work.
- Invest in earplugs and/or headphones. You’ll be much happier and more productive and sleep better, especially if you and your roommate have different schedules.
- Ask your roommate before borrowing or using any of their stuff. Unless it’s something that you’ve both agreed to share, don’t assume that your roommate is comfortable with you taking or using any of their possessions.
- Replace what you use or finish. Whether it’s the end of the milk, cleaning supplies or toilet paper, be sure to replenish whatever you’ve taken once you’ve finished with something. It’s extremely annoying to go to use something and find it empty or gone, and it’s easiest for the last person who used it to remember to replace it.
- Create shower schedules and learn each other’s routine. It can be tricky if you share a bathroom and need to get ready at the same time. Alternate who gets the first shower and have rules about the length of time spent getting ready in the bathroom if time is an issue.
- Talk to your roommate before decorating common spaces or making executive decisions about the apartment. Before you start moving furniture, painting walls or hanging artwork, you should sit down with your roommate and collectively decide how things will look and be set up.
- Keep common spaces tidy. Don’t leave your clothes, food or other items out in areas you and your roommate share, such as the living room or dining area. Avoid leaving food out in the kitchen to keep potential critters at bay.
Don’ts For Living With A Roommate
When living with a roommate, don’t:
- Leave passive aggressive notes around the house for your roommate. If you have an issue with a roommate, or they’re not pulling their weight in some way, sit down with them and have a conversation about it in person. That’s the best way to avoid misunderstandings and having words be misinterpreted. If your roommate and you have different schedules and can’t meet up, sending a polite email is the best way to get your point across.
- Play loud music when your roommate is home. Unless your roommate says it’s okay or you’re confident they can’t hear it, keep the volume down or use headphones.
- Make copies of your keys for friends, family or a significant other. This is an invasion of your roommate’s privacy. If you must give someone else your key for any period of time, make sure to check with your roommate and let them know if anyone else will be coming into the house.
- Leave the door unlocked or let guests leave it unlocked when they leave. Even if you don’t mind leaving the door open, it’s not fair to put your roommate’s possessions in danger of being taken or leave open the possibility of someone walking into the apartment.
- Eat your roommate’s food. This is a surefire way to annoy your roommate. Unless you’ve agreed to share groceries (and expenses), don’t eat food your roommate has specifically purchased for themselves. And definitely don’t eat their leftovers without explicit permission.
- Use all of the hot water up on your roommate or use a lot of water while they’re in the shower. If hot water is limited or you have low water pressure, be courteous and avoid taking long showers or doing dishes or laundry while your roommate is showering.
- Engage in lots of PDA with a significant other in common areas. Avoid being excessively affectionate in front of your roommate to reduce the chances of making them uncomfortable. If you have a significant other in your room, be polite by putting on light music so your roommate doesn’t have to hear you.
- Violate the terms of your rental agreement. This can result in you and your roommate potentially being kicked out of your apartment or losing your security deposit. Follow all of the rules set by your landlord or apartment community and make sure your roommate does the same. If they break any of the rules, politely let them know that you both could get in trouble, and if they won’t stop the behavior, have a conversation with your landlord about your options.
What tips do you have on living with a roommate? Have you had any bad experiences? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.