Going off to college is usually when most people start living with roommates. It’s a huge alteration to the life you are used to. Especially for single children, like me, who have never really had to share much of anything. As difficult as it was for me to adjust to this crazy new life with a college roommate, it was also equally fun. You may choose to live with your best friend. Or like a majority of people have college roommates who are practically strangers. Either way, you will not always live peacefully. Tensions can run high with regards to cleaning, food, money, etc. and a whole bunch of other things.
Today I want to share everything I have learned so far about living with roommates. These tips would definitely have come in handy for me when I left for college a year ago.
Make Communication Your Priority
Communication is one of the most important parts of any relationship. Even the one with your college roommate. Whether you live in a dorm room or an apartment, you will be sharing a space for a long time.
You need to remember that both of you might have different preferences. A healthy living arrangement comes only when these preferences are respected. So, ask questions and clear the air.
- You like to study while playing music, will it disturb her?
- You plan to party? How often? Is she okay with it?
- Will we share expenses on groceries?
Basically, ask whatever you might think is important. Choose to live with someone only if you find some semblance of balance. You don’t want to get stuck with someone you don’t get along with.
Make a Roommate Agreement
This might sound downright stupid, but trust me it can save you a lot of trouble. It serves as a more tangible version of the conversation you have before moving in. You can include more “rules” if you want to.
Sure, they are not legally binding, but it is a great way to keep both you and your roommate accountable. Especially about the everyday details that need to be managed.
- What appliances will we share? You may choose to share kitchen appliances like the refrigerator, blender, stove, etc.
- What can be borrowed? Clear the air about sharing or borrowing clothes, makeup, food, etc.
- Talk about “your space”. Do you mind if your roommate’s friends use your bed when you are not around? How clean do you like your space to be?
Be Honest With Your College Roommate
If there is something that bothers you, talk about it. Staying quiet about things that annoy you will only lead towards resentment. It’s best to sit down and talk when the problem is small. This way it will be easier to sort through them in a friendly manner. After all, she may not even know her actions are bothering you.
Do Your Part In Keeping The Space Clean
Don’t leave clothes all over the place. Don’t leave dirty dishes out. Help your roommate if she is trying to clean the place. You know the drill. It’s hardly fair if one person has to do a majority of the cleaning while the other only adds to the mess. It is ‘your’ place, both of yours. So make sure to help in keeping it clean.
There is no need to be extremely clean, of course. But helping with basic cleaning is a responsibility you should not skimp on. As obvious as it may seem, you’ll be surprised how many people do the very opposite. This leads to issues and arguments.
Respect Her Schedule
It’s important that you respect your roommate’s schedule. Regardless of whether you live in a tiny dorm room or a two bedroom apartment. If she has finals, avoid bringing in a bunch of friends to the party. Use your headphones when listening to music if you know she is trying to get to bed. It’s important to work around each other’s schedule in an attempt to make the living space feel like home.
It Belongs To Her
When you live together for so long, you are bound to share or borrow a few things. However, it doesn’t excuse you from asking before you decide to take or use anything that belongs to her.
Have you decided on sharing stuff? Great! However, there are limits to this as well. If you borrow her clothes, give it back, after you wash it. Don’t expect her to wash them if you wore them. Did she let you borrow her makeup once? That doesn’t give you the right to use it regularly and worse yet finish it all.
Remember, at the end of the day, your roommate’s stuff is your roommate’s stuff.
Be Courteous When Inviting People Over
You may thrive on socializing in huge groups, but that may be stressful for your roommate. You can, of course, bring friends over, but extend some courtesy when doing so.
If your roommate has to study, bringing in a bunch of friends may not be the best option. You can alternate who hits the library and who stays in the room to make it easier on both of you.
If you plan to throw a party, talk to your roommate and figure out the best day and time to invite everyone. Do not bombard her with guests when she is least expecting it.
Properly Manage Bills and Expenses
Want to know the fastest way to ruin a friendship? Money. Therefore, it’s important that everyone is responsible when it comes to shared expenses.
- Decide who is responsible for which bill. What I mean is let one of you keep a track of when the particular bill gets paid and make sure to make the payment. Make sure each of you contributes your share on time.
- Decide how you will split all the bills. Theoretically, bills should be split equally but is it always fair? If you are the only one who watches TV, should your roommate pay for the cable? If you leave for a two to three-week vacation, should you pay the electricity bill?
These questions may be hard to ask, but over a period of time, they become very important. Make sure you are clear about all money matters. You can also use bill management apps to make bill and expense management easier.
Be Proactive About Your Safety
It may not seem like much, but make sure you lock up after yourself. Don’t leave the doors and windows unlocked if you are leaving the room. How would you feel if your laptop got stolen because your roommate forgot to lock the doors? You may think you will only be gone for a minute, but that is long enough for things to start vanishing.
I can’t stress enough how important being responsible is. Protecting your and your roommate’s stuff is part of this responsibility.
You don’t have to be best friends or even friends with your college roommate. You only have to respect each other.
Those are all my tips about finding and living with a college roommate. If you any questions or have your own tips or stories please share them in the comments below.
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