The Dos and Don’ts of Living with Roommates

The Dos and Don’ts of Living with Roommates


Photo: Scott Cook/Rollins College via Flickr

So you’re moving out of your childhood home for the first time and are living with someone you’ve never met before, freaking out because you don’t know how things will pan out. I know it seems daunting to have to be paired up with a random stranger and live with them for the school year, but I’ve done it, more than once. If I can do it, you can certainly get through it too.

I am by no means an expert on living with roommates nor do I think I am the perfect roommate, but between the six roommates I’ve had, and growing up in a household with three other girls, I’ve learned a lot about the art of compromising to have order, harmony and nearly no arguments under one roof. Let me try and help you out so your living situation is the least of your worries.

1. Communication 
When you pair up strangers or friends together in one household, there will always be minor things that you won’t agree on; you’re all different people with different opinions. The important thing is to solve these issues by talking it out and saying how you feel. 

Do: Bring it up in person, but be sure that before you approach them, you are calm and collected and that you can explain how you feel clearly. 
Send them a text message or leave notes. It might not convey the message the way you want it to and instead come across as passive aggressive. This will only aggravate the situation.

2. Paying Bills/Handling Money
Money is always a hard issue to bring up in conversation, but it’s something you will need to deal with when living with roomies. Depending on where you live, you will have to discuss dividing and paying rent and utility bills. As college students, we are always ballin’ on a budget, so sometimes our roomies need us to spot them some cash.

Do: Decide on and be clear on how you will divide and pay all the bills. If you are paying for a roommate, whether it’s dinner or part of the bills, be sure to tell them if you are expecting that money to be returned to you.

Leave your roommates hanging by not paying your part of the bill or your rent. If you have problems coming up with your share, your best bet is to tell your roommate(s) so that you all can figure out how to pay the missing part of the bill. Not paying bills on time or not paying them at all will not only strain your relationship, but it can have serious consequences that will affect you and your roomies.

3. Respecting Privacy and Property
Living with roommates means you might have to sacrifice some of your privacy, and other people will have access to your belongings. On the plus side of that, you always have people to hang out with and someone to borrow clothes from. Be mindful though, there is a fine line between being comfortable and disregarding other people’s privacy and ownership. 

Do: Ask permission if you want to take something.  It might be redundant to always ask, but it is polite and it lets your roommate know that you respect him/her and their belongings. 
Take their things without letting them know. No matter how close your relationship is to that person, or how often you are allowed to borrow their stuff, there will be issues if they can’t find the shirt you’ve borrowed when they want to wear it.

4. Maintaining Your Space/Cleanliness
Being in college means that you are always busy, almost always stressed and rarely have time to make the bed or do the dishes, but you will have to make time for it; you’re eventually going to need clean clothes to wear and clean dishes for your food. 

Do: It might be a good idea to divide the chores between you and your roommate(s). You’ll have to do your own laundry and wash your own dishes, but some things, like vacuuming and cleaning the restroom, you can take turns doing. Regardless of what you decide, just do it.

Be the one roommate that never does what they are supposed to do. If all your other roommate(s) are cleaning their dishes, do yours too. It can keep the unnecessary tension to a minimum. Besides you’ll feel a lot better knowing that your living area is clean.

These are just a few of the things you can do to make living with roommates a little less stressful. Keep in mind that each living situation is different; what works for me and my roommates might not work for you and yours. But give some of these a try and tell me how it went by tagging @asicpp and #CampusCropChat when you post on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.