Roommates are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re getting someone to split expenses with. On the other hand, you’re losing some of your freedom in your own living quarters. If you don’t approach the situation with the right attitude, roommates can quickly become a nightmare. It’s important to establish a few things from the beginning in order to ensure a peaceful future with your new buddies.
1. Who is Going to Do What?
Are you sharing chores, or is everyone responsible for themselves? Misunderstandings about who is supposed to do what is going to lead to a messy situation, both literally and figuratively. Make sure there are no misunderstandings. You might have to come up with some compromises, and those compromises might involve dishes sitting in the sink a little longer than one person is used to. As long as everyone knows what is supposed to happen and it’s actually getting done, things will be a lot less stressful.
2. Set Privacy Expectations
What things belong to you that you aren’t willing to share? Do you want everyone to stay away from your dresser? Is there one drawer in the bathroom that you don’t want anyone else to open? Say it now. If you’re all sharing WiFi to do schoolwork and download study materials, you might even want to use private connections. Some people like to keep to themselves more than others, and it’s important that everyone’s privacy expectations are being met.
3. Discuss Routines
Does someone work a night job? Does that mean they’ll be cooking dinner when they get home at 4 AM? Some parts of people’s routines can’t be helped, and you might need to bend a little bit to accommodate them. If one roommate likes to have friends over every Sunday night to watch their favorite show, it’s that person’s responsibility to get clearance from everyone else first.
4. Run a Volume Check, Adjust Accordingly
The volume check is one of the most important tests. How loud is the music coming from the bedroom? Is the living room TV on too loud? Check to make sure nobody else’s noise is going to disturb the other roommates. Write down what volume levels are acceptable when other people are sleeping or trying to study. You’ll argue less later on, and everyone can be more productive.
5. Have a “No Passive Aggressive Roommate” Rule
When someone is bothering someone else, you need to be able to discuss it immediately. By now, we’re all familiar with the trope of roommates leaving each other passive aggressive notes. Those notes only escalate the conflict. Make a promise to be direct but polite with each other from the beginning. Saying “Hey, this bothers me. How can we both be happy about fixing it?” the moment something comes up will fetch much better results than saying “I am going to strangle you if you ever look at me again.” Always keep the lines of communication open.
Roommates can be difficult to live with sometimes, even when you really enjoy their company. The most important thing to remember is that roommates aren’t forever. Enjoy the good times, and when inevitable bumps in the road pop up, remind yourself that they aren’t the end of the world.