When the word “roommate” comes to mind, a positive association doesn’t always come with it. And it’s totally understandable why. Many of us have had at least one not-so-great experience with a roommate. Luckily, I’m in a great situation now, but I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way.
I mean, when I think about it, it makes sense that this is a popular question/topic because it’s so relevant to nearly all of us at some stage of our lives. It’s sort of one of those #adulting things that people don’t really prepare you for; or at least, I wasn’t totally ready for it. And I feel like there are some unwritten rules that aren’t always explicitly stated too? It’s just different living with people that aren’t your family; there’s certainly a learning curve. And sometimes the sheer logistics of doing life *well* with other humans is hard; like figuring out how to confront conflict with grace, communicate hard things, or deal with personality differences.
What I’ve learned + tips for how to be a good roommate.
Whether it’s a friend or a stranger, living with a new roommate is always a little risky – no matter how well you *think* you know them. I also want to extend this topic to living with your significant other also because I think it’s important to touch on. You are literally sharing a home and your personal space with that person. And people are very different when you experience them occasionally and when you LIVE with them, you know? I mean, obviously. But sometimes we learn the hard way #amiright?!
If it’s a stranger, will you like this person, trust them, and vibe well? If it’s a friend, is living together going to change your dynamic and ruin your friendship? If it is your boyfriend or girlfriend, will it last this big change?
I’ve learned a few things along the way to make for a more positive experience, although there’s still much room for improvement there as well! But even still, I’ve gone away to University and had a roommate and I’ve also lived with boyfriends in the past. Needless to say, I’ve learned a little bit about living with people. Here are some of my tips on how to be a good roommate:
Honestly, a heck of a lot of issues in life could be avoided if people were just more straightforward with themselves AND others about what they expect. Think about it. Almost all frustrations in life arise from some sort of misalignment between expectations and reality. Sometimes we don’t even know what we expect until we get frustrated about it not being what we want. When living with other people, it’s super important to get all this out in the open, have the conversation, and try not to assume that your idea of “common manners” is the same as someone else. If you have a particular pet peeve – like dishes in the sink – then let your roomies know, so that they can be respectful of that. I know that I for one literally cannot stand dishes in the sink no matter what and I will lose a gasket if I reach for something in the cupboard only to find you’ve put the box back empty! Like, can you not?
You can make it as casual or formal as you want, but create the space or time to have a conversation about expectations. And talk about who will clean what and when, each of your pet peeves, bill deadlines, laundry schedules, things that matter to you, and so on. Have a roomie pizza night, grab some wine, a pen and paper, and hash it out. It can be fun and will be a great bonding experience that will make your overall living arrangement better anyway. And honestly, it wouldn’t hurt to have this conversation every so often too in order to touch base – you definitely don’t want things to build up!
I personally think it’s a great tool or even just a starting point if you want to make a “roomie agreement” yourself!
Keep common areas clean.
This goes without saying, but none of us actually enjoy living in messy or dirty spaces (at least nobody I know does!). It’s so much different when you live alone – if you don’t feel like taking your clothes out of the dryer, you’re not really impacting anyone else’s day. But coming home late to a dirty house– and a mess someone else made – isn’t exactly ideal. When you live with others, it’s important to keep the common areas clean. That includes keeping any clutter off the couch and dining room table, too! (I am guilty of using our dinning room table as a drop done for things but I am working on it)
Respect each other’s space.
My roommate in University didn’t quite understand the concept of personal space. Both physically – like barging into my area– and emotionally – like wanting to have wine nights every night or talking 24/7, if you know what I mean. Yes, living with roommates has its perks – like having someone to hang with, someone to help with the bills, or someone to laugh with. But there are those days – and we all have them, where you just want some alone time – those days you don’t really feel like talking or hanging out with anybody. And that’s totally fine! It’s healthy and important to have alone time, so try to respect each other’s personal space, and don’t expect your roommate to want to hang out with you every night just because you live together.
Split costs for common household expenses.
I mentioned this a bit when talking about setting expectations, but I think it’s worth mentioning again on its own. Regardless of the living situation you’ve got, there will always be a few common household items and cleaning supplies that will benefit everyone living in the apartment/home and it makes sense to discuss how costs will be divided among everyone. There are a number of different ways to split these up, the key is just making sure you have the conversation and setting some sort of system up. We buy most of our supplies in bulk at Costco so that we can deal with these costs on more of a “macro” level. I prefer to just keep track of who bought paper towels last time and have someone else purchase it the next time instead of making an ordeal about it.
Maybe it is just me but I also feel that if one of your roommate happen to own the home, they should be responsible for purchasing the vacuum, mop, broom, dustpan, and things like that. Does anyone else think this way? I mean, if you move out you aren’t going to take a vacuum with you…are you?
Learn to compromise.
I first learned how important it is to compromise after living with a roommate that had a completely different style than mine. I wanted to decorate our space one way, and they wanted to give it a completely different look. Obviously, we needed to come to terms with the fact that we both couldn’t have each room look exactly as we’d envisioned it. That’s where compromise came in – I realized that in order to be a good roommate, I couldn’t expect to have things my way or the highway. We split up the decorating and had a cool mix of different decor in each of the common spaces, which actually turned out to look pretty great.
As with all relationships, communication is the key to a healthy one. When I was living in a dorm at University, there was one dorm mate that really only had females in her family and was so used to borrowing their clothes that she didn’t even think twice to ask before she borrowed mine. I remember feeling so frustrated when I saw her in one of my tops – I honestly wouldn’t have cared if she’d asked me to borrow it, but it was the fact that she didn’t even ask that bothered me. Since we all come from different backgrounds, it’s SO important to communicate with each other. You’ll avoid a ton of unnecessary awkwardness if you do, trust me!
Any tips on living with roommates from you guys? Any entertaining horror stories?! But for real, I hope these help – and should!
Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog