Cohabiting: Surviving Roommates in University

Written by: Shannon Webb

Having a roommate when you move out of your parents’ home is generally a necessity due to rent and living costs.  You may think your experience living with your incessantly nagging parents and tagalong younger siblings will help you prepare for roommate life, but roommates are not your family and may not have the same manners and lifestyle you are used to.

If possible, talk to your roommate before moving in

Talking to your roommate(s) before you move in together gives you, and them, the opportunity to get to know one another and discuss important rules of the house. Communication is key to success when living with people, and sometimes even more important when you already know the people you are moving in with.  People often go
into a roommate arrangement with their own ideas and expectations without discussing them with the other people involved. This can be a disaster.

Define your own space

Even if your bedroom is small, make sure to keep it private and comfortable.  If you are spending time with your roommate(s), do so in the common living area so your bedroom remains your own space and your roommate doesn’t get comfortable just walking in.  This may not seem like a big deal, until s/he decides to enter your room when you aren’t present.  It happens, and it will annoy you.

Setup chores and bills charts

No one wants to clean toilets or vacuum the living room, but even the messiest people don’t want to live in a dirty home.  Creating the chart will take certain steps: decide what chores need to be done and how often (daily-dishes, weekly-vacuuming, monthly-toilets), make, or use a template for, a chore chart, claim the chores each roommate is responsible for (will this stay the same monthly, forever or change weekly?), and set dates for chores to be completed (numerical date, weekday or every certain number of days?).  Once you have this system in place, discuss what happens if one of you does not complete an assigned chore.

Similarly, organize who pays for what bills and common household items. There are helpful free apps, like Splitwise, that can help you divvy up the expenses simply.

These discussions now, make future, potentially frustrating, conversations easier to deal with.

Respect roommates’ space, food and personal items

Remember when your parents would repeat the saying, “treat others are you want to be
treated”?  Keep this in mind when living with other people.  If you finish a roll
of toilet paper, replace it.  If your roommate has a particular bag of cheesy delights that you are craving, ask them before diving in, and always replace them.
Don’t ever eat food, or use personal products (shampoo) that aren’t yours without asking first-it’s rude and inconsiderate.

Living with roommates can definitely be challenging, but there are also a lot of benefits- and you may end up making a friend or two in the meantime.  Be clear, respectful and communicate to keep your living situation pleasant.

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