Advice Column – Dealing with roommates

22 January 2019

Abby Jadali

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Being a college student takes a lot out of your bank account, especially when you are no longer living at home. Many of us who choose not to live at home or cannot live at home probably do not have the funds necessary to live by ourselves, so we resort to living with roommates. Whether that be in the dorms, off-campus housing, an apartment or a house, there is a good chance that you now are living with someone new. Being someone who has lived with roommates since starting school three years ago, I can say that I have gone through a lot of trial and error with roommates and have been able to pick up a few tips and tricks.

  1. Do not think that just because you have been friends with this person, it will result in a good roommate situation. A lot of times we can be mistaken, thinking that just because we know someone, living with them will be just like hanging out with them. Everyone lives differently and some people, regardless of how close they are, will not be able to live together like they thought they would. I do not want to say that friends cannot live together, I am just saying that from personal experience, make sure there are ground rules and understandings before you take the plunge.
  2. Set rules for personal belongings. Make sure you make it aware if kitchen supplies are for everyone’s use or just for the person who bought them. Make it known if groceries are for everyone or just for the person who paid for it. With personal electronics like chargers, computers, tv’s, gaming systems, printers, etc., everyone needs to understands if they can just go ahead and use these things or if they have to ask if it is not theirs. And, for toiletries, if you share a bathroom, make it aware if you can use each other’s things or if you have to ask (I don’t recommend sharing toothbrushes). Basically, just because it is in your house, does not give you the right to use it, take it or eat it, if it is not yours.
  3. Set house rules for certain situations. Just because you pay rent or live in some place, does not mean that you can do whatever you want. If you like to party,  you should not be having parties without your roommates’ permission; if you are a musician, you should not be singing or playing music at all hours of the night or early in the morning. You need to remember that you do live with other people, and this is their private space just as much as it is yours. Of course, if certain things need to be done, make sure your roommates understand, but for most things, get their permission because chances are they will tell you its fine and either bare through it or make arrangements to not be home during that time.
  4. Set some cleaning rules so everyone is on board. You don’t need to have one person wash and another person dry the dishes like your parents had you do with your siblings, but you need to have some sort of standard for how to keep the house from looking and smelling awful. Maybe that means everyone washes their dishes after using them or they get washed off and put in the dishwasher immediately after use. It could mean that you and your roommates set up certain weeks or days that one of you will wipe down the counters, or sweep the floors. You can even make sure that everyone picks up after themselves at all times, either within one day or one week of leaving it out. However you want to do it honestly, just make sure that everyone is on board and keeping to their part.  

While there are many other factors that go into living with roommates, I believe that these four are important in keeping the relationship stable and grounding it right away. I know that so many of us leave our parents house to get away from rules, but without them, living with someone else would just be too hard. But don’t forget that roommates are a great way to meet new people and make lifelong friends. Make sure to go out with them and get to know them better because they could become an amazing addition to your life.