I remember the day I moved in with my college roommates. Two of them were people I went to high school with, and the other was a friend one of them made the year before. Four guys in a four-bed, four-bath apartment. Should be interesting.
I was so excited because the year before that, I was living alone in an apartment, and that got kind of lonely at times. So when my friend and I started talking about living together, I was thrilled. You know that quote from the Office when Andy talks about wishing he knew he was in the golden years before they were over? That’s how I felt when we all moved out. There’s just something awesome about coming home to a hustle of people cooking, doing homework, or playing video games that I miss. Roommates can either make your life a living hell or they can be your greatest friends. Luckily for me, mine was the latter. What were only friends when we first moved in, soon became brothers. But it took time for us to get used to each other.
Whether it’s with friends or randoms, the first time you live with roommates can be, well, an adjustment. I moved in with friends my sophomore year of college, and while I look back on the time and think of it fondly, I’d be lying if I said it started off perfectly. Most of our issues stemmed from misunderstandings and lack of communication. It’s a weird dynamic.
Roommates are a step up from friends and a step below siblings. If you get into a fight with a friend, you can take a few days to cool off, and with your sibling, you can get away with things that would otherwise land you in a cell. With a roommate, you can’t blow them off since you live with them, and you can’t get into a fistfight with them. With that said, there are a few things I wish I had known beforehand.
Rules to follow:
Don’t let things simmer. No one likes to come home from a long day of class and work only to have to deal with pent up passive aggression. Sit down and talk about what’s bothering you or the other person, figure it out, and move on.
You live with them now, so things shouldn’t be tense otherwise, you will be miserable.
Know your roommates
I don’t mean be best friends with them, even though that can be a plus. What I mean is know what bothers them and what they prioritize. I had one roommate who needed the kitchen to be spotless and another who needed quiet time to study. For me, that meant I needed to make sure that the dishes were clean and that I didn’t bother him when he was studying.
Split the chores up. For the love of all that is good, DO NOT be the roommate who does nothing to keep the apartment or dorm clean. Shared space is just that, shared space. If you want your room to be a mess, then so be it. Go all Tazmanian Devil up in there, but keep the shared spaces clean. Don’t leave a mess that others have to pick up for you. You’re an adult now. Mom isn’t there to pick up after you.
A few things…
Pay your bills on time!
If you have shared bills (rent, electric, water) or whatever it may be, pay them on time. No one likes to live with someone who can’t pull their own weight. Asking your roommates to spot you until you get paid is irresponsible. Sure, there are times where things happen, and you are short for cash, but it should never become a habit.
Chip in for shared supplies.
Cleaning supplies for the kitchen and living room don’t magically appear, and they sure aren’t cheap. If everyone chips in a few bucks every once in a while, there will always be a supply of paper towels, dish soap, and disinfectant wipes.
This is a conversation you should have on day 1. What other people use and what they can’t. The kitchen is a shared space, and food can make or break relationships, people. Can they use your stick of butter? It may seem like a weird conversation to have, but it’s better to get out ahead of it. My roommates and I were pretty generous with all of our stuff. Shared plates, pots, food, laundry detergent, and other stuff, but we always asked.
Living with roommates for the first time can be scary and exciting, especially if they are randoms. Some people have great experiences and some not so great, but things will work out if you go into it with some patience.
It takes a few weeks to get into a groove and growing pains that come along with it. But the biggest take-away is if something is bothering you, address it right away. Sure, it might be awkward at first, but it’s good practice on conflict resolution and compromise, and we could all use a little more practice when it comes to those two things.
What tips do you have on living with a roommate?