It is not easy navigating your apartment or house with family, let alone roommates. Often you are coming together to share expenses and don’t necessarily have anything in common. Here are some practical tips to survive living with a roommate:
- Make a Contract: Most roommate problems stem from not outlining things at the beginning. For example, who will take care of paying rent to the landlord, who will take care of utilities, what are the quiet hours, who will clean the kitchen and how will you share the common living area space? Take the time over lunch or coffee to outline everything and put in writing. Make sure both of you have a signed copy. This will take care of conflict in the future over many issues.
- Act Fast. Don’t let problems spiral out of control. Instead, address your conflict early on. While problems are small, it is easy to communicate and fix. Once you allow your roommate to keep taking your food or make messes, it will become a pattern that is harder to solve.
- Respect Boundaries. It seems obvious, but your stuff is your stuff and your roommate’s stuff is your roommate’s stuff. Don’t take his/her stamps for your mail; don’t use his/her butter to always cook your meals. These are the small issues that can easily become big and make you both resent each other.
- Err on the Side of Caution. Don’t assume you can have friends over whenever you please. Instead, ask permission from your roommate so that he or she doesn’t get blindsided by a group of loud friends when he or she is trying to study or sleep.
- Lock the Door. You wouldn’t want to come home to find out that your roommate just ran to laundry room for a second and left door unlocked which allowed a thief to come in and take your laptop and television– so ALWAYS lock the door and make sure your roommate does as well.
- Be Open-Minded. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate and that is just fine. However, mutual respect is a good thing and will help both of you through the process of living harmoniously. Keep and open mind about his or her habits, culture and background and this skill will reward you with different experience and provide peace in your living arrangement.