Living with a roommate not only saves you lots of money on rent and utilities, but lifts your loneliness by giving you someone to hang out with and create memories with. However, if you’re not used to living with another person, the adjustment period can be a challenge.
What makes for a difficult roommate? Here are some of the most common complaints:
While some of these actions can stem from outright rudeness, often roommates have no idea they are annoying each other until tensions have already built too high. For example, you may have thought the coffee creamer was a common item while your roommate did not “sign up” to share it. Or perhaps your leisurely evening showers, which you thought were fine, have been leaving your roommate waiting outside with crossed legs, desperate to use the bathroom.
The good news is many roommate conflicts can be prevented at the outset with some intentional planning.
It’s worth devoting some time to the roommate search. After all, you’ll be spending the majority of your non-working hours with this person. Think through your schedule, commitments, and personality. Consider how another person’s lifestyle may impact your daily life. Do they work nights and require total quiet to sleep during the day? Are they party animals who love to entertain? How does their definition of “neat” compare to yours? (There’s definitely a spectrum!) Be patient, take your time, and interview potential roommates before jumping to a commitment.
We know this can feel awkward. You’ve just met this person and can’t imagine fighting with them later. Why set boundaries you don’t even need yet?
That’s exactly why you do it! By agreeing early to set boundaries about bills, shopping, noise, guests, personal space, and so forth, you get everything out on the table and stop potential future misunderstandings in their tracks. By agreeing early on to be upfront about your desires and concerns, you don’t have to worry about unspoken resentment or potential explosions later. Agree to be open and honest about your expectations and to make room for frank, non-emotional conversation when challenges arise. Better yet, set aside time for a brief, weekly “state of the apartment” meeting so you have a designated, judgment-free time to discuss concerns.
Once you start sharing expectations, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. What will you do six months from now when the two of you need to discuss summer thermostat temperatures? Did your roommate really say they’d pay for the internet if you covered electric? Life gets busy, and it can be hard to remember conversations and agreements. With a contract, each person can outline their desires in a given situation so that if and when that situation arises, you can act accordingly with no confusion, hard feelings, or surprises.
Choosing and keeping a good roommate (and being one yourself) is a commitment. The more time you put into the process upfront, the more you’ll experience a smooth, respectful, and fun-loving living situation you’ll remember fondly for years to come.
Ready to find an apartment? View our floor plans to make the best decision for you and your roommate.