Lifestyle, On campus

Living With a Roommate Doesn’t Have to be Hard

The Maddox McCord resident hall is a temporary home for many students and their roommates. Photo by Elliot Payne.

Are you the Good or the Bad Roommate?

There are several benefits to sharing your living space with a roommate; saving on rent and utilities, sharing chores, using their Netflix account and having someone to talk to, but living with a stranger can have many issues. 

Maybe you`re rooming with a music major focusing on percussion, a nursing major that never sleeps, or that weird guy who collected animal bones, or perhaps that’s you. In the short years spent in college, it’s normal to be paired with strangers; you’re left awkwardly wondering how to approach decisions about what to keep the AC set to, how to split the grocery bill, or whose turn it is to clean the bathroom. You may wonder if you are a good roommate. So here are some basic rules to consider and keep the peace. 

You need to set boundaries and rules right away. The longer you wait to establish rules, the less likely these rules will ever work. If you decide to fight over the grocery bill after living together for six months, you`re going to create some drama. Drama is not what you want to bring to the table. Be aware that things will change, making boundaries change. As you get to know your roommate more, your own boundaries will change, as well as theirs. Be willing to discuss the change and find a way to see things through their eyes.

The infamous purple door and yellow frame from the hit 90s show “Friends”, the show follows a group of friends, family, and roommate. Photo provided by Warner Bros. Media.

Speaking of drama, leave your housemates out of yours. Some actions might warrant your reaction, but not always. Is it worth losing a roommate for small, petty actions? Probably not. It’s okay to offer advice, but its never a good idea to get involved in an argument between your roommate and their partners, family or friends. If a disagreement does turn into an argument, remember to be respectful. No matter how terrible they could be acting, it is not going to help to call them names. That’s not a proper communication method and will only make things messier. 

Imagine finishing a full laundry cycle only to discover that your roommate left their clothes in the dryer again. You don’t want to nag them, but you certainly don’t feel like folding anyone else`s tidy whities. Consider setting up scheduled laundry days, so you don’t have to scramble to find a clean shirt for work. The Golden Rule: Leave things better than how you found them. Make a chore list and stick to it; with more than one person in the home, germs will pile up quickly. You don’t want to have the same cold for months because you and your roommates are cycling germs. Keep your home clean. 

Be considerate when inviting guests over. This is your home, and you should be able to have friends over when you`d like, but this is also your roommate`s home. Be considerate of what they are comfortable with and remember that they may feel differently about some things or people as time passes. Differences in opinions will happen, and that’s okay. 

Something to remember that can be difficult to accept at the moment, not every roommate is meant to be your friend and not every friend is meant to be a roommate. Some people can share a friendship for years but realize they can`t live together within a week. Others may be complete opposites but are great pairs of roommates. You shouldn’t let this ruin friendships, but accept it and move forward.