(This the first post in our Roommate Rules series. Be sure to check out the second and third posts, too, for more great advice for a successful roommate relationship!)
Roommate relationships vary from person to person, but it is safe to say that your relationship with your roommate often shapes your college experience in one way or another. Whether you and your roommate are best friends, constantly tied at the hip, or you barely speak to one another, these interactions (or lack thereof) can have a lasting impact on your happiness and success during college and beyond. When it comes to roommates, my experiences have taught me a lot about myself – both the good and the not-so-good. Finding out your roommate stays up all night, and sleeps during the day is crazy; conversations about that pile of dirty dishes in the sink can be tricky. However, everyone aims to live in harmony in one way or another, and with these quick tips and tricks and a little bit of communication, you can make your living situation feel like heaven.
Set rules and expectations first!
To prevent any major complications down the road, it is important to set some boundaries. This starts on move-in day. Make sure you discuss who gets what bed, closet, towel hooks, drawers, etc., so that the distribution of different amenities is equal. The worst thing you can do is to claim something as yours without talking to your roommate first. Having an open discussion about what your preferences are and what you would be willing to compromise on will give you a great start to your year.
Depending on whether you have multiple roommates or just one, you can go about this differently. With one roommate, an open conversation about expectations can help you get on the same page concerning things such as chores, guests, quiet hours, and cleanliness. Creating a roommate contract is perfect for setting rules and sticking to them. Editing and revising the contract each semester can be useful in updating and adapting to each of your expectations. A fun way to set expectations with multiple roommates is to have each roommate write down their own ideas and then compare lists. Recognize which you have in common and add them to your roommate contract!
You don’t have to be best friends
Becoming instant best friends with your roommate feels great in the moment, but in my experience it prevented me from going out of my comfort zone and meeting different types of people. I spent so much time with my roommate that I missed out expanding my own social circle. Break out on your own a few times a week; you’ll find new interests and passions. This is especially true during your first year of college or when you move to a new city; you’ll want to make time to explore different places and groups of people. I’m not saying that you can’t be best friends with your roommate – just remember to make time for other friends and activities.
Create a connection
Even if you don’t end up as best friends, or even “kinda friends” with your roommate, everyone should feel comfortable in their own home! Having a fun tradition with your roommates can bring you all together and create a cozy environment. Activities such as Sunday morning coffee, baking cookies on Friday night, or a specified cleaning & music day can help you all stay connected. Last year, my roommates and I got together every night at 9:45 PM to dance to our favorite song and relieve some stress from our day. It really helped us connect with each other, talk about anything that had been bugging us that day, and end the day on a good note.
Keep it clean and constructive
Find some fun ways to spice up chore assignments. My roommates and I used a classic chore chart matrix rotating who did what chore every week. “Saturday Morning Cleaning Concerts” were also very popular in our apartment. Every other Saturday morning, my roommates and I would wake up to deep-clean our kitchen and common area of the apartment while listening to our favorite songs and dancing!
Living with 3 other people can get frustrating at times, and in order to prevent arguments and unhealthy conflict, we set up a jar in our living room to write out anonymous requests and constructive criticism. This way, we could discuss the issues that may be bothering one or more members of the apartment.