Living off-campus in your own apartment/condo/townhouse is one of the most exciting college student adventures. You actually start to feel like an adult! BUT (and it's a big one) there are several things to consider before making the big move, including these three major items.
First, when selecting potential roommate(s), prepare for the good, the bad, and the ugly. My biggest piece of advice is your freshmen "party" friends should NOT be your roommate(s); let me explain. There are some people you meet/talk to only when you go out, and you always have a great time! However, it might not always be a good time when you start having to have tough conversations about boundaries and the cleanliness of your shared space. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Some people may be receptive to criticism, and you yourself should be open to receiving some as well because, as I said, your college home will be a shared space, and all participating members should treat it like one.
Second, have a chores list or routine. College students can be dirty - point blank, period. Creating a structured cleaning routine is pertinent to having an open, smells-like-roses type of place where people want to come over and hang out. The issue of dishes is can be a major cause of roommate disagreements. How long is too long for dirty dishes to pile up in the sink? My roommates and I picked four major cleaning chores to take care of each week: dishes, sweeping/mopping (if needed), taking out the trash, and wiping down counters, stove, microwave, and common room area. We took one chore a week and rotated every Sunday. Some may be more heavy lifting than others, but by taking turns, everyone has to do it at some point. As for the dishes, we set the expectation that everyone should at least rinse their own dish because who wants to touch soggy and/or smelly leftovers. We built chores into a solid system and that is what worked best for us!
Heating and Cooling
Third, TALK ABOUT THE THERMOSTAT. It might seem silly, but this was legitimately an on-going issue with my roommates. It was either set at 60° or 75°, neither of which are great and can be costly, depending on the season. Remember, you and your roommates will probably be responsible for the heating and cooling bills, so thinking about energy saving/cost saving while also feeling comfortable is a little tough. We found the perfect temperature range was between 70° – 72° for most days. There were a few summer nights where we agreed to turn it a little cooler, but overall, we stuck with that range. It might sound like such a minute detail but trust me you do not want to come back to your apartment and be instantly sweating or shivering.
Overall, living in an apartment/house off-campus allowed me to grow A LOT. Learning to adjust how I live and function with other people in a shared space definitely helped me become the person I am today. Good luck on finding great roommates and a last tip would be try to find a night where you all can have a movie night or cooking night, anything to bond with your roommates and make the best out of it!
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