Living on your own for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially so when you’re doing it with strangers. There are plenty of “psycho roommate” horror stories to go around, but many of them occur because newcomers don’t follow these four simple rules:
1. Respect Personal Space
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In any situation with roommates who aren’t getting along, most of the time it’s because one person values their personal space and the other does not. Respecting boundaries until being invited in is key to keeping the harmony and gaining respect from the people you live with.
Tip: Don’t go into your roommates’ bedrooms without permission.
Tip: Ask to use their house supplies and kitchen wear before assuming it’s OK.
2. Establish A Cleaning Schedule
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At the heart of many roommate issues is the standard of cleanliness for your shared common spaces. Some people come from clinically sterile homes and want to keep it that way, and others come from a pigsty and see no problem with that. In either case, you have to come to an understanding with your roommates about the expectations for common space cleanliness. Then, you can hash out a schedule for who cleans what when. If you stick to it, everyone will do their fair share and disagreements can be avoided.
3. Establish House Rules
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Establishing a set of house rules on day one is especially important to avoid issues later on. If you are all new to living together, then you can all sit down and speak on what kind of environment would make each of you uncomfortable. If you’re the latest addition to the house, you may want to run through their pre-established house rules to make the transition seamless. Some girls prefer not to have their roommate’s boyfriend in their shared room, and others don’t want any loud noise past 10 pm, so definitely get acquainted with the house rules.
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Bonding isn’t something that happens most of the time, unfortunately. You can follow all the tips and live in harmony, but that does not mean you will necessarily become friends, and that’s OK too! Sometimes taking the next step to friendship can switch up the dynamic of the house which people prefer not to do. However, if you’re open to it, bonding with a roommate can be one of the best college experiences you can have! Suggest a movie night for the house so you can all blow off some steam then take it from there!
5. Learn To Communication Effectively
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No matter how much of a good idea you think passive-aggressive sticky notes are, do not start that. The war that ensues is nasty and better left to children. No one wants to come home from work or class to get scolded on a piece of paper instead of being talked to. Although it may be intimidating, clear communication is vital for keeping the peace. Remember, you aren’t behaving aggressively by merely stating your needs and correcting undesirable behavior. Most of the time, people do as they will without realizing they’re harming others. Staying silent will only do a disservice to yourself, so speak up as soon as you see those day-old dishes in the sink that you hate so much!
6. Label Your Food
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Coming home to that meal you have saved in your fridge after a long day and realizing someone ate it is infuriating. Establishing boundaries when it comes to the items in the refrigerator is critical. Starting a labeling system is a good idea for everyone to keep track of what’s off-limits and what you can share, like condiments. With that said, don’t be a grinch! As long as you’re not getting taken advantage of, let the little things go.
7. Exchange Phone Numbers
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Perhaps the most important on this list, exchanging numbers is extremely important. As much as you think you’re not the kind to lock yourself out, relax because it happens to everyone. Being able to send a text to roommates to keep the noise down or meet you at the bus stop if it’s gotten too dark to walk alone is so important.
8. Agree On Replenishing House Supplies
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Supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, and dish soap can go very quickly in a house full of people. Agreeing on pooling money together to regularly replenish supplies is essential. Some people feel better being in charge of their own supplies and keeping it separate. That’s OK too, but communicating that either way is vital.
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Living with roommates can single-handedly be the best thing ever or the worst thing ever. Whether you choose to share everything or hibernate in your room with your purchases holed away, keep in mind that your preferences can come off as unfriendly. However, going into the experience, not expecting anything, and being flexible is guaranteed to make you successful. Let us know about your own roommate experiences!