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8 Rules for Roommates
Moving into a dorm or other student housings usually means living with a complete stranger in a space smaller than your childhood bedroom. This person may end up being your best friend or someone you are loath for the very core of your being. While hostility between roommates is sometimes due to simple personality clashes, it is usually the result of some easily preventable incident or bad habit. Here are eight of the most important rules for keeping peace between you and your roommate. These rules and anything else you feel strongly about should be clearly established as soon as you move in.
1). Don’t share food. Each roommate should have their own food in their own agreed-upon section of the fridge or cabinets. There are some exceptions to this rule (condiments, spices) but for the most part, sharing food is a bad idea. It is all too easy to finish off the last of the Pop Tarts and forgets to tell your roommate, which can lead to resentment. In addition, you want to avoid any situation in which one roommate feels like they are shouldering more of the financial burden; keeping food separate will help to ensure that one roommate isn't paying for more of the groceries. This isn't to suggest that you can’t cook together or share a meal, but make sure that the cost is more or less evenly split.
2). Divide household tasks. Depending on the situation, this may be a simple case of “You clean up your mess, I’ll clean up mine.” However, if there are certain chores, one roommate detests and the other doesn't mind, consider dividing up labor by the task. If you hate washing dishes but don’t mind cleaning the bathroom, offer to make that arrangement. The important thing is to arrive at a clear agreement early on and to stick to your part of it. Anyone who has to clean up after their roommate eventually becomes resentful.
3). Be aware of volume. Making too much noise is a great way to make an enemy out of your roommate. It is particularly important to be quiet when your roommate is trying to sleep, regardless of the hour. You may think that no one should be asleep before 10:00 pm on a Friday night, but that’s no excuse to wake them up. Be especially careful about inviting over friends without telling them that they need to keep it down.
4). Respect the private space. This is particularly important in a dormitory situation with a shared bedroom. Figure out exactly where your space ends and your roommate’s begins-there should be no ambiguity here. Then both roommates need to respect how the other manages their own space. If you are a neat freak, and your roommate decides to keep her side of the room a mess, that’s her business. As long as it doesn't become a hygienic issue, don’t try to control how your roommate manages her own space.
5). Establish alone time. Even the most social of people need some time to be alone. In a shared room or dorm, the best way to manage this is to just be aware of your roommate’s schedule. If you know she will be in Chem 101 at 10:00 every day, use that as an opportunity to have some time to yourself. If your schedules absolutely don’t allow for time alone in your place, just have an honest talk with your roommate. Odds are they will be equally aware of the need for privacy and will be OK with making themselves scarce every once in a while, provided you do the same.
6). Don’t hog the bathroom. Those of you with sibling know how fast someone can lose their cool over this issue. Even if you are lucky enough to live a dorm or apartment with en-suite bathrooms, you will probably have to share with your roommate. Take quick showers and don’t spend longer than necessary in the bathroom. If you are applying makeup or styling your hair, do it in your bedroom or sleeping area rather than the bathroom. If you know that your roommate has work or class earlier than you, consider being the bigger man and letting him go first.
7). Respect your roommate’s choices. This is another way of saying mind your own business. Let’s say, for example, that you disapprove of premarital sex. That is your right, but it shouldn't prevent your roommate from having someone spend the night if they choose. As long as it doesn't affect your own safety or security, it isn't your place to comment.
8). Speak up about problems. Even if you and your roommate become instant best friends, there will be issues. Since sharing a small space with another person is such a potentially volatile situation, it is important to address problems before they escalate. If you keep finding your roommate’s dirty socks everywhere, the correct response is to calmly and politely ask him to tidy up as per the agreement you established when you first moved in. What you DO NOT want to do is try to ignore it, clean up after him, or leave nasty notes. If your roommate asks you nicely to stop doing something, be an adult and listen.
For the vast majority of cases, these rules will keep you and your roommate happy with your living situation. There are some exceptions; we all know someone with a roommate from Hell story, but those are few and far between. Stick to these rules, and you’ll be able to make the very best out of living in a shoebox-sized dwelling with someone you just met.
Mon, 2011-08-01 22:57#2
These are all really good
These are all really good tips for getting along with roommates. Future students should keep in mind that although it might sound good financially to get a triple or quad room, but that means more roommates, which just means that the potential for problems is higher. Unless you are really pressed for cash, I recommend going with a double room. If you have a little extra money to spare, you can opt for a single room and avoid any possible roommate problems altogether. And remember, your RA is always available if things get out of hand.
Tue, 2011-08-16 19:34#4
Good points JamieS86. I wasn't that fortunate in the roomamte department. I kind of had a fall out with my roomate before the year ended. But, what would anyone do if their roommate's boyfrienf slept in every night and snored? It was a small dorm room and I couldn't sleep. I am not entirely proud of lashing out on both of them but it was finals week, I was sleep deprived and I did tolerate the whole thing for a semester. I know disagreements are bound to happen but they can be easily avoided by being a little curtious and showing a little respect. Also, I do want to emphazise again - Sharing food is very bad idea.
Thu, 2011-08-25 23:09#5
These are all really important things to remember when living with a roommate. The one word that kept popping up was "respect" which I believe is the number one key to a successful roommate experience. You must respect each other privacy, space, quite time, and personal belongings. As you mentioned, household chores should be divided up equally among all roommates and agreed upon so that everyone knows their responsibilities. Once everyone can agree on some ground rules and decides to play nice, then having a roommate can be a great experience. It is a chance to meet new people and can be a big financial help in some cases.
Fri, 2011-09-09 15:12#6
Not roomate material
The very first thing that is of the utmost importance, is knowing who you are and the type of person you are. Being absolutely positive you can maintain your grades while dealing with the added stress of extra people and things going on in your home is crucial to your success. Some people just plainly cannot live with others. Not necessarily because they can't get along with other people, but maybe because they cannot concentrate with others in the same vicinity. Or maybe the person has a weakness when it comes to saying no to friends when there is an invitation to party. these things all need to be considered before jumping in to having roomates.
Wed, 2011-09-14 21:38#7
Great tips! Another thing I
Great tips! Another thing I would mention is finding out the "visual sensibilities" of the other roommates. For example, I had a roommate who would keep her area clean, and of course all three of us had our own little areas, but if our areas were really, really messy, it definitely bothered her, even though it wasn't in her "space." It was just that whole environment of tension and messiness. So the visual expectations of the room are also something important to keep track of! Another source of tension in our room was who would do the dishes (as we had a small kichenette). Good to get that worked out. ;)
Tue, 2011-09-20 13:41#8
These are really good tips, most of which I do abide by. The only one I would question is #7. I'm not sure if you meant it this way, but I would absolutely not allow my roommate to have his significant other over to spend the night. It has nothing to do with morality. It's just weird. Me and my roommate generally get along pretty well. I'm a very laid back type that isn't bothered or offended easily. If you're like me, you'll never have much of a problem with getting along with roommates. The only thing that would really irk me would be if my roommate did drugs or got drunk in our dorm. But, I would hope that's not very common at my school.
Sat, 2011-09-24 17:51#9
Address problems early
Addressing problems with roomates is the key to success in dealing with issues. If you let things boil up inside, you could come off as passive aggressive and your roomate might not even know what he or she is doing wrong. Everyone has different quirks and habits...Your roomate could be doing something that really bothers you and not know it...for example, not cleaning up food that they eat. Rather than saying nothing, just address the issue and tell them outright that you would like them to clean up after they are done eating. The same rule goes for keeping the room clean in general. Some people are "cleaner" than others. For the most part, if you reasonably approach them and keep a cool head, you will have no issues and the problem will be resolved.
Sat, 2011-10-01 17:27#10
I would add to the top of this list the importance of choosing your roommate(s) wisely. When I was single and renting I had many different roommates over time, yet never had a single "roommate altercation" thanks to the fact I chose carefully those with whom I lived. You have to know yourself well enough to realize there are certain personalities you may be able to hang out with but who you should never live with; likewise, there are personalities with whom you are completely compatible. Many people have to learn this lesson the hard way, through trial and tribulation; there are few who just seem to subconsciously know when they meet the right roommate. I found the best way to help figure out if someone would be a good fit as a roommate was to come up with the top five most important, non-negotiable things that a roommate must do or possess (like personality traits, beliefs, cleanliness, etc). Once you have established your list, get to know your potential roommies and find out if your list coincides with theirs. Finding a good roommate can be a lot like finding a girlfriend or boyfriend, you need to go on a few "dates" before you can decide whether or not you're a good fit.
Sun, 2011-10-02 18:25#11
To add more on Fracesg points above, meeting with roomates prior to living with them is an excellent idea. After coming up with the list that francesg mentions above of the 5 must have traits that a roomate should posess, I would recommend taking them out for a drink or grabbing some food with the person so you can get to know them better. My current roomate and I just recently moved into a larger apartment and had to find three additional roomates. We took each one out to the bar with us prior to extending them an invitation to live with us. This allowed us to get to know them better and identify whether or not they met the criteria on our list