Living with people takes skill and patience. It’s one of those things everyone should do at least once to learn life lessons that may not be learned otherwise. You’ll form life long bonds (or disdain) for the people you room with. Sadly, there isn’t a magical silver bullet to a successful roommate relationship. It’s one of those things that take time, effort and lots of work.
To avoid uncomfortable situations while sharing living space with someone, use these 10 tips to make your living experience easier to manage.
1.) Don’t try to be best friends – Just because you live with someone doesn’t mean you need to be BFFs. Spend time getting to know your roommate, and be conscious about including them in activities, but don’t smother each other. Spending too much time together can get old fast and destroy the relationship.
2.) Set boundaries – The first thing you should do with your roommate is talk about boundaries and roles. If it doesn’t feel awkward, you can create and sign a roommate contract that agrees on the housing basics. List out how many sleepovers can happen a week, what the apartment temperature will be, bill payment dates, parking, etc. This isn’t a comfortable conversation, but it’s something that needs to happen.
3.) Know your roommates definition of “clean” - Talk to each roommate about their personal definition of clean. Make sure everyone agrees on what the “clean state” of the apartment is, and put it in your roommate contract.
4.) Talk it out – If something comes up that bothers you call it out right away. Letting yourself fester in your anger is bad for everyone, and it always comes out in one way or another.
5.) Be responsible for bills, no matter whose name is on it – Using Splitwise to track household expenses is a good start. Make sure you know those bills are actually getting paid by asking the bill owner to show you the monthly statement on a regular basis. There is nothing worse than finding out your electric bill hasn’t been getting paid by having it unexpectedly shut off.
6.) Meet regularly - Try to have a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly meeting to catch up on household issues. If everyone is too busy to meet in person use the phone, IM or Skype instead. Email tends to start fights – it can get passive aggressive really easily.
7.) If you don’t know, ask – Don’t assume that things you’re OK with is cool for everyone. Some people are fine with condiments being a shared property but plenty of others out there are not. Don’t make any assumptions and ask up front. The worst than can happen is they tell you to stop asking so many questions and give you carte blanche do whatever you want.
8.) Buy your own stuff - Some people assume if you’re splitting bills, then you’re splitting everything. Not true! Make sure that when moving in you have your own towels, cleaning supplies, hangers, etc. If you’re splitting big-ticket items then split them down the middle, and use our furniture calculator when you move out to find out it’s value.
9.) Keep an open mind – People come from different places, which means that cultural differences will happen. Take advantage of these differences to learn or try something new.
10.) Offer alone time - This is huge. Find out your roommates schedule and offer to give them some alone time, and ask the same back. There is nothing like hanging around your place un-showered in your underwear, but your roommate may not want to see it. Save that underpants party for your weekly block of alone time.
Some of these solutions are obvious to having a good roommate relationship, but people tend to overlook the simple stuff. Moving in with someone new is always an exciting adventure, regardless of how many people you’ve roomed with. Keep these tips in mind, and track bills with Splitwise when living with roommates to create a non caustic living environment for everyone.