4 Overlooked Tips for Living with a Roommate

By Kailey Walters

When it comes to living with a new roommate, there are always so many factors to consider in your relationship: each other’s sleep schedules, whose side of the room each of you gets when either of you gets to have friends over … the list can go on and on. Maybe you’re familiar with some of the typical advice surrounding roommates (e.g., don’t leave passive-aggressive Post-It notes around the room), but there are bound to be some tips you’ve overlooked before.

1. Make a chore chart.

One piece of advice you’ve probably heard a million times is to remember to do your chores while in college -- things like do your laundry, vacuum, make your bed, etc. When you have a roommate, doing chores could get a little bit trickier, especially if you have multiple shared spaces such as a common area or a kitchen.

To figure out how to divide up your responsibilities with your roommate, create a chore chart. The chart could be any shape, size, or format -- as long as it’s organized and kept in an easily accessible place where both you and your roommate can check it regularly. Investing in a whiteboard or chalkboard could be useful if you want to draw a chart and easily erase and replace certain chores with new ones each week. Or you could create a fun circle chart that allows you to spin the wheel or arrow to decide who has what responsibilities for the week.

2. Pick up after yourself … everywhere.

Depending on what your living accommodations are, there could be multiple places where you might possibly leave a mess. Even if it’s not your turn to complete a certain chore, you should still be obliged to pick up after yourself if you happen to leave behind a small mess.

Your shared room is definitely one place where this rule applies. Be mindful of keeping your stuff on your side of the room, as you don’t want to infringe on your roommate’s space. Also, try your best to pick things up off the floor -- nobody wants to come home to a cluttered floor, and besides, having too many things lying around could be hazardous.

The bathroom is another area where you should pick up after yourself. If you happen to have long hair (and consequently shed a lot whenever you’re showering or brushing your hair), make sure to pick up your hair from the bathroom floor and even from the shower drain.

If you and your roommate share a common room and a kitchen, make sure those areas are kept clean as well. If you’re cooking in the kitchen, remember not to leave your food all over the counter or your dirty dishes in the sink for too long. A huge part of being a good roommate is being courteous and respectful of the other person’s space.

3. Learn how to deal with silences.

When you first meet your new roommate, you might be expecting to get to talk to them all the time, nonstop. And sure, maybe that’s how it will be sometimes, but there will also inevitably be silences between the two of you -- and that’s perfectly normal. It’s important that you both learn to be comfortable with these silences when you’re in the room together. Doing so allows you to give each other some much-needed, non-awkward space, perhaps at the end of a long day.

In that same vein, don’t try to force a friendship. You may have had the idea of becoming automatic best friends with your roommate, but the truth is, you can’t force these things or speed up the process of becoming friends. Instead, give each other time to warm up to one another so that neither of you feels pressured to become the best of friends right away.

4. Respect their finances.

If you’re living in an apartment and splitting the rent with your roommate, it’s important that you handle your own money responsibly and that you respect your roommate’s finances as well. Essentially, that means paying your rent on time. If there are other expenses that need to be paid in addition to rent, it may be helpful for the two of you to sit down and have an honest, open talk about what you expect from each other financially. Having a plan in place will provide security in case something unexpected comes up.

Living with a roommate can often be a fun, joyful, and memorable experience. Make the effort to be friendly and agreeable, and you’re sure to enjoy living with someone new.

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