Roommate Etiquette to Follow

By Kaitlin Hurtado

When it comes to living with roommates, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages you will face. Every roommate situation is different, some people live with complete strangers while others opt to live with close friends. Whatever the case may be, it is no secret that sharing a living space with someone else – regardless of how well you know each other – can lead to some tension or uncomfortable situations. While you cannot anticipate or prevent every single argument or problem between roommates, you can take steps to make living together much easier, starting with following basic roommate etiquette.

What can be considered basic roommate etiquette? While everyone may have different living situations, there’s still roommate etiquette to follow – keep reading for ideas of what you can do
to be a better roommate.

Student Roommates: Roommate Etiquette to Follow

Be mindful of guests
Some roommates are ok with an open guest policy, allowing you to bring over any amount of guests whenever you please. While others may prefer a proper heads up and a limited amount of people over in their living space. Whatever the situation is, it is important to be mindful of you and your roommate’s guest policy.

While it is your apartment and you should be able to invite whoever you want, you are sharing the space with your roommate and they have the right to speak up and voice when they feel uncomfortable. Communicate with your roommate to establish expectations around guests in your apartment, follow the expectations, and let each other know if the situation is no longer working and further compromise needs to be made.

Don’t assume your right to their belongings
While you may be sharing a living space with your roommate, that does not give you the right to share just about anything else with them. Some roommates are ok with sharing things like cleaning supplies, and household goods (toilet paper, napkins, etc), but draw the line when it comes to groceries and toiletries. Some are ok with sharing cooking appliances like a toaster, while they want to keep cooking utensils, pots, and dishes to themselves.

When you first start living together, establish what you and your roommate are willing to share, from kitchen goods to household supplies.

If you do find yourself needing something from your roommates, be sure to ask their permission beforehand. Depending on what you are using, offer to pay them or trade them, or refill their supply if you end up using it up.

Don’t treat common spaces like your personal space
Depending on your living situation, you may have varying levels of what you would be able to deem as personal space. Some people will have access to their own personal bedroom and bathroom, while others may have to share their bedroom and bathroom along with the usual common spaces like an entryway, living room, and kitchen. While your personal space grants you the freedom to decorate and use the space as you please, the same should not be applied to common spaces.

In most cases, everyone should have equal access to common spaces and have equal rights to use the space. However, common spaces should be treated as shared spaces, from how they are decorated to how they are maintained. For example, while you may be ok leaving your personal bedroom a bit messy and keeping things like clothes and books thrown about, you shouldn’t treat the living room the same way. Remember to clean up after yourself and not use the living room as an extension of your personal bedroom.

If you do want to decorate areas like the living room, make sure to communicate with your roommate(s) prior to starting. Some may give you free rein while others may wish to have a say in how the room is decorated.

Don’t be a hypocrite
When living with another person, a good living environment happens when all parties have the ability to understand each other and communicate properly. Compromise is typically a must as everyone has different desires and expectations on how to use their space.

Upon move-in, people typically establish some set of roommate rules, from cleaning duties to guest policies. If you have certain expectations of your roommate, make sure you are setting and following the expectations yourself.

For example, you cannot get upset with your roommate bringing friends over often because you feel like they are intruding on your living space, but then bring your own friends over for your own hangouts. Likely, your roommate will feel like it’s unfair – and you would be completely in the wrong for not allowing your roommate the same freedom you are giving yourself.

Sharing a living space with someone else can lead to miscommunication, misunderstandings, and tension. By following this basic roommate etiquette, you can help keep you and your roommates on the same page during your time living together.

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