College Roommate Tips

What to Do When Your Roommate Must Approve Your Subletter

By Brittany Loeffler

There are many reasons why you may want to move out of your apartment in the middle of your lease. Whether you are studying abroad, accepting a job or internship in a different city, or simply want different roommates, you’re responsible for finding a subletter to take your place. However, if you live with roommates, this may be a little more difficult as your roommate, along with your landlord, must approve the subletter.

It can be a long and frustrating process to find a subletter, but in the case that you have to get your roommate to approve them, here are some ways to make it a little easier.

Via Pixabay

Notify Your Roommate That You’re Moving Out

The first, and most important, step to getting your roommate to approve a subletter is to notify them that you are moving out. Sit them down and have a conversation about moving out and that you must find someone to replace you. Give your roommate details about when you expect to move out and what you are planning to take with you.

Let your roommate know that they will have to approve the subletter you find. This will prepare them and put them into the mindset of living with a new roommate, making the transition easier.

Ask Your Roommate About Their Preferences

While you are talking to your roommate about moving out and finding a subletter, ask them what they appreciate and desire in a roommate. You don’t want to stick them with someone that will make their life miserable after you move out. What kind of person do they get along with? Do they have a preference as to the subletter’s age or if they are in school?

Screen Your Subletter

Once you have found someone, or multiple people, who are interested in subletting your room, it’s time to thoroughly screen them. Meet with your subletter in person and ask them to fill out an application for your landlord. This is important because it will inform you if they have been evicted before and their financial situation. You don’t want to be left with the rent if your subletter doesn’t pay it one month.

Next, get to know what kind of person your potential subletter is. Do they party a lot? What do they expect out of a good roommate? This will help you decide if they are a good match for your roommate.

Introduce Your Roommate

If you have determined that the subletter you have found is a good fit to take your spot and will probably get along with your roommate, it’s time to introduce them. Schedule a time for all of you to get together, preferably in the apartment so they can get a feel for the atmosphere. Let your roommate interview your subletter about their lifestyle and personality. Your roommate will appreciate having a say in the decision and getting to know their potential new roommate.

Be Considerate of Your Roommate

It can be frustrating trying to find a subletter, especially if you are on a time crunch. You don’t want to throw the first person who wants to sublet your room at your roommate, though. They may be a terrible match with your roommate and make their living situation unbearable. This would leave your roommate with a bad taste in their mouth about you.

Consider your roommate’s feelings and lifestyle when interviewing your potential subletters. It may take some extra time to go through a couple of different people, but it will be worth it for both you and your roommate in the end.

Get Your Landlord’s Approval

Once you have received your roommate’s approval, it’s time to notify your landlord that you have found someone to sublet your room to. They have the ultimate say as to whether you can take someone on as a subletter. Their decision is usually based on financial information such as a credit check and a background check.

Ask your subletter to complete an application for your landlord to officially get the subletting process rolling. Your landlord may also want to meet their new tenant in person, which you should schedule and be present for as well.

Getting Approval for Your Subletter

Subletting your apartment is no easy task and getting your roommate’s approval of your subletter doesn’t make it any easier. While you may want to let the first person interested take the room, it’s important to consider your roommate’s feelings, screen the subletter, and introduce them to your roommate before you ask for your landlord’s approval. Since your roommate will be the one living with the person, they should have a say in the decision of who takes your room.

Be patient and considerate throughout this process. Taking the extra time to find a subletter that your roommate will approve of will pay off in the end.

Finding and Living with New Roommates During the Pandemic

By Kailey Walters

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are a lot of things that have become more difficult than before — finding a roommate, for instance. With social distancing guidelines in place, it can be a bit challenging to successfully find a roommate whom you think you can trust and safely live with. Despite the extra challenge, however, it is still possible to find a new roommate safely and manage to live with them, provided you both are able to communicate properly and set some boundaries.

Finding a Roommate

Advertise your room.

Whether or not we’re in the middle of a pandemic, one of the first steps of finding a new roommate is advertising your available room and/or reaching out to people who may be interested in renting with you. If you already happen to know someone who has expressed some interest in becoming your roommate, that makes things a little easier for you because you’ll know them already and most likely have some idea of their daily habits and lifestyle.

However, if there isn’t anyone you know who might be looking to rent with you, you’ll have to figure out a way to advertise your available room. If you’re active on social media, you can post about your room and your request for a roommate on various social media platforms, such as on Facebook and Instagram. Most likely, there will be some takers who are interested, and they will contact you. Make sure when you post or advertise to include pertinent details about your room — the location, the size, how many rooms there are, the price, and any other details that you think will be necessary for someone to make a decision or at least be interested.

Set up a virtual meeting with them.

Once you’ve gotten in contact with a potential roommate, you should set up a virtual meeting to get to know them and ask them a few questions. A virtual meeting is the obvious choice during this pandemic, as you want to be safe and maintain social distancing. A video chat, a conference call, or even a phone call will be the best communication options; in fact, a video chat in which you can see the other person’s face is better than a regular phone call because you’ll be able to get a fuller picture of this person. While a virtual meeting may not feel quite the same as an in-person meeting, it is certainly safer and the best thing you can do while practicing social distancing.

Ask the right questions.

During your meeting with a potential new roommate, make sure to ask the right questions in order to get the best picture of who that person is and what kind of roommate they could turn out to be. Here are a few important questions to ask.

1. Are you practicing social distancing?

One of the most important things to know about a potential new roommate is whether or not they are taking social distancing seriously. After all, if you’re going to be living with this person, you want to make sure that they are staying safe whenever they go out so that they don’t contract the virus and possibly spread it to you. If they tell you that they are taking social distancing seriously and have been practicing safety since the pandemic started, that should be a reassuring sign — it shows that both of you are on the same page and are committed to staying safe for each other’s sake. You can also discuss each other’s mask-wearing and hand-washing habits, as those are important for discerning whether or not they are taking social distancing seriously. If they wear a mask properly every time they go out and wash their hands regularly, especially when they come back to the apartment, that’s a good sign, and perhaps you’ll feel comfortable moving forward with them.

2. How have you been spending your time during the pandemic?

Another good question to ask is how they have been spending their time during the pandemic. After all, they will most likely continue this behavior after they have moved in with you, so you want to make sure that you’ll be comfortable with their lifestyle. For example, if the person you’re speaking with spends a lot of time hanging out with their friends, that may be a red flag for you. Once they move in with you, any people they come into regular contact with will also become part of your social matrix by default, thereby increasing the risk for the spread of coronavirus. As a result, you need to be very careful and selective in who you choose as a roommate, particularly based on their lifestyle and how they’ve been regularly spending their time over the past few months. And on the flip side, if the person you’re considering hasn’t been going out very often, mostly stays at home, and doesn’t see many people, that’s a good sign that they are maintaining a safe lifestyle and may be a good, trustworthy roommate.

3. What is your budget?

It’s always important to ask about someone’s budget and financial status when you’re considering them as a potential roommate, but it is perhaps even more important during this pandemic. With many people having lost their jobs this year so far, or at the very least feeling cautious because job security is becoming less certain, budgets are tight. And of course, you want to be living with a dependable roommate who has a reasonable budget and will be reliable enough to pay their rent and other bills on time every month. As a result, if you choose someone who is financially reliable, that will save you a lot of headaches later on, and you can rest assured that you won’t run into any financial rent-related problems. In addition, being aware of your new roommate’s budget is generally good for understanding what kind of lifestyle they lead — for instance, if they spend a great deal or don’t manage their money well, their actions could potentially point to their behavior in other areas and how seriously (or not seriously) they are taking initiative to stay safe during this pandemic.

4. How have you been getting groceries?

Asking about how they buy their groceries may seem oddly specific, but it’s nevertheless an important question to ask to get to know them better and, again, understand how their lifestyle plays out.

If they go to the grocery store in person, it’s important to know whether or not they regularly wear a mask. If they don’t visit the grocery store in person, they might prefer to order their groceries online. Their method of getting groceries may even inform how you get yours, since it may be most convenient for you both to get your groceries the same way. If they don’t happen to cook very often and instead end up ordering in or getting takeout from restaurants, that’s also an indication of their regular eating habits and could possibly be a factor in your consideration of them as a roommate. Either going to the restaurant to pick up takeout or ordering in are both viable and safe options; just make sure that they are going about it in a safe, mindful, and smart manner.

5. Do you plan on staying in this city/town for the long term?

Another question you may want to ask is about their long-term plans to stay in a particular city or town in which you are living. If the person you’re considering is serious and committed to staying for a decently long time, for at least a year, that’s most likely a good sign that they’ll stick around for a while. After all, you wouldn’t want to get saddled with an unreliable roommate who ends up breaking the lease early on, as that will just cause even more of a headache for you later on. What’s more, if they are committed to staying as your roommate for the long term, they will be more likely to dependably pay their share of the rent and be responsible in many aspects.

Sign a roommate agreement.

Once you’ve made a good connection with someone and decided that you both want to be roommates, it’s time to come up with a roommate agreement that you both agree on. The purpose of the agreement is to make sure that you both are on the same page and are willing to cooperate with each other in the face of potential difficulties and conflicts. The agreement may include things such as a chore schedule, quiet hours, how many guests can come over (if any at all) and when, pets, smoking, shared and private spaces, and shared costs, just to name a few. You and your roommate can both feel free to add whatever else you think is necessary to the document. After all, the goal of the agreement is to provide a foundation for both of you to foster mutual understanding and trust with one another.

Living with a New Roommate

After you’ve made the decision and signed all the papers, you’ll have to handle a whole new deal: living with the roommate you’ve chosen. During the pandemic, even if you’re in an area where you don’t have to strictly self-quarantine, it’s still extremely important to take proper precautions and be mindful about your health and safety — and the health and safety of others — wherever you go. As a result, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Discuss boundaries.

Since you and your roommate will likely be spending a lot of time in the apartment together, or at least in the same general shared space, it’s crucial that you both discuss boundaries. This is also where the terms of the roommate agreement come into play. If you are to live together peacefully as roommates, you need to respect each other’s wishes and any limitations you’ve set together. For example, if you put in the agreement that each of you can only have one guest over at a time, you both need to honor that.

Come up with a cleaning schedule.

A cleaning schedule may also have been decided upon in the roommate agreement, in which case, you and your roommate need to stick to it. Make sure that you have devised a schedule so that both of you know what to expect and who is scheduled to do which chores on which days. Having a consistent cleaning schedule will also ensure that your apartment stays clean on a regular basis, which will be reassuring and comforting for you.

Designate individual workspaces.

When you and your roommate have to spend a lot of time together in a relatively small space, it’s important to designate individual workspaces so that you don’t get in each other’s way. Especially if you both are continuing to work from home, you should each have a specific place in the apartment where you do your work — for example, in your bedrooms or even on opposite sides of the room. Make sure to give each other enough breathing room so that you can both stay sane throughout the day.

Ultimately, finding and living with new roommates — even in the midst of the pandemic — doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Make sure that you carefully do your research on what kind of roommate you want to live with, and be safe once you start living with them.

What to do if your Roommate is Putting You at Risk for the Coronavirus

By Victoria Robertson

We are certainly living in strange times, so living with roommates can be a challenge. While you will have to undergo basic roommate issues such as monetary arguments, space conflicts, and the like, you may also find yourself in conflict over the Coronavirus.

Now more than ever, people are hyper-aware of germs and the exposure to germs that individuals around them may have. This means that if you believe your roommate has been exposed to Coronavirus, you could find yourself struggling to avoid an argument.

So what is the etiquette? What should you do if you feel your roommate is putting you at risk for the Coronavirus? These six tips are a good way to avoid an argument while also staying safe.

Photo Via: Pixabay

1. Communicate Your Concerns

It's so important to let your roommate know how you're feeling about the Coronavirus. While you certainly don't want to frame this as an attack on their exposure, you do want to have an open and honest conversation about your concerns.

Do you feel you're being put at risk? If so, let them know why you believe that. Also be open to communicating methods through which you can both stay safe. Communication is key, especially in this day and age.

2. Take Precautions at Home

When you know that you or your roommate(s) are out and about and exposed to the virus, it's important to take all the precautions you can at home to avoid contaminating your living space.

While you don't need to go overboard and bleach all surfaces, you should be regularly wiping things down and keeping your space as clean as possible. So while washing your hands is a great precaution, you should also consider how you're keeping your living space as germ-free as possible, especially if your roommates are out and about during the pandemic.

3. Ask them to Take Precautions

As mentioned above, having a conversation with your roommate is a strong first step. In that conversation, you should always be talking about the proper safety precautions that you both should be taking.

This means that you should both set rules and guidelines that you are both comfortable with to ensure you're both being as safe as possible and ensuring that the other feels just as safe. When in doubt, talk it out!

4. Limit Your Exposure

Just because you feel that your roommate has been exposed is not to say that you haven't, especially if you are living together in close proximity. Just as you'd expect them to be limiting their exposure, you should also be limiting yours.

This means that you both should have a conversation about what type of exposure is necessary/acceptable. So are you both going to work? Do you go out to the bars or parties? Do you hang out with friends? Do either of you have any issues in any of those areas? Again, setting the guidelines will help to limit your exposure as well as theirs.

5. Limit Company

The key to avoiding Coronavirus, at least in the eyes of the experts, is to limit the amount of exposure you have. This means that you should be limiting exposure in many regards, including company.

If you or your roommate are having company over, you're increasing both of your risks for the Coronavirus. This means that you should have limited contact with people, which means that you shouldn't be having company over, especially if you feel that one of the two of you has been exposed to the virus. Basically, you don't want to expose more people, so definitely limit your contact with others.

6. Pay Attention to Symptoms

If you feel that your roommate has been exposed, or if you feel that you have, you should be paying attention to symptoms. Do you really feel that you have it, or that they do? If so, you should consider getting tested.

You should look up the symptoms and ensure that neither of you exhibits any and, if you do, you should both be tested and quarantine until you have the results. If you are negative, you can continue life as you did, but if even one of you is positive, you should continue the quarantine until you are cleared by medical professionals.

Again, Coronavirus has changed the times that we're living in, meaning that many individuals will find themselves in conflict with their roommates over Coronavirus related issues.

The more at-risk you are, or the more hyper-aware you are of the germs your roommate is exposed to, the more likely you are to feel you're at risk (or, at the very least, your roommate is).

The above six tips are a good way to ensure you are communicating your concerns with your roommate while also staying as safe as possible.

5 Tips to Help You Coordinate with Your Roommates Off-Campus

By Naomi Fink

Moving into an off-campus apartment this year? That’s awesome! Congrats! Off-campus apartments can be cheaper and homier than on-campus housing -- but, it also means that you have more responsibilities as a roommate and as a tenant. Here are some tips to help you coordinate with your roommates, stay organized, and most importantly, protect your relationships.

 1. Make a group chat with your roommates.

This may sound obvious, but to coordinate with your roommates you’ll need a way of communicating regularly. If possible, use WhatsApp, GroupMe, or some other form of messaging where you can respond to individual messages directly. It can get confusing when everyone’s chatting at once and the reply feature is a life-saver! Open the flow of communication early on to make sure you and your roommates have what you need and are properly prepared for moving day.

via Unsplash

2. Create a list of all the things you need.

There’s no better way to stay organized than by using a good old-fashioned checklist! When coordinating with your roommates, it can be useful to share a Google Doc list of shared items, especially since many things that were previously included in your dorm room -- like beds, dressers, desks, and storage space -- you’ll now have to procure yourselves.

Start off with a list of necessities and slowly work your way towards your wish-list items. As much as you might want those fun twinkly-lights for your bedroom, making sure you have pots and pans for your kitchen should probably come first. Color-coding is an excellent way to split up responsibilities and keep track of who’s bringing what. Coordinate with your roommates and share pictures of the items you’re bringing to make sure you’re all on the same page and that all your bases are covered.

via Pexels

3. Discuss your plan for dividing expenses.

Perhaps the toughest conversation you and your roommates will need to have is the talk about finances. Are you splitting all expenses equally? Should you divide responsibilities by costs or by items? Do you really need a $200 couch when a $100 couch will do? These questions can be especially difficult to discuss if you and your roommates are coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds, so it’s important to be transparent about your spending limits and expectations from the get-go.

If you’re more cost-conscious, resources like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great places to look for gently-used, lower-priced items. You can also save money by using Amazon Student Prime to order items straight to your door in bulk. Using an app like Splitwise or Finsplit can also be a super helpful way of remembering who owes who and how much. Avoid uncomfortable debts and unnecessary resentment by letting technology keep track for you!

And wherever you are on the financial spectrum, try to be sensitive to your roommates’ wants, needs, and boundaries. Not everyone can afford brand-new items and not everyone is comfortable with used items -- pick your battles carefully, compromise when possible, and be prepared to give in sometimes. These discussions are important but they aren’t worth losing friendships over.

 4. Coordinate colors.

Moving into an off-campus apartment and coordinating with your roommates is serious business -- picking out your colors and glamming up your new home is the fun part! Set the tone with matching white furniture and bright blue accent pieces or go with darker hues, featuring sharp black amenities and a splash of burgundy. You’ll be in your apartment a lot -- make it look nice!

via Pexels

5. Schedule apartment meetings.

Communication is critical when living with other people. Schedule and conduct apartment meetings on a regular basis to check in with one another, confront conflicts, and keep members of your apartment from harboring any resentful feelings. It’s much better to discuss your frustrations and work through them than to hold onto negative emotions and let them fester.

Then again, not all meetings need to be -- or should be -- serious. It’s important to schedule fun roommate activities too, especially when there are so many stresses that come along with living together! Movie nights, game nights, group hikes, and family-style dinners are great ways to bond with your roommates and strengthen your relationships. You may have only signed a one-year lease but you’ll want your friendships to last forever.

If you’re nervous about your upcoming move, use these five tips to help you stay on track. Don’t let the stresses of off-campus living outweigh the excitement of this new step! Chat, plan, and coordinate with your roommates to ensure a smooth transition into your apartment and peaceful co-existing once you’re there. Happy adulting!

Tips for Maintaining the Peace With Your Roommates While Living in Quarantine & Close Quarters

By Kaitlin Hurtado

You may have heard of your typical college roommate horror stories, but you never could have anticipated the stories that come from living with your roommates during the coronavirus-mandated quarantine. While plenty of college students opted to pack up their belongings and move back home with family, ongoing apartment leases and other factors led to many college students staying in their shared apartments as lockdowns were placed across the United States. Thus, many students spent a lot more time with their college roommates than they ever could have anticipated during quarantine.

While states are in varying stages of their reopening plans, most people are still encouraged to stay home and away from those outside of their households as much as possible. So, it should not come as a surprise that roommates are at wit's end when it comes to surviving even more time in close quarters with their roommates. As the pandemic goes on, keep these tips for maintaining the peace with your roommates while living in quarantine and close quarters in mind.

Photo: Pexels

1. Embrace alone time in your shared living space

While quarantine can make many seek companionship and human interaction, there is also the ever-present need for quality alone time. When you are sharing a living space with at least one other person, that alone time can be pretty hard to find.

Alone time could have come to a lot easier pre-quarantine. With roommates likely to have different school, work, and social time commitments, you were more likely to find alone time in your room without interruption. However, now that everyone is home for quarantine, that alone time is suddenly rare -- and that change can cause some unwanted arguments between roommates.

If not having proper alone time is getting to you, communicate that with your roommates. For example, you may be lounging around catching up on a TV show when your roommate barrels into the room to join you. To them, you were likely doing nothing and there is absolutely no harm in joining you. However, to you, the interruption can bring an abrupt end to the alone time -- no conversation, no thinking, just you -- you had been waiting for all day.

If this is the case, talk to your roommate to let them know that while you appreciate their company, you just need some alone time. If you think they are going to take it the wrong way, suggest a later time where you can hang out, whether it is in a few hours or the next day when both of you are free.

2. Set a schedule for shared living spaces

Regardless of how much square feet your apartment may offer, quarantine can make any space feel cramped when you have roommates. Shared living spaces, in particular, can feel cramped and cause problems between roommates as roommates battle out who can use space at what times.

As mentioned previously, sharing common spaces could have been no problem at all pre-quarantine if you and your roommates were running on different schedules. One roommate could have been an early riser and made use of common spaces before anyone else got up, but now that everyone's somewhat on the same schedule, that person is competing with everyone else for the same space.

If you and your roommates are currently working or taking classes, take those time blocks into consideration when making a schedule. You don't need to have a strict schedule for every single shared space, but you want everyone to be aware of how they are using shared spaces and feel like they have an equal right to shared space.

While you (or another roommate) may think that because space is shared, anyone can use it at any given time. However, being in quarantine changes that narration a bit. Let's say one roommate wants to workout. While they would typically go to the gym for their workout, they are forced to do that at home now that gyms are closed or they feel unsafe returning to the gym amid the pandemic. They may want to complete that workout in a shared space -- the outdoor patio, the living room, and so on -- because it has the most space available. Rather than putting up an argument that everyone should use the room whenever they want (like watching TV), be more considerate and make a schedule. For example, issue an hour or two where the roommate can have the entire living room space for their at-home workout without disturbance. For the rest of the day, the TV can be up for grabs for everyone else.

3. Get ready to compromise like never before

A large part of maintaining peace with your roommates while living in such close quarters is everyone's ability to compromise. While you may have been able to share your apartment with no problems prior to quarantine, it is unlikely that you will continue through the quarantine without issue. It can be something as small as one roommate not picking up after themselves to arguing about who can use what space at what times. Quarantining with roommates can seriously challenge your ability to compromise.

In an ideal world, everyone can go about their day without breaching on someone else's space. Unfortunately, this ideal situation is fairly unlikely. Everyone has their own preferences on when to cook, clean, work, and study. Some of these are due to personal preferences, but others are shaped by schedules set for them -- work meetings, class times, and so on. These "fixed" times should be respected first and foremost. Yes, it may be inconvenient to be a little quieter while your roommates are on an important video call for class or work, but just put yourself in their shoes.

They likely don't want to inconvenience you any more than what is necessary. Be ready to compromise as you all have to work around everyone's time commitments as you share the same space. Do not be afraid to look back at compromises made and reevaluating their worth to you and your roommates.

Maybe a month ago you all agreed that your roommate could use the living room to skype with her friends for a few hours on the weekends. But now, that same roommate is pretty much taking over the living room for an entire day to skype with her friends, making it inconvenient and near impossible for any other roommate to use the space. Call for a roommate meeting and express your concerns. Either ask your roommate if she can do a different day or let her know that you and your other roommates want to use the living room but can't due to her long skype calls. Emphasize that while you want her to have that time to hang out with her friends, you and your roommates also want some time to enjoy the living room as well.

Of course, this is just one of many conversations you can have when it comes to compromising with your roommates, but it can be applied to multiple situations.

4. Renegotiate space functions

As everyone is still adjusting to their "new normal," it is only right that part of that adjustment is seen in their living space. People are spending more time than ever before in their indoor spaces -- to relax, study, and work. The spaces that your roommates are used to having to tend to areas of their life are no longer there: exercising at gyms, working in an office, studying in cafes and libraries, watching movies at their friends' apartments, and so on.

Thus, your roommates are going to likely want to continue those activities, or have to complete those activities, in the space that your apartment provides. Home workouts, Zoom meetings in rooms, studying on the dining table because that is where the better internet connection is. Your roommates are likely going to be using more space than their rooms can provide, whether their bedrooms are shared or not. To remedy this issue of needing more space, you will want to reevaluate the function of your shared spaces and see how they can work better for everyone as they adjust to their new normal.

For example, your living room can double as a home gym for you and your roommates. Rather than keeping the space as is, you may want to refigure the space so that you and your roommates can make the most of it. This may mean moving a coffee table off to the side or rearranging the sofa and chairs to maximize floor space for daily yoga and stretches. Or, you can create a "workout station" in your living room. When you are not leaving the house as often in quarantine, you likely won't need a variety of shoes by the doorway. Instead, repurpose your shoe rack into a "workout station." Use it to store any yoga mats, weights, resistance bands, and workout gear that you will need during at-home workouts.

If repurposing your living room into a home gym is not in the cards for you and your roommates, you may consider changing your dining room into a work station. With your roommates being forced to work from home, whether for a job or school, they no longer have access to the workspaces they are used to. Some roommates may not have adequate desk spaces or good connections in their personal rooms. To remedy this issue, transform your dining table into a work station for everyone to use. To avoid arguments about separating work, make a schedule. Establish that the dining table can be used for efficient work from a set number of hours, like from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., anyone is free to use the dining area as they wish. To avoid things getting too messy or having work/study items all over the apartment, get a cabinet or bookshelf used to store everyone's belongings in "off hours." Each person can have their own cubby or shelf to store laptops, cords, notebooks, and other supplies while not in use.

5. Be available and offer support to your roommates

Truth is, everyone is struggling right now. Just think about how you are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and how it is impacted your life. You may be out of a job, or unable to fly back home to see your family. Your roommates are also dealing with their own life changes due to the coronavirus. This is a time to be empathetic, understanding, and supportive.

Regardless of how close you are to your current roommates, you like all have a separate support system outside of your living space. For some, it is their family. For others, it is their outside friend circles. Quarantine is likely taking away these support systems. While they can call or text their friends and family, it is not the same as face-to-face interaction that many are craving right now.

As lonely or unsure you are feeling, your roommates are likely feeling the same way as they adjust to quarantine and the changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Be supportive of your roommates. This does not mean that you need to take on all their troubles and always be on-call to hear their struggles, but check in with them to see how they are coping and if there is anything you can do to help them. You would be surprised how much an unplanned movie night or night of destressing with board games with all your roommates. Not only does it give you the chance to take your mind off of your personal struggles, you can also let one another know you are there for each other.

Photo: Pexels

Living with roommates in quarantine and in close quarters can cause multiple conflicts, it is nearly inevitable. However, with these tips in mind, you can take tips to prevent unnecessary conflicts between roommates and instead focus on helping each other cope through quarantine and major life changes.

How To Talk Politics And Current Events With Your Roommate

By Danielle Wirsansky

In times of tumult, talking about politics and current events can be difficult, even with those who are closest to you. Maybe you are not sure where you stand, you are afraid you might say something wrong, or maybe you disagree with where they stand. The current climate in the United States is incredibly politically charged though, making it almost impossible not to bring up, mention, or talk about what is going on in the world, your country, your state, and even your city.

When you live with a roommate, it can be difficult to avoid these topics as they often affect your daily life and it is probably harmful to avoid talking to your roommate at all (especially since many Americans are still in quarantine—your roommate may be the only human contact you are receiving at present!). Especially if you are uncomfortable discussing these topics or have polar opinions from your roommate, finding healthy and safe ways to talk about these things is key. Read on to learn how to talk politics and current events with your roommate!

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Stay Calm

The first thing you can do when talking politics or current events with not just your roommate but everyone you choose to discuss these topics with is to stay calm. Keep a level head. This does not mean that you have to agree with everything that your roommate says. This does not mean that you can’t be incredulous, upset, or offended by the things that they say. This also does not mean that you cannot respond to their comments and tell your roommate how and why they upset or bother you.

What staying calm does is help you from flying off the handle. Politics and current events, especially now, are deeply personal. It is very possible that your roommate could say something that goes against what you believe in or think is right.

Unfortunately, whether or not you agree with your roommate, you are stuck living with them. You are not arguing with some random stranger or distant acquaintance on the internet. This is someone you live with, at least until your lease runs out. You can definitely still stand up for yourself and what you believe in when discussing touchy political topics with your roommate. You just do not want to create an environment that makes it uncomfortable for you to reside with your roommate when you are legally obligated to by your lease and have nowhere else to go.

Create Boundaries

Another step that you can take to help keep your conversations with your roommate about politics and current events civil is to create boundaries. That way you can avoid topics or actions that might make the situation bubble over and become toxic.

You can create boundaries about what topics can be discussed, how long or much your two are allowed to discuss those topics in a day or even create safe words or phrases to help guide the conversation when it is getting too intense, triggering, or real for either one of you. That way you can guide the conversation in another direction.

This will help to curb intrusive questions that either one of you might find insulting or prying but can help guide the conversation safely away from topics that could escalate a situation. When a safe word is used, conversational partners should know better than to ask, “Why can’t we talk about that?”, “Why not?”, or “That is not fair.” This kind of boundary should be used in high-stress situations when you are unable to articulate yourself or your partner seems incapable of understanding where you come from.

These boundaries are meant to protect both you and your roommate and keep a positive living environment.


Finally, you have to know when to disengage. If you and your roommate are unable to stay calm, the boundaries you mutually created are either being flouted or ignored, and the situation is quickly becoming toxic, then you have to disengage from the conversation. Your safety and health (physically, mentally, and emotionally) is what is most important.

If your roommate can’t respect you, your opinion, or your boundaries, then disengage. Tell them the conversation is ending. Leave the space. Leave the house to get some air, if you need it and are able to. And from then on, you can either always avoid these topics with your roommate or you can nip the conversation in the bud if it starts straying into dangerous territory.

What is most important when talking politics and current events with your roommate is that you have fruitful discussions rather than create toxic situations. And if you find that you are unable to engage in healthy discussion, be able to remove yourself from a situation before it can get toxic.

5 Safe Activities to do with Your Roommates this Summer

By Alicia Geigel

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed our normal summer routines, from commuting to work to going to restaurants. Since the pandemic started spreading in March, many states have been in lockdown, with local governments enforcing restrictions regarding work, shopping, visiting hospitals and health care facilities, and social gatherings. While the virus has shown signs of slowing down, several states have seen a spike in cases due to a number of people ignoring CDC guidelines.

Most of us anticipated the virus to calm down by the summer, however, the recent spike in cases tell a different story. With several states enforcing restrictions and potentially going into lockdown again, it can be discouraging and disappointing to figure out activities to do with your roommates this summer. Though some of your normal summer routines or traditions are being interfered with because of the pandemic, there are still ways to have fun with your roommates.

Are you dreading the rest of the summer because of the pandemic? Looking for safe ways to enjoy some time with your roommates? Here are five safe, fun activities to do with your roommates this summer!

1. Bike Ride in the Park: During the pandemic, staying indoors for most of us has been mandatory. While being at home is nice, there is only so much Netflix, Hulu, or Youtube that you and your roommates can watch before it gets old and quite frankly, suffocating. Though going outside during the pandemic is a risk, there are activities you can do to have virtually zero risk of coming in contact with the virus. If there is a large park nearby, consider getting your bike and riding throughout the park with your roommates! This keeps contact with others to a minimum, while being able to enjoy the beauty and freshness of the outdoors.

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2. Drive-in Movie Theater: Summertime is always a huge season of the year for blockbuster movies. From scary movies to hilarious comedies, there never seems to be a shortage of great films to watch with your friends at the movie theater. As seating is close together in movie theaters, many have been closed down until further notice during the pandemic, leaving people wondering where they can get the same theater experience. Drive-in movies aren’t just a thing of the past anymore, rather, they are something that is becoming popular again! If there is a drive-in movie event in your area, gather up your roommates in the car and head over with some snacks, drinks, and of course, the popcorn! Watching movies like this not only keeps everyone at a safe distance, but it also gives you a chance to do something run out of the house!

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3. Walk in Your Neighborhood: There is nothing better than strolling around the neighborhood on a breezy summer night, watching the sunset, and breathing in the warm air of life around you. If you and your roommates are bored, get out of the house and go for a walk in your neighborhood or nearby if possible. Be sure to maintain distance between you and other people that may be walking by, as well as wear a proper face mask. Though it’s not the most exciting, it is a safe way to hang out with your roommates. You could even bring some music to make the walk more fun!

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4. Go to the Beach: In recent weeks, beaches have been a growing hub for people to flock to and unfortunately, spread the virus. While it is not an activity with the lowest risk of contracting the virus, going to the beach is a low-medium risk activity that you and your roommates can do. If you go to the beach, absolutely maintain six feet of distance between your group and others. Seek out a secluded area of the beach so you don’t have to worry about large crowds, and if possible, try to stay in motion during your visit.

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5. Have an Outdoor Picnic: What is more fun during the summertime than having a picnic with your cherished roommates? Sure, you all could sit around your kitchen table and have lunch but where is the fun in that? Pick a beautiful day, make sandwiches, assemble snacks and yummy desserts, grab some cold drinks, and pack everything in a basket. Head to a favorite spot, perhaps in a park, or even somewhere outside your home/apartment, and enjoy sitting in the grass being warmed by the sun. Again, social distancing from others is key; wear a face mask and do not share utensils or food with anyone other than your group.

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Finding ways to have fun with your roommates during the pandemic may seem impossible, but these small activities can give you the opportunity to enjoy each other while staying safe at the same time!

What to Know if You Need to Break Your Lease and How to Talk to Your Roommates About It

By Victoria Robertson

Things come up in college all the time, whether that be study abroad experiences or internships that take you away from campus. Whatever the situation, there are many reasons for which you could need to break your lease.

That being said, having a difficult conversation with your roommates is no easy feat, and can be entirely overwhelming.

When it comes down to it, if you need to break your lease, there are six things you need to know.

Photo Via Pixabay

1. You Might Still Be On The Hook

First and foremost, just because you are planning on breaking your lease does not mean that you are escaping your contract, scot-free. In fact, leaving your roommates high and dry isn’t always financially feasible for them, so you may still be on the hook for your portion of the rent.

This is all dependent upon the leasing contract you signed, but this document could mean that you have to pay your share of the lease through the end of the lease term.

While there are typically workarounds here, you should always consider the option that you’ll still end up paying your share of the rent, which can certainly add up, especially if you’ll also be paying rent at a different location.

2. Subletters May Not Be An Option

Subletting your apartment is a giant pain in the butt, which is something I share from experience.

For one thing, you’ll need to see if this is an option in your lease. If it is, most often, you’ll have to find the subletters on your own, and then draw up another contract with your leasing office to write them into the lease.

From here, you should understand that, in most leases, you will be responsible for the damages done by your subletters. Ultimately, it’s your name on the lease, and therefore your money on the line, especially if your subletters default on their rent and don’t pay their share.

While this isn’t always the case, and you may have a leasing office that’s more hands-on with the subletting process, you’ll definitely want to look into that before making any commitments.

In addition, subletting may not even be an option at your apartment complex.

Many buildings actually put these clauses into their contracts as issues tend to arise when allowing renters to choose their subletters. For this reason, they simply ensure subletting isn’t an option, which, to point number one, would leave you on the hook for your share of the rent.

3. You May Need a New Contract

As previously mentioned, if you are leaving your lease, two, three, or four shares of the rent now change, increasing the rent of your roommates (assuming you won’t be using subletters).

In these instances, you should consider writing up a new contract with your leasing office to take you off the lease.

If your roommates agree to pay larger portions and change their minds later on, and your name is still on the lease, you are still responsible for your share, which may not be financially feasible for you.

Talk with your leasing office to determine if you would need a new contract or if you can simply buy out of your lease to avoid the fiasco later on. Because trust me, you won’t want to get hit with a bill for three months’ rent that you missed and cannot afford to pay.

4. Costs May Be Associated

The cost of breaking a lease will vary dependent upon the building. For some agencies, you’ll simply need to pay a month’s rent to break your lease. For others, you could pay three months’ rent or more.

In some instances, I’ve heard of individuals having to pay the remainder of their lease as “breaking” the lease wasn’t really an option.

Just know that breaking a lease is a challenge, and it could come with a high price tag attached to it. So consider these costs, check into whether or not that’s financially feasible for you and then move forward from there.

5. You Should Have a Contingency Plan

Now, what happens if you break your lease and your other plans end up falling through? What are you supposed to do then?

Breaking your lease doesn’t always mean that you have something nailed down otherwise, so what should you do in the instance that you’ve broken your lease and realize you’ve made a mistake?

These are all considerations you should take to heart before breaking your lease.

For one thing, you should be serious about these alternative plans. For another, you should be positive that you won’t be returning to the lease later on. If you are simply planning on studying abroad for a semester, you may want to consider subletting for that semester and then returning to your lease the next semester.

Breaking a lease should be used as a last resort if you can no longer stay in that apartment or building. Basically, it’s a final step to getting out of your lease, so you should always be confident in that decision before actually making it.

6. It May Not Be An Option

Last, but certainly not lease, you’ll need to consider the idea that it’s not even a possibility to break your lease.

Some leasing offices won’t let you do it, or will, but require that you pay out the remainder of your lease, which is essentially the same thing as not allowing it.

Such a high price tag may not be worth it, and you may want to simply consider subletting.

However, the only way to truly know and understand your options is to visit your leasing office and ask them some questions regarding your options. They’ll let you know what you can and can’t do, so this is a great starting point.

You should also read through the fine print in your lease to ensure you’re educated prior to this meeting, as you’ll want to be as familiar as you can be with the document that you signed.

So, once you’re well-versed in what you need to know when breaking your lease, you should also note that you’ll likely need to converse with your roommates about the change of plans.

Again, this isn’t an easy task, and one you should be well prepared for in order to ensure everything is done correctly and no feelings are hurt in the process.

So, to assist you in that difficult conversation, here are six things to know when talking to your roommates about breaking your lease.

1. They Could Be Angry/Upset

Conversations get heated all the time, but when you talk about breaking a lease and making plans that alter someone else’s plans, you can expect things to get a little emotional.

While most individuals will handle this news well, there are some that may become angry or upset at your change of plans. Just be prepared and expect that things aren’t going to be smooth sailing simply because you’d prefer they were.

Get ready to have a difficult conversation, and keep your cool throughout, no matter what. You’re throwing them the curveball, so you should allow them to cope with these changes as they need to.

2. There Will be a Money Conversation

Money is always a topic of conversation when living with roommates, and when breaking your lease, you should assume it will be another conversation.

For one thing, your roommates will be concerned that such a choice will increase their monthly payments, which may not be feasible for them. Remember that your decision can impact their wallets, so you should be mindful of that.

Be prepared to have a conversation about money and be ready to answer their questions regarding the next steps. You should look into your options with your leasing office prior to this conversation so you’re well versed in what’s needed from everyone in order to make this transition as smooth as possible.

3. They May Not Agree With Your Plans

Just because this is a decision that you’ve made does not mean that they have to be on board with it. In fact, you can expect that it will take them a little while to get on board with the idea, if at all.

That all being said, you should prepare for the idea that your roommates won’t agree with your plans and will try to talk you out of them. While typically for selfish reasons, when you live in close proximity to someone, you become close with them and blindsiding them with a move like this could hurt.

In addition, they may not be on board with subletting your room or paying an increased share in rent, which is their prerogative. Just be ready to have some difficult conversations about what they are and are not willing to do, and have a couple of options available to help appease the situation.

4. They Aren’t Responsible for Everything

If your conversation doesn’t go nearly as well as you would’ve liked, you may learn that your roommates aren’t willing to put themselves on the line, which, again, is their prerogative.

Understand that they aren’t responsible for your decisions, so you may end up on the hook for more than you bargained for, such as continuing your rent payments, dealing with roommates that won’t agree to a sublease, etc.

Just because you’ve made a decision doesn’t mean that they have made the same one, so you should definitely be prepared to deal with a couple of kinks in your plan along the way. When you have a roommate, they have equal say in the goings-on in the apartment or building and have just as much say over what to do with it.

5. You May Need to Show Them the Ropes

That all being said, your roommates may be super supportive and on board with your plans, but don’t really understand what this means for them.

For instance, some may agree with subletting, but may not know where to begin with that process, or may want you to take the lead and ensure you have someone to move in upon your leaving.

Basically, just because you’ve done the research and looked into the situation doesn’t mean that they are as familiar with the steps, so you’ll need to be patient and willing to help them learn what needs to be done, for everyone’s sake.

The more helpful and informative you are in your conversation with them, the more likely the conversation is to go well. Just be willing to step up and assist, as you are the one that’s making the change, not them.

6. Do What You Need to Do

Last, but not least, you need to do what you need to do. Odds are, you have not made this decision lightly, and you’re only trying to do what’s best for your education, whether that means studying abroad or taking on an internship, or leaving campus.

Whatever your future plans, they are yours, and you’re always able to do what’s best for you, as you should.

So the conversation with your roommates may be difficult, but if you’ve thought this through and decided this is what you want, then you need to stick to your guns and ensure you do exactly what you need to do in order to make your dreams a reality.

Don’t settle because you feel guilty; this is your education, and you need to do what’s best for you.

Photo Via Pixabay

Again, breaking your lease can be difficult, especially if you weren’t planning on it. Not only do you have to grapple with the logistics of breaking that lease, but you also have to consider your roommates and have the difficult conversation with them to ensure everyone is on the same page.

It’s not an easy task, but with the above 12 tips, you’ll be well prepared to handle everything with grace and ensure that all sticking points are worked through.

Good luck!

Tips for Cleanliness When Sharing a Bedroom With Your Roommate

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Living with roommates has plenty of upsides and downsides. There's the opportunity to lower your monthly rent and the opportunity to live with your best friend. There's also the opportunity to clash on a variety of topics: having guests over, whether or not to share certain items, and most importantly, how to keep your shared living space clean. With two separate schedules -- and often two differing views on the definition of clean -- it can get pretty difficult to keep your bedroom clean when living with a roommate. Here are a few key tips for cleanliness when it comes to sharing a bedroom with roommates.

Photo: Pexels

Establish a standard of "clean"

Roommates will likely have different expectations of "clean." So, establish a standard of what a clean bedroom is to you so that when someone cleans, they clean to that standard. While a roommate may actually spend time cleaning and say they're done, the other roommate may look at it and say the space still needs cleaning.

Communication is key when it comes to maintaining a clean bedroom when sharing it with a roommate. One roommate may be perfectly fine with the current level of mess -- clothes placed throughout the room, some dirty dishes on surfaces -- while the other roommate hates to see any item where it isn't supposed to be. Communicating with your roommate as early as possible to establish what each person's definition of clean is key. Not only will you better understand what each person expects from the space, but it can help you shape a cleaning schedule that works for both of you.

Assign cleaning duties and a schedule

Ideally, you and your roommate will split up cleaning duties so that no one is stuck with cleaning duty after cleaning duty. There are a few ways that roommates tend to split up cleaning duties so that it's split evenly among roommates.

One idea is to have alternating weeks where one person will clean one week, the other person the next, and so on. This way is fairly easy to remember as it's just a matter of remembering who is in charge of cleaning for the week.

Another idea that works for busier roommates is to split up cleaning duties every week and alternate those duties every week or month. For example, someone will vacuum and dust and the other will clean out the bathroom, the next week, these duties will be exchanged. This method works for roommates that don't want to spend a bulk of time deep cleaning their shared spaces but would rather spend a little time every week on a designated task.

Once you have a schedule set up for cleaning, you may also want to set up a detailed checklist. This checklist can help show what needs to be cleaned, especially when you and your roommate have different definitions of clean. It also can help ensure that both of you are cleaning the same way, week after week. As time passes and you both are used to clearing that checklist week after week, those cleaning duties will be your new normal and hopefully, no checklist is needed.

Keep up your individual cleaning duty

When you do create a cleaning schedule, it's important to also understand each person still has the individual duty to clean up after themselves. Just because one person is on cleaning duty for the week, doesn't mean the other person can create their own messes and expect the other person to clean up for them because it's not their week to clean up after themselves.

Not only is it disrespectful to make a mess and leave it with the intention for someone else to clean it, but it can also create unnecessary tension between roommates. Each person should still be cleaning up after themselves, putting clothes in the right places, throwing out their trash, and so on.

Act as if every week is your time to clean when it comes to picking up after yourself -- you wouldn't want to pick up after your roommate's clothes and dirty dishes when it's your turn to clean your shared bedroom, would you? Remember that small messes add up and try to do your part in keeping your room clean, even when it's not necessarily your week to clean.

Be flexible

With more than one person sharing a bedroom, there's more than one schedule to consider when it comes to keeping up the cleaning schedule you made. It's important to be mindful of each other's schedules and communicate when you can't keep up the cleaning schedule.

For example, one roommate may be having a hard week -- they have a lot of shifts at their job, an important assignment or exam coming up -- and the last thing on their mind is probably cleaning your shared bedroom. Instead of getting angry at your roommate for not being able to keep up with their cleaning duties, try to understand their situation and what you would ask for if you were in their position. Offer to take up the cleaning duties for them in exchange for them doing yours the following week, or when things ease up for them.

Also, leaving the mess for extended periods of time can just make the space messier and leave you both unhappy.

When sharing a bedroom, it's important to maintain open communication and a clear cleaning schedule when it comes to keeping your shared bedroom clean.

7 Ideas for a Roomie Date Night In

By Kailey Walters

After several months of spending all your time at home, you may be going a little stir crazy at this point. And if you live with roommates, you may just be getting a bit tired of being around them all the time.

Since you might not get the chance to go anywhere else any time soon, you and your roommates should come up with something new and fun to do together to change things up. What to do? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered here.

1. Do a movie night.

This is a classic that never gets old. With so many different streaming services out there, from Netflix to Hulu to Disney+, you won’t be running out of movies to watch any time soon. (Plus, as a student, you can sometimes access these streaming services at a discounted or free rate!) Make some popcorn, grab any other snacks you love, and curl up on the couch with your roomie for a few hours of entertainment -- horror, comedy, romance, you name it.

2. Cook a fancy meal together.

This can be a lot of fun, whether you and your roommates are expert chefs or novices. If you have a specific dish you’ve been dying to try your hand at, go for it! If not, there are tons and tons of different dishes you could attempt to make, the recipes for which you can easily access online. Choose a specific dish, figure out what ingredients you need, and take a (safe) trip to the grocery store to pick up what you need.

If you can’t easily access a grocery store or would prefer not to go out at this time, you can totally switch this around and attempt to make a dish with the ingredients you already have at home. This may be a little more challenging, and it may not necessarily yield a great meal, but it can definitely be a fun process!

3. Blast some music and clean the apartment.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the ideal fun thing to do for a night in, but it can be fun (and certainly productive) if you’re in the right mood. Besides, this gives you the chance to blast some of your favorite music -- you and your roommates can each take turns or, better yet, create a playlist of your favorite jams together -- and clean out your whole apartment. By the end of the night, your place will be sparkling clean, and you’ll be able to go to bed feeling accomplished.

4. Go on a mini-adventure.

Traveling far and wide is not the smartest idea right now, but if you can swing a socially distanced mini-trip with just your roomie, you should totally go for it to stave off your boredom. That could mean driving over to a hiking trail and going for a hike together or taking a walk in a local park or neighborhood, all while limiting your run-ins with other people as best as you can. After spending so much time indoors, it’ll be good for you and your roommates to get out in the fresh air for a little bit.

5. Have a game night.

If you and your roommates love to play games, then a game night is perfect. Break out the board games and decks of cards, and play to your heart’s content! If you don’t happen to have any games with you in your apartment, you can order them online. It may take a while to arrive, but this way, you’ll have something to look forward to.

6. Have a crafts night.

Whether or not you and your roommates are artistically talented, a crafts night can be a lot of fun. Sites like Pinterest and Etsy offer a lot of interesting craft ideas and projects that you can take on, so you should have no shortage of inspiration. From knitting, sewing, and crocheting to drawing to painting, there are a lot of different crafts you can do to keep yourself occupied -- and you’ll have something cute to show off when you’re done.

7. Bake!

Everyone’s doing it now -- even people (like me) who never, ever bake (so far, I’ve made an overdone cheesecake and a batch of brownies that turned out to be a really large cookie). There are tons of baking recipes you can choose from online, so don’t hesitate to pick something fun and get your bake on! To make things even more interesting, you and your roommates could do a bake-off and see whose product turns out better!

While you may be longing for the days when you can go out again, you can certainly make the best of your current situation and do something fun with your roommates.