Moving in with a new roommate can be very exciting—but living together may not be as easy as you think. Whether you’re an upperclassmen sharing off campus housing with friends or relocating to a new city for your first job, you need to know how to coexist happily with your housemate and nip problems in the bud.
Be careful who you move in with
You may think your best friend will make the perfect roommate, but you could be in for a rude awakening. What if you have afternoon classes and sleep late, while she’s an early riser and likes to listen to loud music? You may be good friends, but that doesn’t mean you know how often she takes out the trash or cleans the toilet. Interview lots of people before making the big decision, you might find your ideal roommates are people you don’t know well.
Stop problems before they start
Before you move in together or during the first week, gather everyone and have an apartment meeting. Discuss rules and agreements. Whether this means quiet hours after 10PM or buying shared groceries, have this talk early. Communicate face to face, where you’ll both be most honest.
Create a chore sheet
Your level of cleanliness may not be the same as your roommates. Everyone needs to compromise and a chore sheet can help you do that. Some people say college can be preschool for grown ups—well, so what? If you want to mark off chores with star stickers, go for it! Just make sure everyone is pulling their weight and no one’s growing resentful.
Gossiping to others about your roommate may feel good at first as you get your frustrations out, but usually the other person finds out. It’s better to communicate directly; if you don’t, resentments will pile up. Keep your comments short and to the point and let her react to what you’ve said. Try not to get defensive and just listen—she’s not the only one who has to make adjustments.
When it gets bad…
Sometimes living arrangements just don’t work out, and you may want to bring in a mediator. This shouldn’t be someone who will take sides, like your best friend, or her mother. Rather, a mutual friend, a counselor from campus, or a resident adviser. Sit down and discuss the problems. If worst comes to worst, see what you can salvage. Don’t let a bad situation ruin your relationship. Check to see if you can switch dorms or break your lease.
Does she know that it bothers you?
She can’t read your mind. You can’t blame her if you didn’t tell her.
Has she had a bad week?
Consider this before putting her on the defensive.
Has she had a personal upset?
If her behavior has changed drastically, she may be going through a tough time. You may have the impulse to reach out.