Tips for Living with Roommates

Room with twin over beds

Moving away for college often means living with roommates for the first time. This can be a difficult transition and will likely require some lifestyle changes. Here are some tips to have the best possible experience with your new roommates!

1. Choose your roommates carefully.

You won’t always get a choice in who your roommates are, but if you do, be sure to put a lot of thought into it. Someone could be a fantastic friend that you love hanging out with, but you may be incompatible as roommates, and living together could actually strain your relationship rather than enhance it. When you’re considering living with someone, sit down and have a serious talk with them to see if you agree about basic lifestyle choices such as cleanliness and alone time. That way, you’ll know ahead of time whether moving in together is a good idea or not!

2. Understand the financials and shared items.

Depending on whether you’re living in a dorm, apartment or house, there may be a decent amount of money-related things you’ll need to figure out. Some examples are:

  • How is rent being split?
  • Who pays rent to the landlord?
  • Does everyone need to send their portion of rent separately, or will they need to be combined together first?
  • Who will set up the utilities?
  • Whose name will the utilities be in?
  • How will the utility bills be paid?
  • Are common items such as dishware shared, or will everyone bring their own?
  • The same goes for furniture; who is providing what?
  • Will household items such as toilet paper be split between all roommates?

Knowing who owns what and what things you can and cannot use right from the beginning will save a lot of time and trouble later on. I’d also recommend setting up a digital expense management system such as Splitwise to make it easy to keep track of bills and purchases.

3. Sign a roommate agreement.

Hopefully, by the time you’re moving in, you’ll have some idea of basic expectations based on the previous tips. However, it’s always a good idea to create and sign a roommate agreement form right at the beginning of your lease to make sure everybody is on the same page. This is where you’ll really get into the details about things like guest policies, quiet hours and dividing up cleaning duties. It’ll be great to refer back to if disagreements arise later on.

4. Have monthly roommate meetings.

Even when you’ve signed a roommate agreement at the start, circumstances might change and new things you hadn’t thought about before might come up once you actually start living together. Having a monthly roommate meeting to re-evaluate expectations can help prevent resentment over little things building up. Does one of your roommates always leave the door unlocked when they go out? Has someone been stealing your toothpaste without permission? Has nobody been taking out the trash? If you have regular check-ins with your roommates with an understanding that the meeting is a no-judgment zone to air small grievances, these small issues can be resolved before they have the chance to become larger issues.

5. Be considerate.

Living with roommates requires following some common courtesies in order to respect those who live with you. For example, if you’re having someone over, send out a quick text notice — even if you’ve agreed you don’t need to ask before inviting people over, it’s still nice to know if someone else will be in your living space to avoid surprises. You should also be conscious of noise:

  • Always use headphones if you’re listening to something on your phone or computer.
  • Don’t go banging dishes around to make a three-course meal at midnight while others are trying to sleep.
  • Don’t let your blaring alarm keep going on forever as you work up the courage to get out of bed.

Remember to treat your roommates the way you’d want your roommates to treat you.

6. Have fun!

Although your roommates don’t have to be your best friends, it could be a very long year if you never say a word to each other the whole time. Plan to spend some time together to find your common interests! If you’re a homebody, plan a pajama party movie night or play a new-age board game together. If you like to go out, go shopping together for a new centerpiece or try out a new restaurant nearby. It can also be a lot of fun to have cooking or baking nights, or even just a dedicated time for everyone to clean the house together! Study nights are also never a bad option.

Living with roommates can be one of the best or one of the worst parts of your college experience. By having clear communication from the start and regular check-ins, you can make sure you start off on the right foot. By being considerate and taking the time to have fun with your roommates, you can make sure that a positive experience continues throughout your entire lease. Good luck!