If there is any challenge I have faced over the last few years, I’d have to say a biggie would be living with roommates. Never did I think of how difficult it could be just sharing an apartment with someone. A big mistake I made was assuming that just because you are friends with someone that sharing a place would automatically be a pleasant experience too…uuuhh not so.
At first I was going to call this post How To Find A Good Roommate, with signs you should look for and avoid. I changed my mind because I thought it would be a better idea to give my thoughts on how to be a good roommate instead. Based on my experiences with having roommates, here is a rundown of the issues I have personally had and my general guidelines for them.
Establish ground rules.
Communicate what your preferences are and listen to what your roommates preferences are. How do you want to handle chores, splitting rent, utilities, use of furniture and appliances? Whose names are going on the lease and how long do you want to live there? Find common ground and negotiate if you must. Chances are, you will have to make compromises on certain things. That’s just the way life goes. Remember that living with roommates isn’t like living with your parents and siblings.
Pay your own way.
If you splitting rent and utilities, prioritize getting those payed on time. Lack of payments can affect everyone in the home. No one wants to sit in the dark because their irresponsible roommate has failed to pay their part. It’s understandable for people who live paycheck to paycheck to sometimes have due dates fall right before a pay day. If you are going to be paying a few days late, make sure your roommates know that and then pay when you promised to pay. Don’t keep giving them the runaround or excuses time after time, and definitely don’t force or expect them to cover for your portion.
Clean up after yourself.
Don’t be a zoo animal. If you make a mess or leave something laying somewhere it doesn’t belong, clean it up within a reasonable time. You are not living with your parents anymore. No one is going to stay behind you and clean up your messes. Nothing is worse than being forced to live with someone else’s filth or feeling forced to clean up a mess you didn’t make.
Keep common areas neat.
Help keep the living room, dining, kitchen, and bathroom clean. Don’t leave your dishes in the sink forever to attract wildlife. Don’t hog refrigerator or storage space. Don’t leave your wet towels on the bathroom floor. Pick up a mop and broom once a week and help out with dusting, taking out the trash, vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, wiping counter tops, etc. You shouldn’t have to make your roommates go through a circus obstacle course just to get in or out.
If you have to, make a schedule of who does what and when and then honor it. This might sound silly, but it can be necessary. Don’t expect one person to do all these chores all or most of the time. It’s not fair that someone is pulling a lot more weight than another person.
Eat Your Food Only.
Simple rule: If you didn’t buy it yourself then don’t eat it, at least not without permission. Don’t assume that because it’s there, then it’s fair game. No no no no. It’s a nice idea to share food like you did when you were growing up, but it rarely works because you will find that someone usually eats a lot more than someone else. You’ll also find that one person will be less willing to buy and more willing to eat which can create a costly affair for the person buying. Next thing you know, one person will be buying most of the food and getting to eat next to none of it which is never good.
Try to be quiet. Don’t talk loudly on the phone, blast the tv or music, or have loud people over, especially when you know your roommate is sleeping. Never underestimate what a cranky, sleepless person might do to you.
Go outside to smoke if you know if bothers your roommates or is against your leasing contract. Or at the very least, vent it out through your window.
Don’t leave your smoke ashes laying everywhere.
Keep doors and windows locked when you leave.
Don’t use or borrow anything of your roommate’s that you don’t have permission to.
Pick up after any pets you have. Make sure you take them outside to use the bathroom, because if your dog keeps shitting on my bedroom floor, I’ll throw the turds in your pillow.
Use your own body and hair care products unless otherwise has been permitted.
Don’t get out of the shower without drying off and leave your puddles everywhere on the floor.
Pitch in with emptying and replacing the bathroom trash can.
Don’t hog the toilet paper. If you use the last of the toilet paper, it takes 2 seconds to replace it.
Don’t decide to take an hour long hot bath 10 minutes before you know your roommate has to get in there to get ready for work.
Any time you are having guests stay over, make sure it’s ok with your roommates. This includes boyfriends and girlfriends. And for the love of God, don’t let other people practically move in without your roommates being ok with it. And by “practically moving in” I mean those people that aren’t on the lease, don’t help pay anything or clean yet they still seem to be there every day and sleep over most nights. Nothing is worse than people who are trying to stay somewhere to get a free ride. Yes this has happened to me: “Hey Suzy is staying the weekend, just so you know, oh and her bf and their 3 kids too. K???” Next thing you know, they have brought over suitcases and are saying they just need to be there “until they find another apt,” only they do nothing all day and milk it there for as long as they can. Freeloaders… Not Cool!!!
Now having said all that, roommates can be a good thing if you are lucky. It can be easy if you find someone who lives similarly to you and it’s often easier on your wallet when you aren’t paying to live there all by yourself. It can also be nice to have a companion there to sit and watch movies with. However, a lot of people will find themselves living with people who are very different from them which can easily cause tension, drama, or just plain hell. I think having roommates in your 20s can partially be hard because not everyone has developed maturity and a good sense of personal responsibility yet. It could be due to laziness or carelessness, but it could also be because they are clueless. Still it should be no excuse that they can’t learn to be respectful and responsible.
Either way, dealing with roommates has been a good learning experience for me, from the good, to the bad, to the ugly. But all in all, I don’t think I can do it anymore unless I know for a fact that they are responsible and clean people. Sadly it seems like those people are few and far between. So feel free to add your own thoughts or guidelines in the comments if there is any I haven’t mentioned. Also feel free to take this article and share if with your friend, roommates, or use it to think about what changes you can make to be a better roommate.