Living with another person is not always easy. It takes effort, reliability, compassion, and—above all—respect. Take the time to get to know your roommate and lay some ground rules before settling in. Doing so will cut out confusion later on and make for a fun, peaceful, and mutually beneficial living arrangement.
1. Comings and goings
In terms of your safety, it’s always good to let someone know your schedule. While you don’t have to give your roommate minute-by-minute updates, cluing one another in will help you avoid misunderstandings or unnecessary worry. It will also give you a clear idea of when it’s OK to have friends over or turn your music up.
2. Cleaning/shopping lists
Keeping a chore list might sound silly at first, but many college roommates benefit from writing down weekly tasks and alternately checking them off. No one wants to live in filth or shoulder cleaning responsibilities alone. Lists can be handy if you and your roommate decide to share common household items, too. Unless it’s written down, it’s easy to forget whose turn it is to buy eggs, milk, or shampoo.
3. Face time
There’s no guarantee that your and your new roommate will be BFF—and that’s OK. Some one-on-one time is necessary, however, as it will allow you to catch up and take care of any outstanding house “business.” Even if it’s only a quick lunch once a week, make sure that you’re not passing like ships in the night.
4. Responsible living
Let’s face it: College kids are broke. Even in the unlikely event that your roommate’s wealthy parents want to pay your house bills, there’s no excuse for hiking the heat up to 90 or using ten paper towels to clean up a spill. You’ll likely begin to find out on your own (if you haven’t already) that hurting the environment—and worse, your wallet—is simply not cool. Make sure that your roommate is on board with practicing habits that are both accountable and economical.
5. Personal values and “deal breakers”
The beauty of college life is that it exposes students to all kinds of challenging beliefs. Understand that your living situation will likely be no different. If there are things that you absolutely cannot tolerate from a roommate, be upfront with that information. Also, know that your roommate will have large and small pet peeves of their own. Respecting one another’s boundaries from the start will ensure a positive experience for as long as you live together. If in the end you find that you must part ways, make sure to do so peaceably and permanently (i.e. no petty arguments or lingering debts).