Living with Roomies: The Dos and the Definite Don'ts

Whether you’re moving in with your best friend(s), a random person, or a sibling, there are some guidelines you should stick to when sharing your space with others.

The Dos

1. Discuss Expenses

The main reason you’re moving in with someone may be due to financial reasons and the want to save money. This is why you need to talk to your roommate(s) about the costs you’ll share and what you plan on spending individually. You’ll need to buy groceries, pay for your own bills, and utilities, and plan out how you’re both going to contribute. First and foremost, iron out these details to avoid future headaches!

2. Clean Clean Clean!

Whether you’re moving to your first place, a new place, or even entering college, it’s important to know how to clean and figure out a schedule with the person(s) you live with. A dorm makes things a bit easier when you just have to worry about the room and bathroom you share. Add a kitchen and common area, and things may get a little overwhelming. Between cooking, keeping your items in order, and sharing the bathroom, there’s a lot to keep up with when it comes to keeping your space clean and tidy. We suggest having a chore chart. This will keep things organized and tell you when you or your roommate are supposed to take out the trash, wash the dishes, and scrub the bathroom. It'll (hopefully) ensure fairness when cleaning and help avoid any conflict that could revolve around the topic. 

3. Alone Time is Necessary

Personal space is key to keeping your sanity. Each person has their own set of boundaries. Find a good balance between time needed for yourselves and socialization. It’s a good idea to sit down and discuss that as much as you’re excited to be living together and to be able to hang out as often as you want, it’s just as important to have personal space.

4. Have Understanding

Whether this is your first roommate or fifth, you have to keep an open mind. Everyone was brought up differently when it comes to cooking, cleaning, and personal space. It’s important to look at things from each other's perspective when you have a disagreement or need to discuss some boundaries.

5. Set Some Rules From the Get-Go

Look, all of what I said sounds simple and easy, but in order to go through with all of this, set some ground rules from day one. Talk about your work or class schedules and who will be home when. See if it’s okay to have get-togethers from time to time and if there’s a day that people need to get the heck out. Come up with a cleaning routine of who has to do what each week, or maybe you’re lucky and you moved in with a clean freak who wants to do it all - we all have a friend like this, don’t we? Try to split chores and other household duties as evenly as possible and have some check-ins to make sure everyone’s happy and content with their living situation. Open communication is a must in any situation, so don’t be afraid to talk things out.

Now that we have the dos, we need to dive into the don'ts right away because I refuse to let you go into this situation blind.

The Don'ts

1. Choose Your Battles

You're probably like, "what does that even mean"? Whether you've been friends with the person for years or you met two seconds ago, think before you fight with them. Think about the weight of the conversation and if it's actually super minor or is something that even needs to be addressed. 

2. Sharing is Caring, Well - If You Want To

Look, what's in the kitchen and common space is usually known to be shared and nothing is really off-limits. But when it comes to the food in the fridge or your toothpaste and deodorant - that's a different story. Speak with your roommate about what you're cool with them using and be sure there is a basic understanding of what shouldn't be shared. Some people don't see an issue with sharing everything -- if you and your roommate want to do that, then great! However, it's more common for people to keep some things to themselves. When you first move in, mention this in your discussion of what the ground rules are, and if any issues arise, think about number one in this section and if it's worth fighting over. But if someone's using your deodorant as they please...don't let them get away with that.

3. Don't Violate Anything in the Rental Agreement

If you're living with roommates or even alone, this is an important DO NOT to remember. Follow all the rules in the leasing agreement and be considerate of the fact that if you break them, you're not only putting yourself at risk of being evicted but your roommate(s) as well. If they break the rules, don't be afraid to have a polite but firm conversation about what they are doing. If they continue, speak with your property manager and see your options.

This is a big move (literally and figuratively). Give yourself the time to get used to being in your place and sharing it with someone else. There will be a conflict here and there, but that's normal in any situation like this. As long as you communicate with each other and have some guidelines and understanding from the start, everything will be okay. This is an exciting step in your life - embrace it!