Boy, have I had a challenge during these four years of college. I’ve lived with six different roommates (one was a family to whom I was a nanny) and those six experiences have taught me how to be an awesome roommate. Here are my tips for having a great roomie relationship!
If you’re starting college, or in the middle of your college experience, or you’ve already started your career and are living with someone else, here is how to make the most of your experience.
1. Know how to take out the trash.
When it gets full, don’t let it just sit there, praying your roommate will take it out and spare you the gross agony. Suck it up, take a breath (not near the trash), and take it out yourself. The fact is, it has to be done. Now, if it comes to the point where you are the one constantly taking it out, speak up. Call a roomie meeting and figure out a schedule or trade off. Ignoring the problem will only make you resentful of your roommates and make the entire living experience unbearable.
2. Be courteous of sleep/wake times.
Maybe you’re an early riser and like to get ready to the beat of your favorite songs, or maybe you’re a night owl and like watching reruns of Friends until 2 in the morning (guilty). Whatever your late night/early morning habit is, be courteous and remember you’re living with other people. When you move in with your roomie, ask them what their routine is and ask them what bothers them/what an acceptable music or TV level is.
3. Be courteous of common rooms. No one wants to come out to the living room to relax and watch their favorite TV show only to have to constantly clean off the coffee table of candy wrappers, food crumbs, sticky substances, and textbooks. You are sharing this space, which includes everything inside the space. If you don’t want to clean up after your roommates, don’t make them clean up after you.
4. Do your own dishes.
If you’re the type of person who lets your dishes pile up in the sink, break that habit. Dishes don’t take long to start to stink and that smell can waft throughout the house. Like number three, if you don’t want to clean up after your roommates, don’t make them clean up after you. We all have our own responsibilities. Know yours.
5. Ask before you borrow something.
So you ran out of shampoo, laundry soap, butter, insert random supplies here. Do you a) reach into the hallway closet or fridge and grab your roommate’s supply (they won’t notice a little bit is gone) or, b) do you ask them first? The correct answer, readers, is b. Ask, ask, ask! It not only shows respect, it shows you are trustworthy. And trustworthiness is a highly desired quality in roomie relationships.
6. Get it on in your alone time.
We’ve all had this problem (unless you’re single and fabulous): you want to have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but your roommate is home. What do you do? Wait! Before you ever even have this problem, establish schedules with your roommate. When will they have class or work or plans with friends? When they are out of the house, then you are free to partake in all your romantic-ness. Do not, heaven forbid, let loose your bodily cravings while your roommate is home. No one wants to hear the sound effects. It’s uncomfortable, folks.
7. Don’t be a hermit.
The best kind of roommate is the one who is never there. Ha, kidding (kind of)! Don’t be the type of roommate who is always home. Yes, you are paying your half of the rent, but go out! Get out of the house, go to class and be on campus for awhile, spend time with friends, etc. Everyone loves their alone time. Don’t you think that includes your roommate?
8. Be thoughtful.
Did you make a little too much for dinner? How about offering some to your roommate? Does your roommate look overwhelmed with their 20 bazillion grocery bags? How about asking if they need help (especially if you live up a couple flights of stairs)? These tiny, yet very thoughtful, offers can be the glitter on top of the glue that helps your roommate relationship stay pleasant.
9. The Friend Rule.
So, you want to have a friend or two over to make drinks or watch a movie, etc. The problem is, your roommate(s) are home. Do you have them over anyway or talk to your roommates about the plans first? The answers, readers, is always the latter. I’m not saying you have to ask permission to have friends over, but this is one of those things you want to establish before the roommate relationship even begins. How often does your roommate have friends over? How late do they usually stay? Do things get rowdy or stay fairly quiet and civil? Maybe you can ask your roommates, politely, if they can scram (kidding!) while you have your friend over. Either way, figure it out so neither of you are bothered by the frequency the other has friends over.
10. No gossiping.
If you must talk about your roommate negatively, make sure you are out of the house and no where near them. It’s uncomfortable when they overhear you talking trash about them; this leads to drama. While we’re on this topic, if you do have something bad to say about your roommate, check yourself. Why are you mad at them and is there anything you can do to make the situation better instead of resorting to gossiping? My rule after having had six roommates, most of which were women who loved to talk about others, is to never leave time for things to build up. Always, always, always talk about any issues you are having, but do so in a non-threatening way.
11. Buy your share of supplies.
You both use toilet paper, trash bags, foil, plastic baggies, soap, etc. The way I’ve always done it is we’ve traded off who would buy it (ex. me this month, them next month). This way you’re saving money and, awww, learning to share. Reminder: never let it get to the point where there is no toilet paper in the house. When you’re squatting on the toilet after an unpleasant experience digesting Mexican food, you don’t want to look over and see there is no toilet paper.
12. Be respectful of pets.
Don’t ever feed your roommate’s cat, dog, hamster, fish, etc. without asking. Did you know chocolate = death for dogs? Or that some cat’s stomachs can’t handle any kind of variety whatsoever? Or that it’s possible to overfeed a fish? You never know what diet restrictions or allergies your roommate’s pet may have, so don’t chance it. That said, make sure you don’t leave bits of bread on the ground to mold, or old carrots on the living room floor. Animals are curious and will try anything if it’s there.
What are your suggestions for being an awesome roommate? What was your worst roommate experience ever?