How to be a Good Roommate
One of the main rites of passage of being in your twenties, starting in college, is learning to live with a roommate. Gone are the days of daily family dinners, Mama helping with laundry, or the cleaners visiting your room weekly. Time to be a big girl (or boy)!
Though of course, everyone grows up with different household chores or responsibilities, no matter what level of pampered you are, the jig will be up, at least a little bit, once you live with someone who you aren’t related to (aka someone who essentially isn’t required to love you unconditionally).
Looking back over the last 10 years, living with roommates has been some of the best learning experiences for me. I have lived with old friends, new friends, friends of friends, randoms, randoms who have become friends, best friends, college friends, high school friends, alone…and yes, some of these people have fallen into more than one category of course. I have also dealt with it all from being kicked out of my dorm room on the regular when her boyfriend would visit every weekend so they could knock boots (gross), pets, different levels of cleaning, cooking together, teaching others how to do laundry, odd house guests, random move out dates, the works.
All in all, I have been very lucky with my roommates and I have become very close with most of them. Over the years though, I have collected some habits that I think have made me a better roommate as time has gone on so I have decided to share them in hopes that it could help relieve some stressful situations for anyone out there. The place you call home is your sanctuary, it should be a safe haven to relax and feel comfortable, not a source of aggravation. Granted, we don’t all make the money we would like to live alone nor do we necessarily fall into situations where we can live with the people we would like to (only in a perfect world…) so we have to make do with what we got! Check out below for ways to make this easier!
- To have a good roommate, be a good roommate
My mom has always said, to have a good friend, you need to be a good friend and I have found that the same goes with roommates. The “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” philosophy can go a long way. Don’t expect things without setting the example yourself.
I’m first to admit I am not the best sharer. In fact, my sister and I could probably account our biggest fights to clothes. (Ridiculous but true). I also grew up with her being seven years older, so that means we never really had a phase in life where we fought over toys. I mean, while I was into American Girl dolls, she was in high school. So until the clothes issue rolled around, we never had much interest in sharing things. This definitely made me used to having my belongings a certain way and I still hate wanting them and not knowing where they are or not having something available to me but hey, that’s life. There are just some things you need to get over and learning to share will be one of those things that just makes everything all around easier.
- Do not nickel and dime
Splitting bills to an exact amount, totally acceptable. I mean those puppies aren’t cheap! (Especially if you live in San Francisco). Same goes with household, community items like toilet paper or paper towels. (I still remember being shocked when I learned how much TP costs!) But be willing to pick up a bottle of wine or some dish soap and not go straight to Venmo or Square Cash. Of course, this works only given you have a roommate who will recognize it and be grateful, not taking advantage but if you have that in a roommate, I promise being more giving and less anal when it comes to small items will absolutely create a better rapport and community in your home.
- Be considerate
Don’t have friends over when they have a big day at work the next day or don’t hog the bathroom in the morning. Being considerate will go a long way and will only help you when it is your turn to ask for something extra like a lowering of the music or even a ride to the airport!
- Do not be lazy
Follow this rule particularly when it comes to the community areas, most especially the bathroom and the kitchen. These two areas can get pretty dirty, harbor a lot of bacteria and are very commonly used so it is best to do your share, keep it clean! Don’t let your dishes sit for more than a day and always leave the bathroom in a state that you would feel comfortable using it. The “I’ll just do it later” simply just doesn’t fly as much when living with roommates.
- Set boundaries
I know I said it is important to share but you are also entitled to set boundaries that you are comfortable with and in turn, should respect the boundaries your roommate has set as well. I’m not big on sharing clothes unless it’s for a special occasion, I make that known. Everyone has quirks and things and that is definitely okay but try to mindful of other people’s and honest about your own.
- Be responsible
Pay your rent and bills on time. No excuses. It is no one else’s responsibility to cover for you. This is a part of being an adult. Pull your weight.
- Talk maturely
If you have an issue, do not accuse, yell, or ignore. Address the problem with class and say everything as nicely and respectfully as possible. It will make all the difference.
- Don’t assume, always ask
Even if you know they would be okay with you using her new blender or borrowing her umbrella, just ask. It’s respectful thing to do. Unless, they say you don’t have to, it just is the safe route and a way to avoid any future conflict.
- Relinquish your desire to control
People have different taste when it comes to décor so let it go. You are not in the position to control every detail or have everything be exactly as you want it. You absolutely need to compromise. This is an excellent life skill to develop too, especially for when you live with a significant other.
- Take solace in your alone time
Make sure you take some time to shut the door to your room and let yourself just be. Listen to music, binge watch Netflix, organize your closet or read a book. Having a moment to yourself and some time a part will make the time together more fun.
- Accept that it won’t always be perfect
There will always be something that is slightly annoying or that you would like to change. Don’t bother looking for perfection. You won’t find it. It doesn’t exist.
I hope you found these tips helpful. I promise they come straight from experience. In a perfect world, if I could afford it, I would be able to have one last apartment all to myself, totally decorated the way I want it. My big girl place before I live with a boy. Alas, San Francisco thinks it’s too cool for school and rent is just off the charts. Either way though, I’m very lucky to live in such a great city and am happy that I have all the roommate experience that I do so once it is time to move in with a significant other, I will be well prepared!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JENNA WHITECAR
I work in marketing for a technology company in San Francisco. I earned my degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University where I graduated in three years with honors. With a passion for art, travel, food, fitness, fashion, and of course, writing, I started my lifestyle blog, Jenna Rose Colored Glasses, where I aim to create a creative, fun, relatable space for women to get inspired and share ideas. I am also a freelance content writer for various businesses and am working on a novel.