Whether you’re staying in a dorm with assigned roommate, living in an apartment with a group of friends, or you advertised for a roommate in the local newspaper, living comfortably with other people can be a challenge. “Yeah, yeah, yeah” you say, you had six group home placements and you know all about roommates – but then you were living under somebody else’s rules and now it’s up to you to establish sensible guidelines that will let you all live in harmony together.
1. Be realistic – don’t expect your roommate to be your best friend. Get to know them. Have a conversation about what you expect from each other.
2. Set up ground – Although you think you’ll never need it, a written contract can be extremely useful. Agree on quiet hours, rules about guests, borrowing clothing and other belongings, and chores. Who is responsible to cleaning the kitchen? Who buys the toilet paper? Who takes out the trash? If you have something in writing, then you won’t be squabbling a couple of months down the line about who said they’d do what when. If you are renting an apartment, a contract is critical because finances are involved- you need to agree on how rent is paid and how utility costs are shared.
3. Communicate! – Speak up about any issues that come up. If you need some quiet time during exam week, tell your roommate before they come in with seven friends for an all-night party. If you’re in a rush and eat your roommate’s last bagel, apologize and replace it. Handle conflicts when they first come up, don’t sit around stewing and making yourself angrier – your roommate might not know you are angry at all!
4. Compromise and be Considerate – You are NOT living alone! Everyone has feelings. Everyone has different ways of doing things. Honor your roommate’s rights and expect them to do the same. If you need to bend a little, bend a little. Choose your battles wisely.