Whether you’re staying in a dorm with an assigned roommate, living in an apartment with a group of friends, or living with a a stranger you found though Craigslist, living 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 back then you were living under somebody else’s rules. 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 rules – Although you think you’ll never need it, a written agreement 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, buying toilet paper and taking out the trash? If you have something in writing, then you won’t be fighting a couple of months later about who said they’d do what when. If you are renting an apartment, a formal contract is critical because finances are involved- you need to agree on how rent is paid and how utility costs are shared. (Read more about setting up a roommate agreement here)

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! If you live in the dorms, your RA can hep mediate dispute.

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.

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