Moving out of your parents is always a big step into adulthood. You are stepping into a whole new world where you are your own boss and most importantly, your own parent. So, you have all your belonging in a few boxes excited to start this brand-new chapter of your life. Being nervous is completely normal and in fact, it would be weird if you’re not.
Embracing your newfound independence is thrilling. No more curfew, restrictions, and rules about how you live life. Not to burst your bubble but once you revel in this new era of life, the freedom to do what you want comes with a few responsibilities and living with a roommate is one of them.
Being roommates is always romanticized in our favourite sitcoms such as Friends and How I Met Your Mother but is it the real deal? Maybe not. Being a roommate is fun, but it is another important relationship that could make or break friendships.
Here are a few tips for living with a roommate; how to tackle the obstacles, setbacks and how to find the perfect roommate while being one yourself.
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
They say communication is key for all healthy relationships and this is true in all cases, including your relationship with your roommate. Hang out with them, maybe grab a cup of coffee or even take a walk or order pizza and make it a date.
Get to know who you will be spending the next few months to even years. Ask what their hobbies are, what kind of life they lead and expect to lead during university, what topics they love to talk about and most importantly, what they are uncomfortable with.
Discuss expectations. Find out what defines a good roommate to them and tell them what you think. Keep in mind that everyone is different in a million different ways and we need to find out how you’re best compatible with each other.
Find out shared interests. Common ground is always the best way to bond with each other. Maybe share an embarrassing moment or even the story of a bad breakup-everyone has those!
2. Share Responsibilities
Living with someone is harder than it sounds. Even the best of friendships is put to test but if there is a healthy level of understanding when it comes to basics such as sharing responsibilities, it always helps the relationship sail smooth.
Create a list of chores and responsibilities and discuss how to go about it. Make a schedule and set it up where both can see. This will help establish clear communication and make life easier for both but they are not a must; decide if you want one, depending on your relationship.
Discuss tiny details such as how long dishes are allowed to be dirty, how often the space should be vacuumed and who’s turn is it to take out the trash. What is most important is that both of you contribute equally into keeping your space tidy and organized.
Discussing financial responsibilities are not always fun but it is one of the most crucial topics of conversation. Decide how you want to split the bill and usually cable and utility bills are sent to one person so make sure your roommate or you contribute to it every month. Getting proactive with bills is always a healthy and crucial practice when it comes to living with someone else.
3. Set Boundaries
Setting physical and relationship boundaries with your roommate is one of the most important steps. Figure out what the common spaces of you share and be respectful of each other’s personal space. For example, don’t play loud music if your roommate is cramming for an exam due tomorrow.
Give prior notice if you have friends coming over so you don’t interrupt the schedules of either. If you are sharing food, always make sure to refill and replace it so one person doesn’t end up buying food all the time.
Also, don’t touch your roommates’ belongings unless you have permission to. You would appreciate the same courtesy if roles were reversed!
If your living space is small, you can step out for a couple of hours to give them personal space for extra brownie points. This can be scheduled if you both feel like it would help you build a stronger relationship to healthy co-living.
Have a healthy relationship but don’t overdo it. Remember the golden rule; too much of a good thing will ruin it.
4. Become Familiar with Your Roommate’s Schedule
It is important to know your roommate and their daily schedule. In fact, this is one of the first things you should discuss. Talk about your sleep patterns, class schedules and what you do after hours so you don’t interrupt each other’s days.
For instance, you wouldn’t want to be disturbed while you’re working on your assignments or if you’re hogging the bathroom when they are in a rush to head out.
The truth is, it would be a miracle if both of your schedules align perfectly. You could be starting your day when they end theirs. If you are not aware of each other’s plan for the day, you could be in major trouble.
Get a board where you can write the schedule for the day and important notes and reminders that your roommate should know. Iron out the logistics and respect each other’s needs to live easy with a roommate.
5. Wear Headphones
Now that you are moving in with a roommate, headphones are your new best friends. This is probably the most useful invention when it comes to getting peace of mind as well as protecting your privacy.
Here are a few reasons why you should invest in headphones before living with someone else, if you don’t already.
You could have the best taste in music but that doesn’t guarantee your roommate will share the same. Vice versa, you could not be enjoying your roommate’s early morning playlist. Best case scenario where you both love the same music, shows and movies they might not want to hear it every time you decide to crank it up. After all, binging is best done alone!
You would not want to be disturbed during exam season or while you’re struggling to finish off an assignment which is due in a couple of hours. Playing loud music or the latest episode of your favourite TV series when you desperately need to focus could come across as a tad insensitive. So, it is important that you respect your roommate’s needs and give them the space they need during crucial moments.
You might have a different schedule or habits from your roommate. Maybe you like music playing or listening to a podcast while sipping on your morning coffee but your roommate might be a fan of silence. Headphones simply make it easier for both of you to live your life the way you want to without having to compromise too much.
Another reason why you should invest in headphones is that you wouldn’t want to be disturbed during the best part of a show because your roommate has friends over, or simply wants to watch something else.
6. Keep an Open Mind
Living with someone is a lot harder than you think. Especially, when they could be a lot different from you. Keeping an open mind and having healthy communication saves a lot of trouble for roommates.
If your roommate is from another part of the world, they might be from a culture vastly different from yours. If you don’t understand certain things they do, have a meeting with them and talk it out and be sensitive to their point of view. It is important that you both feel at home in the space you share.
Different lifestyle choices and habits could ruin your relationship, if you both don’t take the time to empathise and understand each other. For instance, if you like to party and your roommate rather curls up with a book on Friday nights, you need to communicate and find the middle ground which doesn’t upset either one of you.
Being accepting of the opinions and choices of other people is an important lesson in co-living as well as life. After all, being roommates is more about developing a healthy friendship and creating a safe space to be yourselves.
It’s all about being open-minded and saying yes to new experiences! The rule of thumb is to treat them the way you want to be treated.
7. Good Friends Doesn’t Always Make Good Roommates
Just because you are two peas in a pod doesn’t make you the ideal roommate. Of course, it is up to debate but there are a few facts that we should not ignore that will make our case. Maybe your bestie lives a very different life from you and while that is awesome, it might be a bit hard to put up with once you live with it.
Another reason to as why good friends aren’t always the best roomies is that it is a bit hard to have difficult conversations such as personal space, financial responsibilities or even a pile of dirty dishes or a few socks lying on the ground for weeks. You’d much rather confront a stranger than your best friend!
A scary thought about having friends as roommates is that if things go south while you’re living with each other, you could potentially ruin a good friendship. It is important to understand that friendship and a roommate relationship have two different dynamics and expectations can vary.
Sure, living with your friend sounds like the dream but even Joey and Chandler had their fair share of fights. If you think you can make it, make sure to have a meeting with your friend and clearly communicate all of the things discussed in this article. It is always wise to be safe than sorry.
Moving in with a stranger or a friend is a big transition into the real world. You will be open to a lot of new exhilarating experiences and difficult life lessons during this period but that’s what college and adulthood are all about.
From fixing your own meals, keeping your space neat and clean to managing your social life and sharing your space with someone else, adventure awaits you. The tips suggested here would help you adjust but at the end of the day it’s what you learn, unlearn and relearn that would prepare you for life outside of the comfort of home.