Last September I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to my family and moved in with my roommate for the next 8 months. I thought it would be A LOT easier than it actually was. Having a roommate has its perks, like coming home and knowing you won’t be alone, but there’s so much to consider. Roommate etiquette is really important, no matter how old you are.
There is definitely a difference between living with a stranger vs someone you’re already friends with, but one is not necessarily easier than the other.
Living with a stranger means that you have to start off with tons more boundaries until you both get comfortable with one another. Throughout your time living together you will get closer and more comfortable but there’s a lot more respect and consideration when you’re not living with your BFF.
When you live with a friend you have to realize that it is not going to be a year-long slumber party. Unless you both have the EXACT same lifestyle, living habits, and living conditions there will be some conflict and resentment. Your best friend is a lot more likely to assume they will get away with leaving a mess. When you live with a friend you move in and forget about boundaries but it’s important to remember that when you live with another person there NEEDS to be boundaries.
I’m an open book, so I can admit that living with my friend was really really hard. It wasn’t like a chick flick where everything’s fun and happy all the time. There’s a lot of conflict, and a lot of trying to figure out how to live together. That being said, we made it out alive and we’re living together again this upcoming school year.
Here’s my (un)official roommate guide:
No matter who you live with, you have to set boundaries right from the start. If you’re not ok with your roomie coming in the bathroom while you’re showering, tell them right from the get-go. You might be comfortable with something that your roommate isn’t, and vice versa. Once the boundaries are set, you BOTH have to respect them.
Messy isn’t Cute
I’m not exactly the neatest person, but I do like things clean (yes, there is a difference). The thing about living with someone else is that you can’t let your mess spread into shared space, restrict it to your personal space. You have to clean up after yourself in the kitchen, bathroom, and shared lounge/living space. You’re roommate doesn’t want to hang out next to your pile of shoes in the kitchen for a month, and they’re definitely NOT your cleaning lady.
This includes keeping things clean. If you spill something on the kitchen/bathroom counter clean it up, don’t leave it for your roommate to deal with. (#EXPOSED: My roommate broke a light bulb in the beginning of May and left all the broken glass in the corner until we moved out at the end of April).
Very few things cause more resentment than dirty dishes. You won’t always be able to wash dishes right after you eat, you might be eating quickly before class or eating dinner after a really late class and need to go to sleep. I’d say set a 12 hour cap for dirty dishes. If you’re already doing your own dishes it won’t kill you to wash a few of your roommates, it’s a nice little gesture. BUT, don’t let them take advantage of this, and don’t take advantage of your roommate washing yours.
One Person’s Guest Isn’t The Other’s
I cannot stress how important it is to let your roommate know when you’re having people over, especially if they’re staying for more than one night. Opening your dorm or apartment door to see it full of people you didn’t expect can be a terrible feeling.
Try to Bond
A good way to get comfortable with your roommate (and get to know them better) is to spend time with them. Compare your schedules and find at least one night a week where you can have dinner together. First dinner idea? Pick up Taco Bell for you both and have a fun night in getting to know each other. Very few things make people happier than Fries Supreme. Little things like this will win you major roommate points and it opens the doors to so many more experiences together. (Check out the SPC Taco Bell offer Here)
Respect is Key
Respecting your roommate is most important. Respect their personal space, their lifestyle, and just them in general. This includes not touching their personal belongings without permission or eating all their food (or throwing their food away). It’s especially important to show respect for your roommate during exam season. Noise and chaos don’t mix with studying.
STORY: My first ever university midterm was at 10:00 am on a Friday and I had 8:00 am class right before. Obviously, I needed to be on time for both so I gave my roomie the heads up and asked her to be a little more quiet than usual when she came home so I could go to bed early. At 4:00 am my roommate and her friend came home laughing, talking, turning the lights on, playing with the vacuum, and making food. After like 40 minutes of noise they went to bed and it took me a while but eventually I fell back asleep. I ended up being so tired I slept through my alarm and made it to my exam with 5 minutes to spare.
That’s my roommate etiquette advice, it really comes down to adjusting to living with someone who doesn’t love you unconditionally despite all your flaws like your family does (sorry that was harsh). Be aware and be considerate and everything will be fine! Send this to your roommate so you’re both on the same page before you move in.