This is the last day of the first week of the Freshman’s Guide to College, and today we’re talking about how to be a great roommate!
Going to school is so exciting, and getting to have roommates or housemates is honestly one of the best parts. I definitely love living with my husband, but I also loved (and miss a little) living with the girls at the condo I was at for my first two years in school.
Whether you’re going into residence in the new school year and will have a roommate you’ve never met before or going to be renting a house with a bunch of friends, there are some things you can do to make sure that it is as smooth as a transition as possible.
So, through my experiences with myself and my amazing housemates, I’ve compiled some easy steps to becoming the roommate ever.
1. Set appropriate boundaries
Do this BEFORE you all move in. Making rules halfway through the school year is awkward and never goes over well, because it can be hurtful to feel like someone is making rules because they found stuff that they don’t like about you. Talk about things like:
- what time the house should be quiet
- which things are common to the house (the blender in the kitchen) and which are only yours (the cookies in the cupboard)
- What are the rules surrounding things like parties and alcohol. For instance, at our house, we had a strict no under-age drinking rule and no getting drunk in the house.
- Who does which chores and how often
- anything else you think will be important!
2. Respect your roommate’s stuff.
Your stuff is your stuff, and their stuff is theirs. It’s that easy.
Don’t use their coffee mugs without washing them afterwards, don’t go and borrow clothes without clearing it first. Respect boundaries, respect space, and don’t expect to use their stuff and not let them use yours. There’s nothing more annoying than going for something and realizing it’s not there because your room mate is using it, or got it dirty.
3. Respect their studying.
If you’re roommates with someone, you’re going to be studying in the same small space quite often. It’s important to be respectful of the other person. Don’t chat with them unless you two need a break. Don’t hum or play music. If you’re studying languages, don’t mumble under your breath–go somewhere else where you can practice speaking aloud without disturbing anyone. Just be respectful.
4. Understand that school is not a competition against your roommate.
If your roommate is complaining about her midterms, don’t interject about how yours are 20x harder, or you have midterms AND assignments this week and she’s so lucky to just have two midterms. That doesn’t help anything–no one asked you. Let her rant, then when she’s done move on. If you really need to rant, then rant. Just never compare, unless you’re going to be building up the other person, like “Man, I don’t know how you do it–I’m struggling with my course load, and you have twice as many assignments as I do, easily!”
Living with a roommate can be difficult as it is, but you really don’t need the added tension that comes with an awkward rivalry.
5. Not everything needs to be made into a big deal.
You don’t particularly like the look of the lamp that your roommate is using to decorate the room? Let it go. Someone always loads the dishwasher differently than you? It doesn’t matter. don’t pick on all of the little things, and then when there’s an actual issue people are more likely to listen to you. Don’t be the boy who cried wolf.
6. Do things with your roommate!
Organize a games night, or a movies and ice cream night! Have people over to your room, host a snack potluck, or treat your roommate to pizza one night. Have inside jokes, and actually spend time together. If you’re really good friends with your roommate, foster that friendship! Starting a work-out plan? Get your roommate involved! The girls at my house all did the Insanity challenge together last January, and let me tell you–it was quite the bonding experience. You can be friends, sure, but until you’re screaming-at-Tanya-and-trying-really-hard-not-to-swear-friends, you haven’t reached that next level of friend-intimacy.
It’s actually crazy how quickly your perspective about someone changes when you go from just being in the same place to actually doing things together.
Don’t just co-exist. Make your living space a place of community and friendship!
7. Don’t do everything together
People need space. Some people are naturally more group-oriented than others, and some people have more stressful school days than others. If you pitch an idea and people don’t jump on board, don’t pressure them into joining you. Let them go to their room and relax.
8. Let your roommate have their own friends
This is kind of going along with point 6. But this is crucial. Odds are, if you live together and go to the same school, you’re going to have overlapping friend groups. But don’t force yourself into all of their social outings. If they’re mentioning their hanging out at a friends’ house, don’t automatically jump up and say “Oh sweet! I’ll come along too!” Yes, you live together, but that doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s OK!
So use discretion. Sometimes, of course. Go along. But make sure to always give them time with their friends alone.
9. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Now this might just be my house, but if you’re not keeping things clean, no one is happy with you. And besides, even in messy houses, no one’s going to be mad at you for being clean.
But honestly–I think that being dirty or leaving dishes around isn’t just about the mess. It’s selfish. When you leave pots and pans on the stove after your night for cooking dinner what you’re saying is “My time is too important to waste on doing dishes, and yours isn’t, so do my dishes for me.”
Which leads into the last point…
10. Just be a good person.
None of us are naturally good friends. We are all selfish beings, and are all motivated by laziness and that selfishness. But understand that when you are living with someone you have the power to make the experience good or bad.
Is your roommate insecure about something? Don’t point it out. Instead, compliment her on improvement in that area. For instance, I am extremely inflexible. It’s actually insane. But I can touch my toes for the first time in 9 years, and Hillary is extremely encouraging in that, even though it’s really not that big of a deal–but it makes me feel super appreciated and loved when she notices things like that.
Obviously this isn’t a “fix-all” list for roommates and housemates. But I hope that these help you, and if you have any points you’d add let me know!
What are some of your best tips for roommates? How do you keep living in harmony?
Enjoy this post? Check out the rest of The Freshman’s Guide to College:
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 1: Back-to-School Shopping
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 2: Choosing your Course Schedule
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 3: Saving on Textbooks
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 4: Making Friends
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 5: Roommates
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 6: Exams
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 7: Packing for College
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 8: Staying Healthy in School
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 9: Time Management
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 10: Staying in Touch with Family and Friends