CollegeDorms & Living

Roommate Rulebook

Happy young female college friends walking outdoors

Follow these guidelines for an easy transition to life with roommates. Here are 18 rules for living with someone else peacefully:

  1. Communication is key—seems simple enough (and it should be) but people tend to hide their feelings and the tension just keeps growing and growing. Don’t hold things in and expect the other person to figure out what they are doing wrong because that’s NOT going to happen. EVER.
  2. Discuss what food (if any) you want to share—this is the cause of many dysfunctional roommate situations. There is nothing that makes a college student angrier than their roommate eating their ramen—25¢ is a lot when you’re broke.
  3. It’s okay not to hang out—just because you live together does not obligate the two of you to spend all of your time together. Freedom to hang out separately is a good thing.
  4. Learn to let go—set aside your pride. If something annoys you, take a breath and ask yourself if it’s worth getting into a huge fight that will ruin your friendship.
  5. Good friends do not always equal good roommates—and good roommates do not always equal good friends. You can have a roommate that you only hang out with while you are at home. Sometimes that best friend you thought would be a dream to live with has really annoying habits and being around them 24/7 is too much for your friendship to handle.
  6. Exchange Emergency Info—this is something you don’t really think about, but it’s super important. Who should they call if you are injured or have an allergic reaction? What are you allergic to? Give them a heads up if there is someone with whom they shouldn’t share your info or whereabouts.
  7. Use the buddy system—If you’re going home for the weekend, going to be out all night, or going to be gone longer than usual, give them a heads up so they aren’t worried about you. Also, let them know if you’re going to have company.
  8. Discuss how you both do things—if you have a very specific way of doing something, talk it out and make sure y’all are on the same page. Work out who is responsible for what task and how those tasks are expected to be completed. Does cleaning the bathroom include just wiping down the sink or do you expect it to be mopped and the toilet cleaned?
  9. Don’t be afraid to share downtime—it doesn’t have to be awkward to sit in the room doing nothing together. You don’t have to have a full night of fun planned with your room-mate. Just do your own thing in each other’s company, that way you don’t feel so alone.
  10. Have a “DO NOT” talk—it’s so important to establish boundaries. A lot can be accomplished by simply sitting down and talking about what you will not accept or don’t want in your apartment. Small arguments can be avoided a lot quicker if you do this when you first move in.
  11. Discuss how to deal with certain situations—if your roommate has had a bad day, are they the type of person that wants to be left alone or comforted? If you are having a serious conversation on the phone, do you want privacy?
  12. Learn to live with them—some habits aren’t going to change. If it is something small that just happens to bother you but isn’t truly affecting the way you live, accept that it’s just who they are and learn to let it go, laugh it off, and live with it.
  13. Wear headphones—no, your roommate probably doesn’t want to hear your music, despite how good you may believe your favorite band is. If they are studying or trying to watch/listen to their own thing, don’t bother them by blaring yours.
  14. Clean like you’re expecting company—there is a certain level of cleaning you do when your parents visit or your landlord stops in. Clean your space weekly to that extent to avoid issues with your roommates. Plus, there is nothing that relieves stress quite like a clean, clutter-free living space.
  15. Give each other some space—Your roommate deserves some alone time as well. Don’t make them feel as if they have to leave the room to be alone. If you notice they are wanting some solitude, be respectful and step out for a bit to give them a break.
  16. Do your duty—If you drink the last of the coffee and your roommates haven’t had any yet, it takes two seconds to reset the pot. If you use the last of the toilet paper, PUT A NEW ROLL OUT. There is nothing worse than running out of toilet paper while you’re already on the toilet.
  17. Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes—Leaving notes for your roommate to pick up their trash or clean something never comes across right. If you have an issue, tell them face-to-face, don’t hide behind your post-it.
  18. Give them a heads up—if you are having a tough time or are on the brink of a breakdown (it’s college, it happens to all of us), give them a heads up. You don’t want to snap at them or burst into tears at the smallest thing because they didn’t know you were having a bad day and said something that tipped you over the edge.

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