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Getting Along With Roommates

Tips for Keeping the Peace When You Live With Others

If you’ve ever lived with a roommate, chances are you have a couple horror stories to tell. Whether your roommate is a friend or someone you first met when they moved in, you don’t really know a person until you’ve lived with them for awhile. Little quirks you never thought were a big deal can seem like seriously annoying habits to people who spend so much time—and in such close quarters—with one another.

Before you move in with someone, it’s important to have a mutual understanding of each other’s boundaries—doing a little work up front can help ensure you live out your lease in relative ease. So, in the spirit of peaceful living, we’ve put together a few of our favorite tips for coexisting harmoniously with your roommates:

Create a Roommate Agreement

You don’t necessarily have to put pen to paper, but it’s important to at least come up with a verbal roommate agreement. This should include things like how chores are divided, which groceries (if any) and household cleaning products will be shared, and when quiet hours are. You may want to spend some time, as well on significant others and friends—are they welcome in the apartment? How often and for how long? Can they spend the night? It’s better to be on the same page from the very beginning, rather than have to deal with uncomfortable situations as they arise.

Communicate

Are you cheesed at your roommates for eating your food? For leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sink? Don’t hold things in. It’s better to hash things out as they occur, rather than let resentment build. Jot down a list of the things that are bothering you and why, and call a roommate meeting where you can sit down and discuss any issues calmly and rationally. Try not to make it sound like you’re blaming them or judging them for the things that are bothering you—most people aren’t terribly receptive to criticism if they’re immediately on the defensive. And be sure to listen to any complaints they may have (because they will probably have some of their own) with an open mind.

Create Financial Agreements

When the lease and utility bills are in one person’s name, it can be easy for the others to let these monthly payments slide. This, of course, is definitely not fair to the roommates who are on the line if things don’t get paid. Draw up an agreement—preferably in writing—detailing who is responsible for how much and when payment is due. Pay your part on time, always. Seriously…this is the easiest way to avoid any sort of enmity amongst roommates. If you have trouble remembering when things are due, create a calendar with the amount you owe and the due date for each month.

Understand Your Relationship

Maybe you and your roommates are friends, or maybe you’re just some people who live together. Ideally you’ll get to know each other well enough to enjoy each other’s company, but it’s also important to realize that living together doesn’t mean you’re obligated to be best friends and hang out all the time. Pay attention to your relationship with your roommates as it develops, and take cues from one another. Sharing such a small space with multiple people can tend to feel claustrophobic, so it’s necessary to give everyone as much space as you/they need. And speak up! If you feel like you need some alone time, let your roommates know. And be willing to reciprocate when they need the same.

Respect Each Other

This may be a given, but as it’s the most important part of living with roommates, it warrants a mention. You can make all the agreements you want, but a communal living situation will never work if there isn’t mutual respect. This means respecting each other’s space, food, and possessions, of course, but also respecting the differences in each other’s personalities and living styles. Respect the fact that everyone is different, and while you can (and should) communicate with one another to resolve any issues, ultimately, you can’t change your roommates. Accept each other as unique individuals, talk things out when they become difficult…and embrace the diversity each of you brings to the table!

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