Roommates are great for a lot of things, such as party buddies, your own personal spy network and late-night conversations. However, anytime you throw a group of people from different backgrounds together for an extended length of time, problems are bound to come up. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been best friends since first grade or if you met the day you moved in, learning to live with anyone is tricky.
By striving to be a good roommate, though, your roommate experience will likely be one that you look back on fondly. Here are few tips on how to be a good roommate.
1. Respect one another’s traditions and beliefs
Your roommate may not celebrate the same holidays as you. They may prefer to eat dinner later than you want to, or their belief system will most likely be different from yours. This doesn’t mean you can’t get along, however. Just like in any other relationship, respect is crucial in establishing friendship, or at the very least, civility.
2. Decide — on the first day — how you will handle expenses like groceries
As soon as everyone arrives, leave your unpacked boxes for an hour and sit down together to establish a few ground rules. Will you each handle your own grocery shopping? Will you take turns buying milk and bread? Are there any dishes or small appliances (like a toaster) that your apartment needs? How do you feel about other people using your shampoo? Use a calendar or checklist to keep track of whose responsibility it is to buy toilet paper (or any other shared expense) next. Trust me, it will simplify your life.
3. Clean up after yourself
Your mom isn’t going to do your laundry or wash a batch of dishes for you anymore, and you can be sure your roommates won’t take on the role of surrogate mother. Most roommate squabbles occur because someone repeatedly leaves dirty dishes in the sink or the living room a mess. Even if one of your roommates is messier than you are, be the bigger man (or woman) and make sure you are doing your part to make sure your apartment is a pleasant place to live.
4. Follow curfew
Most apartment complexes establish “quiet hours” for their residents, usually after 10 p.m. and before 8 a.m. This doesn’t mean that you have to be in bed during those hours, but just be aware of those around you when you turn on some music or pop in a movie. Late nights and early mornings are probably not the best times to practice dancing, either.
5. Do things together
Remember when you wanted to play with your friends all the time and your parents said no? You will never be so free to spend time with your friends than right now, especially if you are friends with your roommates, so make the most of it while you can. Your roommates are, for all intents and purposes, your family, so make sure you do things together. Go to the dollar movies, play Ultimate Frisbee and eat dinner together.
Even if you try your best, there will be some roommates that you just don’t get along with. However, if you make an effort to be a good roommate, you will establish friendships that can last for many years.