Living With a Roomate? Some Advice

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Living With a Roomate? Some Advice

Alexandrea Denny · Oct 17, 2014

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Finding the perfect apartment is no easy task. Securing the perfect roommate is near impossible. When moving in with someone, two people will understandably have conflicting ideas when it comes to decorating, cleanliness, bills, groceries, and more. However, if talked about beforehand, most potential issues can be curtailed from the very beginning. I have lived with both people I knew and people I did not, and the structure is relatively the same. Here are some things you must establish beforehand to make the cohabitation as smooth as possible.

1. Merging two design aesthetics can reasonably cause some conflict. There is no easy answer here, but the best way to make it work is to be willing to compromise. This isn’t easy, but you want both parties to feel equally at home. If one person’s decorative style has taken over, the other is always going to feel a sense of unease. A good way to remedy this is to go shopping together! Find pieces of furniture you both like or can at least tolerate. Make it fun! My old roommate and I used to go to second-hand shops and scour the shelves for unique pieces. This made the process of decorating much less stressful and served as quality bonding time for the both of us. If you are into DIY, renovating a piece of furniture or painting something simple like a shelf can also be a way to compromise design aesthetics and have fun merging your styles.

2. Now for the big one… Cleanliness. It’s important to know now that almost everybody either underestimates or overestimates how clean they are. The most tension I have ever had with a roommate was due to cleanliness. So talk about it. Set a chore list. Make guidelines. Make every possible aspect of cleanliness as clear as possible. Should the dishes be done right away or can they sit for a day? Should the bathroom be cleaned once a week or every other week? Who takes the trash out? While every situation is different, I will say that containing your mess to your room will make everything easier. I won’t lie, I’m a little bit messy. I have learned, however, that as long as I keep my mess to myself, it causes no issues. So, pick up your shoes, your bags, and your half-filled glasses of water and keep the common areas as tidy as possible.

3. Bills, bills, bills; the source of frustration for many a roommate. Make the decisions before the first bill is due as to how you and your roommate will handle it. The best way, I have found, is to divide up the responsibility of each bill so that one person’s name is not on every bill. Because of possible credit issues, you don’t want to be held accountable for every bill if your roommate is having money issues one month. So, split it up. For example, my name is on the electricity bill and my roommate’s name is on the cable and internet bill. This keeps us both accountable. Clearly write the due date of each bill on somewhere accessible, such as a whiteboard or on the fridge, as well as the date in which the money needs to be collected. This keeps everything clear and out in the open.

4. Lastly, let’s talk about groceries. Or, even better: talk to your roommate about groceries! The first thing to figure out is if you and your roommate are going to share food or not. This is tricky. If you decide to keep things separate, label your shelves and don’t give into temptation when the nighttime munchies occur and you haven’t made it to the store in a while. If you decide to keep things separate, stay strong. It’s tough. Most of the time, you will eventually merge to some degree. If you and your roommate decide to do some meals together, be sure that you are each contributing equally. Decide what food is for sharing and what food is for you and make that distinction clear.

There are many other minor concerns that are apt to arise when living with a roommate and you will have to figure out the best way to address it for your particular situation. The best advice I can give you is to be clear and direct as much as possible. Don’t let things stew. If you feel the need, pull a Sheldon and write up a loose roommate agreement that outlines what you and your roommate have settled on. As long as you keep your channels of communication open and a willingness to compromise in your back pocket, you will have nothing to worry about.

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