Alright—you’ve just moved into your brand-new apartment with your roommate. It’s no secret, however, that sharing a space with someone can sometimes be difficult! Whether you’re living with your best friend or a complete stranger, it’s always good to set some boundaries and expectations to avoid unnecessary conflict. Follow these tips below in order to have the best experience possible with your new roommate:
1. Communicate at the very beginning
It is best to put all of your needs and expectations out in the open from the get-go. What level of cleanliness do you both expect? What room temperature do you both like the best? What times during the week are “quiet hours?” Does this change during the weekends? You can’t assume that your roommate will just magically figure all of this out eventually. Tackle these conversations early on to save yourself from conflict down the road.
2. Be willing to compromise
While having the conversations stated above, you might not always see eye to eye on everything. Because of this, you need to be open-minded to each other’s expectations and compromise within reason. Are they a bit cleaner than you naturally? You may just have to do your best to work on being a bit cleaner. Do you go to bed earlier than them? They may have to adjust their quiet hours slightly so you can get better sleep. Do you like the temperature at 74? They might like it at 70—set it at 72! It is easy to just want everything to be the way you want it to be, but that isn’t always how life works, unfortunately. Be willing to adjust a few things for one another, the outcome is worth it!
3. Respect the common areas
If you have your own bedroom or bathroom, awesome! That space is yours and you can do whatever you would like with it. However, when it comes to spaces like the living room or kitchen, you have to remember that you aren’t the only one using them. Be mindful that those spaces are just as much theirs as they are yours. If you’re having friends over, just simply shoot a text to your roommate to make them aware! Sure, let things pile up in your own bedroom! Just don’t use this same mentality when it comes to a space you are sharing.
4. Talk about the things you’re willing to share
Sharing a space means that you will inevitably be sharing a few items. Be sure to discuss with your roommate what you are willing to share with them and what you aren’t. Maybe you’re willing to let them use your spices in the spice cabinet. Maybe you aren’t okay with them using your milk if you need the exact amount that you purchase. It’s best to just not assume these things, and if you aren’t sure...the best policy is always just asking!
5. Don’t be afraid of confrontation—and don’t take it personally!
If you have an issue with your roommate, just bring it up! If you don’t say anything about the issue, letting it continue can just build up the anger inside of you and make things worse (we don’t want that!) And always be sure to remind each other that if you are bringing up an issue, it isn’t personal! It doesn’t mean you think less of them as a person, it’s just an issue that’s important to you and is good to get out in the open.
6. Take a second to reflect on your own weaknesses
Your roommate might not always be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you are either. One of the best ways to be a good roommate is being able to recognize your faults. If you feel as if your roommate may be a little annoyed with you lately, try and take some time to figure out if you need to improve anything on your end. They could be too afraid to confront you about this (yes, not following the previous rule, but you can’t always control that!). There is always room for improvement in everyone!
7. Evaluate your noise levels
One of the biggest problems with roommates outside of cleaning is typically due to noise. Whether that is from talking on the phone or having your volume on high for your favorite Netflix series, there are times when we may not realize we could be disturbing our roommate. It is always good to be aware of your surroundings when it comes to the noise you are making. If you wake up or get home at a time when your roommate is sleeping, be aware of this and try your best to be quiet. If you are blasting your music, make sure they are actually okay with this. (Pro tip: headphones are a great investment when it comes to roommate living!)
8. Do things together...but not...EVERYTHING
Yes, it is absolutely okay to go out with friends or spend the day at the pool together. Being actual friends with your roommate is a great thing! However, at the same time, you need to remember that having your own life is also important. Many friendships thrive by being able to have space apart from each other at the end of the day. This isn’t as easy if your friend also lives with you! Be sure to have your own hobbies and friends to do things with as well, and don’t take it personally if you aren’t always invited to tag along with your roommate! Space is very crucial in any relationship...roommates or not!
9. Give each other alone time
Building off the last tip, everyone needs some alone time once in a while! No matter how well you get along, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to relax with no one else around. Try to get out of the apartment at different times and allow each other to have the space all to yourselves every once in a while. We all need the ability to blast some music and dance around the living room with no judgment at all. And if you’re both in the apartment, learn how to "be alone" together. Don’t be afraid of doing your own activities in silence!
*If you are an OSU student getting ready to go back to school, check out this awesome community located just minutes from campus!