How to Navigate Living with Roommates

Written by a VeryApt Expert
June 30, 2023

Living with roommates is a smart decision financially and socially but sometimes the issues that arise from it are far more of a problem than what it's worth. Before signing a lease with someone, it is important to discuss your boundaries and expectations of one another. Compatibility plays a huge role in living with another person, and while you may enjoy their company, it is important that you feel comfortable in your own space and deal with issues as they come, fairly and equally.

It can be an awkward situation if you run into roommate conflict with a good friend especially when money is involved, but sometimes it is even worse if you choose to live with someone that you do not know as well. Before starting your search, it’s important to spend some time thinking about the qualities you value most in a roommate. 

Finding the right person can be difficult but sometimes finding the right place is even harder. You don’t want resentment to build up because you and your roommate rushed to sign a lease and find down the line that it is not exactly what you were looking for. Living with roommates means adapting to different personalities, lifestyles, and preferences.

Living with a Roommate

Embrace diversity and be willing to compromise to create a harmonious living environment. Continue reading below for some tips and tricks on how to make the most of your living situation and navigate the reality of living with others. 

Cleanliness

Cleanliness is a common topic that can cause disputes in a roommate relationship. If one person is always the one cleaning up after the other it can get old quickly. It is important to let your roommate know ahead of time what you might expect the space to look like. That conversation can help avoid future frustrations and altercations. Take a look at yourself and see if it is you constantly leaving your dish in the sink or not cleaning up after cooking. If you notice a common trend, it is important to take accountability and make an effort to keep the shared living space looking nice if that's what was agreed upon.

Creating a cleaning schedule including who takes out the trash and when, cleans shared counter space, vacuums, etc. can be helpful for keeping things equal. That way, everyone has a responsibility and is doing their part! The longer it takes you to bring the issue up, the harder it is to resolve the conflict so these conversations are key. As always, the biggest tip is recognize and respect each other's personal opinions when it comes to cleaning, and be mindful of shared spaces.

As for your own rooms, it can be up to you how you decide to treat it. Some people are naturally clean and organized while others may not even notice small things a coined “neat freak” might consider dirty.

Schedules

Finding a roommate can be difficult especially if you choose the random roommate route through social media or mutual friends. It is important to be aware of what your roommate's daily schedule might look like. Knowing how often you would like to spend time with them vs having alone time is a big factor in making your decision. For example, if you are someone who works a normal 9-5 job, do you prefer that your roommate is on the same schedule as you? If not, choosing a roommate that works nights (nurse, bartender, etc.) might be a better option for you.

Living in close proximity with others means being mindful of noise levels and sleep schedules. Avoid excessive noise during normal quiet hours, especially if your roommate has a different schedule than you. Use headphones when listening to music or watching TV, and be considerate of others' need for peace and quiet. This also applies for my next topic!

Social Life

Another topic to discuss with your potential roommate is their social life and having people over. Social schedules and interests are usually a key factor in deciding who you want to live with as they can be a huge point of conflict for roommates. Does your potential roommate expect to have friends over often? Do you share friends? What do they like to do in their free time? Will friends coming back to your apartment be bothersome? No matter your preference, make sure to set boundaries and expectations for this before getting wrapped up in a lease with someone.

If you live with someone who has a significant other and you find them always sleeping over at your apartment, try asking them to spread it out or maybe switch off staying at each other’s places every so often so that the roommate(s) do not feel uncomfortable in their own space. Again, it is always best to be upfront about this before moving in together!

Although you may find that you and your roommate have similar interests and living habits, chances are you won’t prefer exactly the same things. Try planning occasional group activities or meals together to strengthen your bond and maintain a positive atmosphere in the living space.

Money

And of course the most important topic to discuss, money. Money makes the world go round and while it is not everything, it plays a huge role in deciding where to live and who to live with. It is crucial to have the conversation with your potential roommate(s) ahead of time so that you do not find yourself in a sticky financial situation. Although this is the hardest conversation to have, it is the most necessary. Make sure that the person you might be living with is credible and reliable so that you do not have to worry about how they will be holding up their end of the bargain.

Supplying things for the house is an added expense. To avoid conflict down the line, discuss who is bringing what and how much each counterpart owes for each item. Side note: it is key to know who is accountable for each shared item so it is easy when moving out. Also consider establishing a system for handling shared expenses, such as rent, utilities, and groceries. Make sure everyone understands their financial obligations and pays their share promptly.

Final Advice

Remember, living with roommates can be a learning experience that teaches you valuable life skills such as compromise, communication, and conflict resolution. By following these tips and maintaining a respectful attitude, you can navigate living with roommates successfully.

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