How to Be a Considerate Roommate
Tips on how you can be a considerate roommate that's easy to live with.
November 21, 2012
Sharing a home with friends or with a total stranger can either be an enlightening experience or a nightmare. People who have gone though these situations have given such varying accounts of the experience. Some have been able to forge solid friendships while others felt like they were in the movie Single White Female. Regardless of what the experience was for you, sharing a living space with other people can be challenging and extremely trying, especially since everyone has their own quirks and lifestyle. The only solution is to adjust and learn how to compromise. Here are some suggestions on how to be a good roommate and live harmoniously with others.
- Look for a considerate and good roommate. Most would choose a roommate based on how friendly he or she appears to be, but it would be better if you make your decision based on their habits and how compatible they are to yours. Some of these questions are worth thinking about:
- Does this person have a good rental history? Can they pay their share of the bills on time?
- Is he or she financially stable? Does the person have enough to cover his share?
- Do you have the same waking and sleeping schedule?
- Are you relatively in sync when it comes to how hot or cold you want the room to be?
- How many hours do they watch TV?
- What’s this person’s noise level? Do they listen to music or watch TV with a high volume or do they prefer to read quietly?
- What’s your prospective roommate’s political view or religious beliefs? Is he a Democrat or a Republican?
- Do they have a fixed schedule? Will they come home every night or do they stay out the whole night?
- Does he or she do chores? What chores can or can’t they do? (This can be really helpful in the division of labor around the house.)
- Are they emotionally available or closed off?
- Are they suffering from OCD (whether it’s mild or serious)?
- Does your prospective roommate suffer from allergies? Is he or she sensitive to certain fragrances or smells?
- Is she a neat freak or a total slob? Is she capable of keeping a shared living space clean?
- Does he or she smoke or do recreational drugs?
- What kind of personality does he or she have?
- Does your new roommate have any decorating style or they don’t care what the house looks like?
- What music do they listen to or what kind of TV shows do they watch? This is crucial especially if you’re sensitive about noise.
- Be direct and honest about what you expect from your roommate. Set clear boundaries and make sure you both stick to them. This pertains to cooking, food, clothes, laundry, personal possessions, use of shared living areas, parties and how loud they are, quiet hours each one of you needs, house chores etc.
- Make sure you both respect each other’s personal space and privacy. This is crucial especially when you’re sharing a very limited living space. There should be a clear separation between both your stuff. This also means that you’re only responsible for your possessions. If you do want to use something of your housemate’s, then make sure you borrow it properly and treat it carefully.
- Fulfill your responsibilities and promises. If it’s your turn to clean the kitchen or take out the trash, then make sure you do it. If you have promised to give your share of the rent or utilities payment, then fulfill it.
- Learn how to compromise as each one of us were raised differently. We have different ideas, lifestyle and habits. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to change fundamental beliefs or habits you have so don’t expect your roommate to change.
- Clean as you go. I’m not saying you have to be a compulsive cleaner, but it would be in everyone’s best interest if you don’t leave your dishes in the sink for weeks, leave a trail of dirty clothes all over the house or cover the coffee table with your stuff. You don’t want to live in a pig sty and your roommate will surely appreciate it if you both keep your living area livable. Share the cleaning chores and agree on keeping your living area clean.
- Respect your roommate’s lifestyle. This is a potential landmine if you have different waking and sleeping habits. If you sleep or go home late, try to keep as quiet as possible and turn down the lights when you’re roommate goes to sleep. If you’re the type who has trouble being awake past 9pm, don’t get irritated if your roommate keeps late hours. Both you and your housemate should try hard not to disturb the other person while also finding ways to get some sleep.
- Get to know your roommate. Since you’re living together, you should get to know each other. Say hi, ask them about their day and get to know their interests. Getting to know each other will help you understand each other and will also make living together easier. Having a rapport or a friendship with your roommate will also make dealing with problems that will inevitably crop up go smoothly. Try to schedule some bonding time with your housemate, have lunch or dinner on the weekend, see a movie or do something nice for him or her.
- Learn how to adjust. Try to empathize with what your roommate is feeling or going through and try to adjust and support him or her. You don’t need to make any grand gesture or big sacrifice either. Simple things like being quiet when your roommate is studying for a big test or giving him or her space when they’re stressed from school or their job will surely be appreciated. Plus, your roommate will also accord you with the same courtesy when you need it.
- Talk with your roommate. Like any normal relationship, sharing a living space with someone entails hard work, lots of communication and effort. As we all know, communication is crucial in making any type of relationship, whether it’s short or long term, work. If a disagreement comes up, talk it over with your roommate as soon as possible before it worsens. If you can’t talk to each other then tensions might increase. There have been instances when lack of communication has caused stress among roommates and even ruined friendships.
- Have a clear understanding on what things can be shared and what are off limits. For instance, agree in advance what food you’re OK with sharing or whether you’ll have a common telephone line. If you’re not comfortable with sharing then designate a specific cupboard for each of you and understand that whatever’s in it isn’t to be shared. Make it a rule that anything borrowed should be asked for properly and replaced.
- Divide chores equally. It will really make living with someone more harmonious if there’s an equal division of labor. Let’s say you’re a decent cook while your roommate can burn water, then you can be the designated cook while he or she will do the dishes. It’s also a great idea to create a set schedule for chores so everyone knows whose turn it is to take out the trash or clean the bathroom