How to Keep the Peace With Your Roommate
Are you considering sharing your space? Get tips for choosing a roommate and making the most of your new living situation.
Living with a roommate can be a lot of fun and less lonely than bunking on your own. However, cohabitation doesn’t come without its challenges, so it is never a good idea to rush into a living situation. Before you agree to share your space with another person, you’ll want to consider a few factors. From choosing a roommate to sharing responsibilities and ensuring a positive relationship, a little preparation will go a long way.
Finding the Right Roommate
Choosing a suitable roommate is essential. Whether you’re hoping for a new friend or simply want someone to share the cost of rent, compatibility is essential. Beyond tuning into your gut, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this individual have a temperament that I like to be around? If a quiet evening at home sounds appealing to you, someone who wants to entertain late into the night might not be a great fit.
- Do our schedules work well together? If you’re hoping to spend time with your roommate, make sure you’ll be home together sometimes. If you want less contact, someone who works opposite hours might be appealing.
- Does this person share the same values about caring for a home? If you shudder at the sight of clutter, ensure you’re both in alignment on apartment upkeep.
- Can they pay the rent reliably? Make sure your new roomie can cover half the expenses each month.
- Can you communicate effectively with this person? Issues inevitably arise while cohabitating, so it’s essential to choose someone to live with who is open to feedback and willing to compromise.
If you’re considering moving back home or moving back in with family members, try a few tips for living in a multigenerational household.
RELATED: How to Make a Rental Feel Like Home
Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
The ideal time to set boundaries in any relationship is at the beginning. Discuss topics such as entertaining guests, sharing communal spaces, cleaning, and sharing groceries and toiletries. Establish ground rules at the outset to save you from awkward conversations later.
To do this:
- Set aside a dedicated time to discuss your hopes for the arrangement.
- Be candid about your expectations and boundaries and listen attentively to theirs.
- Take notes and review them together at the end of the conversation to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
During your meeting, make sure to cover the topic of apartment or house expenses. Beyond rent, there are bills and supplies to consider. Get specific about how it will work each month, and consider your strengths and preferences when deciding how to split tasks.
Choose a system that works for your situation. Maybe you split everything down the middle, or one of you is in charge of the bills while the other is responsible for purchasing items like paper goods and cleaning supplies. Whatever you decide, once you know the costs of each, you can pay one another electronically using a free app like Venmo. Better yet, use an app like Splitwise available on iOS and Android to organize expenses, track bills, and pay one another back. Avoid the need to send reminders (although the app can do that) and instead institute a set pay schedule or day each month.
When it comes to furnishings, instead of chipping in, consider each contributing different items. This way, it’s clear who can take what with them when going your separate ways. This will help to avoid arguments over ownership later or the need to place value on used pieces. Make sure to write down who owns what because it’s easy to lose track, especially if the arrangement goes on for a couple of years or more.
Sharing Household Responsibilities
Since everyone has different standards, cleanliness can be a hot topic when sharing a space. It’s not uncommon for one person to shoulder more of the household duties. Avoid resentment and arguments later by setting up a cleaning schedule from the beginning. Set aside time to talk about preferences and assign tasks. Maybe one of you doesn’t mind vacuuming, and the other loves the achievement of a sparkling bathroom. Make an alternating schedule if you don’t want to be tied to the same jobs each month.
It’s a good idea to keep a visual chart. A chalkboard or whiteboard will offer the perfect spot to record weekly responsibilities. For those who want digital reminders, there are apps to help with chores. Try Tody, an app available on iOS and Android, to help you manage household cleaning routines with checklists and notifications.
Even the best-laid plans will hit some snags. If you live with someone long enough, you’re bound to run into conflict for one reason or another, and the sooner you can resolve it, the better. Letting negative feelings simmer can create an uncomfortable living situation, so instead, be up front about how you are feeling. Here are some tips for tackling that conversation.
- Set aside time to talk.
- Allow each person space to voice their feelings and concerns. Use I-statements and avoid placing blame, which will only put the other person on the defensive.
- Before stating your concerns, rephrase what your roommate is saying to ensure you understand.
- Once you’ve both shared your feelings and made sure you understand where the other is coming from, take turns throwing out solutions for how to move forward. If there’s no obvious resolution, agree to keep the lines of communication open while being mindful of one another’s feelings.
5 Additional Tips to Keep in Mind
- Take ownership when you are the cause of a rift. We’re all allowed bad moods from time to time. Accepting responsibility for your behavior and apologizing will help get your living situation back on track quickly.
- Living with someone is not always a quid pro quo arrangement. That means that sometimes it’s okay to surprise your roommate by doing their half of the chores, especially if they’re having a tough week.
- Practice self-care. The more stressed and tired you are, the more irritable you’ll be at home. Sleep, hydration, movement, and sunshine will go a long way in bettering your relationship.
- Be considerate. A little consideration is integral for a comfortable living situation. That means doing things like asking before inviting others into your space and cleaning up once they leave.
- Have realistic expectations. If you want your home to be spotless, quiet, and clean 100 percent of the time, you might want to opt for a solo studio. Otherwise, keep your expectations reasonable and invest in a good set of noise-canceling headphones.