To end up in a living situation you're happy with, you not only need to on find an apartment you like, but you also need to find a good roommate. While you don't have to become bffs with your future roomie, you should try to develop a good roommate relationship with them.
When you're searching for a new roommate, think about the following seven tips on how to be a good roommate.
1. Ask questions to determine your compatibility.
If you're looking for someone to live with, make sure to ask your potential roommate some questions. These will help determine if you're capable of becoming good roommates.
Some important questions include:
- Where do you want to live?
- What is your definition of clean?
- What is your typical schedule?
- How do you feel about visitors?
- How often do you drink/smoke?
By knowing the answers to these questions, you've taken the first step in setting yourself up to live with the best roommate you've ever had.
It's also worth getting to know them as a person before you move in together. What are their hobbies? Do they have any pet peeves?
2. Establish ground rules with a roommate agreement.
Before you start living together, or within a week of moving in, form a roommate agreement. To develop an agreement, sit down with your roommate(s) and talk about what's important to each of you. Some items you should address in your agreement include:
- Quiet times
- Guest policies
- Each roommate's rent and security deposit responsibilities
- How you will divide and pay bills such as utilities
- Cleaning standards/schedule
- What (if anything) in the house is communal
- How to handle payment for communal items
- Apartment temperature
- What happens if someone moves out early
When discussing these topics, be upfront about what you want. Even if you wish you were a heavy sleeper, be honest if you need a quiet house after 10 PM. Also, encourage your roommate to be honest and don't shame their requests.
You and your roommate may not agree on the rules. If this is the case, try to compromise. If your roommate wants to have their good friends over every night and you never wants guests, consider allowing people over two or three nights per week.
If a problem arises, refer to the agreement. For example, if your roommate's significant other has slept over the past four nights, you can say "our agreement states significant others can only sleep here one night per week."
I shouldn't have to say this, but make sure you follow the set rules. If you break part of the agreement, admit to it and apologize. And continue to communicate to see if you and your roommate are happy with the rules.
3. Respect personal space.
Whether you and your roommate are besties or strangers, it's important to respect their personal space. Some of this is obvious; don't rummage through your roommate's stuff, don't eat their food, and don't sleep in their bed. In short, their stuff is off limits.
Other parts of personal space are more vague. For example, how much alone time does your roommate want? If they're hanging out in their room, is it okay for you to knock and say hi? Or do they prefer to be left alone? If you're unsure of boundaries, just ask. Your roommate will appreciate it.
In small spaces such as dorm rooms (sorry college students) or efficiency or studio apartments, respecting personal space is extra important. Don't leave your belongings spread throughout your place. And don't take the whole place over when your roommate is gone.
4. Clean up after yourself, at least in common areas.
One of the biggest battles between roommates is keeping a space clean. Luckily, this conflict is easy to avoid. Just think back to kindergarten and clean up after yourself!
Wash your dirty dishes, sweep up any messes, and keep your items out of common areas. While you and your roommate should be responsible for your own messes, it doesn't hurt to help them out sometimes. If they knock a jar out of the refrigerator while rushing to grab their lunch, offer to clean it up so they're not late for work.
Apartments often involve shared cleaning duties. To tackle these tasks, consider creating a cleaning schedule to divide daily, weekly, and monthly chores. Some items to list on the schedule include:
- Taking out trash and recycling
- Sweeping/vacuuming common areas
- Cleaning the refrigerator
- Cleaning shared bathrooms (cleaning the toilet, wiping down the sinks, mopping the floors, etc.)
- Washing dishes
By writing out who is responsible for what tasks, your space is more likely to remain clean, and you'll also avoid potential conflicts.
5. Take an interest in how your roommate is doing.
You don't have to be best friends with your roommate. Even if you wish to become bffs, repeated attempts to force friendship can actually repel your roommate. With this said, you should show you care about them as a person.
Moving to a new place, starting a new internship, and living with a new person can all be stressful. Take a minute to check in with your roommate and ask how they're doing, especially if they seem grouchy or rude.
Maybe you'll learn they have a big presentation coming up and are stressed about it. Not only will you show your roommate you care, but you'll also better understand why they've seemed on edge. Little conversations like these will help create a good relationship.
6. Remember you're sharing the space.
This may seem obvious, but if you live with a roommate you must share your living space. So, think about your roommate's needs along with your own.
Don't hog common areas
Chances are, you have some common areas in your apartment such as a kitchen and living room. Don't pretend you're the only person who wants to use them. We all want to watch our favorite shows, and we all need to eat dinner. If you're planning to spend three hours cooking an elaborate meal, let your roommate know ahead of time.
Keep the volume down
If you've established rules (which you should have), your house has designated quiet times. Be respectful of these. If you need to listen to your pump-up song at 6 AM or watch Netflix at 1 AM, use headphones. Even if you listen to music or watch videos during the day, it doesn't hurt to put in some earbuds.
Be considerate about guests
You'll probably want to invite guests over at some point, and this is fine. However, let your roommate know you'll be having people over ahead of time. And before having more than a few people over, always ask for permission. Your roommate might not be thrilled if they come home to a slumber party reminiscent of high school.
Make sure you don't have guests over too often. Nobody likes when a close friend or significant other becomes a freeloader.
Since you are sharing the space, this means you're sharing communal tasks. As mentioned above, it's a good idea to talk about how you will handle the upkeep of common areas. With that said, you're an adult. If you fill the trash can, take it out. If you use the last of the toilet paper, buy more.
Keep things secure
One more important point is to lock up when you leave. Maybe you're fine with leaving a door unlocked, but your roommate might not be.
7. Keep an Open Line of Communication.
Even when you follow the tips listed above, conflict is bound to arise. So, make sure you establish a line of open communication with your roommate.
If something bothers you, bring it up. When you address problems in the beginning stages, you prevent them from becoming a big deal. Along the same line, listen to your roommate if they have a concern about their living situation. While you might think it's ridiculous they want you to always wear socks in the house, hear them out. Maybe their college roommate gave them a scary foot fungus, and they're just trying to avoid repeating past problems.
If you upset your roommate, say you're sorry. This little gesture can go a long way.
If you haven't seen your roommate in a while, make it a point to check in on them. Even if it's not in person, a "hey, everything okay?" text or a GIF of their favorite animal can go a long way. At the end of the day, the goal is to make sure both you and your roommate feel welcome in your living space.