Getting Along with a Roommate

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Do you have a new roommate?

There are two kinds of roommates: those who you would like to have a drink with and those who you would prefer to pour a drink on.

Finding a roommate is just the start.  The first few weeks of living with your roommate will greatly shape your ultimate experience with him or her.  If things aren’t working well right from the start, there’s a good chance that they will continue to get worse.  If things do go well, then you’ll probably get along.

Here’s what to do during those initial, critical weeks:

Establish a Plan for Household Duties

One of the classic roommate problems is the pile of food-encrusted dishes in the sink. Also making the short list is sweeping, trash and bathroom duties. It’s easy to get peeved at someone when you feel like you are doing all the cleaning.

But what if the other person feels the same way?

The best way to avoid cleaning controversies is to simply come up with a written plan for household duties. In it establish who does what and when. Then, when that something isn’t done, you can pinpoint who was in the wrong.

Here are things to put in the plan:

  • Dishes
  • Sweeping/vacuuming
  • Bathroom cleaning (scrub the tub, toilet, sinks)
  • Trash removal
  • General tidying up

Communicate About Hours, Noise, Food and People

You and your roommate need to establish the rules of the house. If you don’t, one of you will probably end up annoying the other without even knowing it. For example, if you have to wake up extra early on Tuesdays, let your roomy know so they doesn’t bring over a friend for late-night Monopoly on Monday. Other things to think about:

  • When it’s okay to have visitors
  • When it’s okay to have a party
  • Will you share food? If so, what?
  • How loud is too loud?
  • When are your bedtime hours?
  • Are pets okay?
  • Any particular pet peeves you have

Sit Down with Them

They’re your roommate, not some random person on the sidewalk. Every so often, make sure to sit down with them and have a chat. Even if your similarities end at the fact that you share a kitchen counter, just reaching out goes a long way in establishing respect.

In the same vein, communicate with your roommate when something comes up. If you have an issue with them, let them know. If you found their mail on the ground, give them a heads up of a potential problem. If you saw your neighbor do something particularly stupid, let them know that, too.

Apologize for Mess Ups

If you screw something up, let your roommate know and apologize. If you broke something of theirs, offer to pay for it. Live by the adage: do unto your roomy as you would have your roomy do unto you.

Learn how to find a roommate.