How to Tell Your Roommate You're Moving Out | My Move

How to Tell Your Roommate You're Moving Out

Author: Dawn Allcot

Telling a roommate you're moving out is similar to breaking up a romantic relationship or quitting a job. And, believe it or not, some of the same lines may work. No matter how carefully scripted and rehearsed your conversation, it probably won't be easy (if you and your roommate get along, that is). But hopefully you can preserve the friendship or at least leave both parties feeling good about the situation.

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Follow these tips to soften the sting when you tell a roommate you're moving out.

Before the "Break-up"

In preparation for your "moving out speech," make a list of the reasons you're leaving. If you're moving in with a significant other, getting married, moving because of a job change or if you simply can't afford your current living arrangements anymore, this is easy. Your roommate should understand.

However, if it's actually the fault of your roommate (he doesn't pay the rent; she's a slob; you don't like her significant other) it can be a touchy situation. Can you make up a little white lie that's credible to spare her feelings? Sure.

If you can't come up with a credible reason, and assuming you've already addressed the issues (including rent payments or cleanliness standards) and find they can't be fixed, it's time to finesse an exit speech.

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The Roommate Exit Speech

Place the emphasis on your feelings and perceptions, so the roommate doesn't feel under attack.

For instance:

  • "I can't afford this place anymore," rather than: "You never give me the rent money on time."
  • "I'm finding it really hard to keep up with the housework and I feel I'd do better in my own space," instead of, "You leave your junk lying everywhere and seem to think I'm the maid."
  • "I just feel ready to live on my own," instead of: "You don't respect my privacy and it's driving me crazy."

Adding a sprinkling of "It's not you, it's me" reassurance helps you both make a graceful exit with pride intact.

Practice Your Speech

When you've decided what to tell your roommate, practice the speech in front of a mirror so you can remain calm and collected. You may want to run it by your parents or a close friend and get their feedback, too.

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The Day of the Roommate "Break-up"

  • Give plenty of notice. Provide at least one month's notice or more, depending on the terms of your lease. Be fair and give your roommate time to find another place of their own or to find another roommate.
  • Put your roommate in a good frame of mind. Clean up the apartment, or cook their favorite meal (if you often share the cooking or eat meals together). Wait until after dinner to break the news to your roommate.
  • Don't do it in a public place. You're never sure how someone will react, emotionally, to news. As with a relationship break-up, do it in the privacy of your home. The exception: If you have reason to believe your roommate will become violent (maybe mental instability is the reason you're moving out!) do it in a public place to protect yourself.
  • Whatever happens, stick to your guns. However your roommate reacts, don't let it deter your decision. You've thought this over carefully, weighed the pros and cons, and you know it's time for moving out.
  • Remain calm. If you go on the defensive, it could add fuel to their fire and result in an ugly situation. If you remain the adult in the conversation, your roommate should eventually come around ... or not. If they don't, that's just more proof you've made the right choice. Wish them the best, and move on to a new, better life.