Living with Roommates | My Move

Living with Roommates

Author: Dawn Allcot

Many young adults find living with roommates a great way to save money and also ease the transition of "living on their own," often for the first time. Living with roommates may also be one of the more challenging things you will ever have to do in your life. After all, a roommate is, more or less, a random stranger that you've chosen to cohabitate with.

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Why Living with Roommates Is Different

Living with roommates is very different from living with your parents and siblings, close friends, or a spouse. In what ways?

  • Your roommate may have idiosyncrasies that drive you crazy, without the good points of being family or close friends.
  • You probably won't share food or mealtimes the way you would with close friends and family.
  • You may not share similar interests.

Don't Expect to Become Best Friends

Even if you've carefully selected roommates through a pre-screening process, don't expect to become best friends. A roommate is similar to a coworker, in that you want to be friendly, but don't want to cross any lines. In essence, having roommates is a business relationship. Becoming too close could lead to taking advantage of each other.

Becoming close friends, ironically, also increases the likelihood of passionate arguments, which could jeopardize your living arrangements.

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Set Ground Rules

Even before your roommate moves in, set ground rules for behavior as well as finances. We'll get to that in a bit.

Here are some questions to address:

  • Do you stay up late or wake up early? What times would work for both of us as "quiet hours?"
  • How will we divide specific chores in common areas, like dishes, vacuuming and dusting?
  • What's the policy on visitors?

Lay Out the Costs and Responsibilities

Obviously, you'll determine how to split the rent in an equitable way. Determine who will deliver the rent to the landlord, and how soon before that date the other roommate should provide their portion. Do the same with the utilities.

Determine if you'll have a common food budget, or if you'll each buy what you eat, and not touch each other's food. If this is the case, you might each designate separate shelves in the refrigerator.

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Be Considerate and Expect the Same

Living with roommates requires patience and consideration. Following a few rules of general good behavior should help you both get along.

  • Don't borrow, eat, touch or move anything that belongs to your roommate without asking.
  • Be considerate of your roommate's lifestyle and expect the same from her. If she has lights out at 10 PM every night because she has to get up for work at 5 AM, don't have loud friends over on a weeknight.
  • Clean up your own messes.
  • Discuss problems and pet peeves early on in the roommate search, before they grow into insurmountable issues. Your roommate may do things that annoy you and may not even realize it. After a few months of living together, sit down for a "review" where you discuss your feelings and any issues that you see before they become big problems.

Look on the bright side: after living with a roommate, living with a spouse someday will seem like a piece of cake.

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