Tips for Making Life with a Roommate More Livable

on December 12, 2013

Living with your new college roommate will be the first big test of your ability to adapt to challenges and exist in the adult world. You and your roommate are, after all, different individuals with separate histories, different likes and dislikes, and sometimes distinctly different ways of doing things.

Whether you choose to live with an existing friend or to take your chances with a new face, sharing space with another who is your equal, not just a little brother or sister, will be a whole new world. As a result, living in peace is a goal that can sometimes seem out of reach. Short of giving up and finding another roommate, and possibly going through the same ordeal all over again, there are ways to work together and make the situation livable.

For example, if your roommate will be someone you’ve never met before, it would be to your advantage to communicate with them prior to arriving at the dorm or apartment. See what details of life you can share with each other. Get to know their major likes and dislikes and something of their life experiences so there will be fewer surprises.

In addition, consider these helpful hints for making the most of the roommate situation:

• Set rules – There needn’t be a written contract, but you should make it a point to settle some ground rules before the sun sets on your first day together. Some of these may entail study time, lights–out time, when guests are permitted to come over, bathroom schedules, and so forth. Set out where you will each keep your belongings and do your best to stick to the agreement.

• Show respect – This means more than respecting someone else’s belongings and space. Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is particularly important in a roommate situation. You may not always, or even often, agree. But you will go a long way to maintaining peace if you respect your roommate’s opinions and decisions as you would want yours to be respected.

• Be helpful – As part of your ground rules, you will have probably divided up chores. But be open to helping out when needed. If your roommate is overloaded with school work, for example, offer to take on some extra duties. Or quietly take your leave so they can study without interruptions. You can then expect the same consideration in return.

• Communicate – Above all, don’t let problems fester by trying to ignore them to avoid confrontation. The two of you should be able to nip problems in the bud if you discuss them calmly instead of letting them build until they become poisonous to your arrangement. If one of you is slacking off on cleaning or sharing living costs, for example, it’s better to shed light on the subject and reinforce your cohabitation agreement.

Taking on life with a college roommate can be a test of your patience and understanding. But using some insights you’ve probably learned from your parents can go a long way to making that life easier.


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