By Mariah Wilson, November 26 2019 —
Whether you’re living with friends or complete strangers, it’s important to set some ground rules since you’ll be living together for the foreseeable future. If there’s a lack of communication, it can lead to hard feelings and unnecessary stress and frustration on top of your schoolwork. You want to be able to come home to a safe space where your worries from the day can melt away — believe me, it’s important to have an area where you can unwind and be yourself.
To save you having to go through the awkwardness of having the “talk” with your roommate, here are some tips to set a solid foundation from the get-go:
Lay down some ground rules ASAP:
When you choose to live with someone, whether it’s your best friend from high school or someone you met at orientation earlier this year, you need to realize that they have different values and tolerances than you do. It’s important to be open and accepting of these values to build a solid relationship, but you need to be honest with your roommate about what your needs are. If these aren’t communicated from the get-go, your cozy little abode can soon turn into a hostile environment.
Budgeting and finances:
Making a budget of your monthly expenses is a good habit to develop, and it will ensure that your student loans and savings will last throughout your time at university. Therefore, it’s vital that you and your roommate have an open and honest conversation about monthly house expenses. How will living costs be split between the two of you? What brands can you both afford?
During these conversations, make sure to be respectful of your roommates comfort zone and their privacy. They don’t have to disclose their entire financial situation to you if they don’t want to. Also: Don’t lend out money.
Communication is key here, people. If there’s a problem, openly discuss it right away. Don’t let your passive aggressiveness over one dirty dish escalate into a catastrophic disagreement. Nobody is perfect and nobody is going to know how you’re feeling unless you express it. If you know that seeing dirty dishes left in the sink for more than a day is one of your pet peeves, make sure to let your roommate know this. But, always try to be gentle and kind with them as they adjust to your needs and vice versa.
Pro tip: Schedule a time once a week to meet up and go over any house-related topics. Whether it’s that you need to buy more toilet paper or need to crack down on playing loud music at night, it’s important to check in with one another.
Remember to hang out:
As your school, extra-curricular and social schedules pick up, it’s easy to put some of your relationships on the back burner. But, it’s important to retain the friendship within your “room-ationship.” While I’m not advocating for y’all to hangout 24/7, you should try to set aside some time for just the two of you. If you were friends first, then this becomes even more important. Without the fun part in your relationship with one another, it’s easier to get bogged down by the mundane tasks and trivial disagreements over running a home. You don’t want to develop negative — or indifferent — feelings towards one another.
This originally appeared in print in Frosh 2019.