Moving away from home and into your own place is thrilling. It is. You finally get to live with your besties (or soon-to-be-besties) and do whatever you want, whenever you want. But don’t fall into any of these common traps or you risk becoming that awful roommate everyone hates.
Learning to live with someone that isn’t your parents is a huge learning curve for just about everyone. I’ve lived with six different roommates over the years. You’d think by now I’d ace the whole roomie thing, but although it has gotten easier, each new roomie brings its own set of joys and challenges.
If any of the following rings true, you might be a terrible roomie…or maybe it sounds familiar because you’re living with one.
1. DO: Clean up after yourself—your parents won’t anymore
Finally, you’re free. You don’t have to listen to your Mom telling you to clean the dishes or put away your junk. But just because you don’t have your parents nagging you anymore, doesn’t mean your roommate wants to live in your filth either. (There’s a good chance anyway.) Your parents probably eventually picked up after your mess when you didn’t—that is not the case anymore. Respect your roomie and clean up after yourself, or at least contain your mess to your bedroom so your roommates don’t have to suffer.
2. DON’T: Throw a massive party (without telling anyone)
You now have the ability to throw parties and have people over whenever your heart desires. House party on a Wednesday night? Woohoo! But the reality is, your roomie has a schedule, too. Would you want someone throwing a massive kegger the night before your final exam? To be on your roommate’s good side, anytime you want to have a party, run the date by them, and hey, don’t forget to invite them too (I mean they do live under the same roof). Nothing is worse than coming home tired or stressed out and wanting to chill—and there’s a massive party at your house.
3. DO: Pull your weight (like getting TP when it’s your turn)
Did you set rules or expectations with your roomies when you all moved in? Do you have a calendar for when people clean, or who’s in charge of picking up shared products like toilet paper? Make sure to follow these expectations! If it’s your turn to get the toilet paper, remember that the rest of the house is counting on you. Don’t make them feel obligated to pick up your slack. After all, how annoying is it when you go to refill the toilet paper and there’s none left? Or worse when you realize there isn’t any left when it’s too late. People don’t forget that kind of thing. Don’t be that roomie. No one likes that roomie.
4. DON’T: Have your boyfriend or girlfriend “visit” 7 days a week
This was probably the biggest challenge I had with roommates throughout the years. I didn’t agree to live with you AND your significant other; I agreed to live with you only! Be respectful of the fact that your roomie may not be super cool with your boyfriend or girlfriend living at your place 7 days a week. Yes, obviously, they’ll come over to visit and spend the night here and there, but unless they’re paying rent, are on the lease, or helping clean up, they have their own place.
5. DON’T: Take over the bathroom like it’s your second bedroom
More than likely you are living in a house or apartment with at least a couple roomies—and only one washroom. Keep in mind that other people need to use the washroom too (I know, shocking right?), and often they don’t want to have to schedule timeslots to go pee, or use the shower.
6. DON’T: Borrow without asking (also known as stealing)
Unless you have some unspoken agreement with your roomie, borrowing without asking is a nicer way of saying you’re stealing. It is to be assumed that there are things you share that may only belong to one of you (like a couch or a shower curtain), but if you’re borrowing personal belongings that you don’t usually share (like clothes or makeup), make sure to ask. Asking permission goes a long way; this isn’t a free-for-all on everything (boyfriends and girlfriends included)!
7. DO: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Aretha Franklin said it best, respect is key to any roomie relationship. At the end of the day, if you respect one another, the space you live in, and each other’s belongings, you’ll find yourself a lot happier. Plus you’ll find that you’re not living under a roof of tension when you come home. Communicate with your roommate, be respectful of their time and shared space, and honestly, pick your battles. Respect to get respect.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.