Having a roommate can be a challenge, especially if you do not get off on the right foot in the beginning. Whether you are rooming with someone for the first time or you have shared apartments before, each roommate experience is going to be unique and have its own challenges. This is true whether you are rooming with your best friend or you are sharing an apartment with a complete stranger. At Wood Partners, we want your apartment living experience to be enjoyable, so here’s five tips to improve your chances of having a good roommate experience.
Respect Each Other’s Space and Boundaries
Whether you have to share a room with your new roommate or you are simply sharing an apartment, most people want some privacy. Even if you have previously had roommates, it is a good idea to quickly establish boundaries. If a door is open, is that automatically an invitation to come in, or does it still require knocking? Can you borrow each other’s clothing without asking? If your roommate leaves books, papers, or clothing in the living room, can the items be moved?
It may also be important to establish quiet times in your apartment, particularly if one or both of you works odd hours. Maybe visitors need to leave by midnight or you agree to use headphones when listening to music between ten at night and eight in the morning. Realize that just because something does not bother you, does not mean it will not bother your roommate.
Split the Workload
It is also important that everyone contributes to the running of the household. If you decide to purchase food together, you will need to decide if you are going to go shopping together, if just one of you is going to do the shopping, or if you will trade off the responsibility.
Splitting the chores around the apartment is another important task. For some people, this might simply be a matter of everyone in the apartment agreeing to clean-up after themselves. Others may need to establish a schedule of who cleans what room, and when.
Be respectful of your roommates. If you are the messier one, work a little harder to make sure you are cleaner. If you are the cleaner roommate, try to let things go a little, or at least do not complain if things are not perfectly clean. Dirty dishes left in the sink overnight or shoes left in the middle of the living room are not the end of the world.
Show Appreciation for Your Roommate
Chances are, even if you and your roommate are not a perfect fit, things could be worse. Compliment your roommate. Even if it is something as simple as thanking her for changing the light bulb in the bathroom or telling him you like his new shoes, positive interactions can go a long way.
Fix dinner for both of you one night. Wash all the dishes without complaining. Clean the whole living room on your own. If your roommate is the sort who likes quiet time, go away for a few hours or even for the weekend every once in a while. If your roommate is the sort who likes to talk, be willing to be a listening ear, even when it is not convenient for you.
Your roommate cannot read your mind. If his loud music at three in the morning keeps you up, mention it. If it bothers you when she borrows your movies without asking, let her know. The longer you let the problem fester, the angrier it is going to make you. In the same sense, do not let the small things bother you.
Another part of communication is deciding how you will split the bills. Many apartments, including most of those developed by Wood Partners, have a master bedroom and then smaller bedrooms. Will the person getting the master bedroom pay more? Will one person be responsible for collecting money from the other roommate or roommates and then paying the bills, or will the responsibility for paying the bills be split between two or more people? If assumptions are made about rent and other bills, they may go unpaid, resulting in big problems for everyone.
Understand the Apartment Rental Agreement
Sometimes no matter what you do, things just do not work out with your roommate. Sometimes moving out is the only logical action. Before you do this, understand the apartment rental agreement. Will you still be responsible for rent and other bills if you just move out? Do you have a month-by-month contract, or do you have to stay for a full year before you can move out?