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Living with someone other than your parents takes some adjustment. Whether you know your roommate or not, you will likely get on each other’s nerves at some point. So, it’s important you create a space of mutual respect. They could end up being your best friend, but if not you still want to be cordial with each other. Here are ten tips for living with a roommate in college.
1. Learn More About Them
Even if you guys aren’t that close, still get to know your roommate. Learn about their hobbies and family. You may even discover you have similar interests you can bond over.
The best way to learn about your roommate is by asking genuine, open-ended questions. If you like watching movies, ask them if they have seen any good films recently. Also, actively listen to their answers. You can show you’re engaged by making eye contact and facing them.
2. Communicate Effectively
Communication is important when living with a roommate. It builds trust and prevents misunderstandings. When you first meet your roommate, tell them things they should know about you. For example, do you have any food allergies?
Make sure you communicate your needs as well. Do you like to sleep in on weekends? In that case, politely ask them to keep the volume down in the morning. In addition, if something is bothering you let them know right away.
When communicating with your roommate, you want to express yourself clearly. Here are some tips to follow:
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and tone of voice
- Keep your emotions under control
- Actively Listen
- Be assertive
3. Establish Clear Boundaries
Everyone is comfortable sharing different things. For example, some people don’t mind sharing food or clothing, and others do. When sharing utensils, wash them properly to avoid common illnesses like the cold.
Keep your belongings on your side and ask permission before borrowing anything. Also, discuss mental boundaries. For example, are there topics you don’t want to talk about, such as dating? Discuss these boundaries early on to help avoid conflict.
4. Divide up Chores
Make sure you divide up tasks equally. One way to do this is to create a chore chart. You can include things like emptying the garbage, disinfecting surfaces, and vacuuming. First, ask your roommate about the activities they don’t mind doing. If your roommate doesn’t want to do a chart, create a list of responsibilities.
Once you have decided on the tasks, create a schedule. Then place the list or chart somewhere you’ll both see it, such as a bulletin board. Also, make sure you keep up with your responsibilities.
5. Learn Your Roommates Schedule
One of the first questions to ask your roommate is what their schedule is like. This is important when it comes to sleep habits. Suppose if your roommate has an early morning class. Then at night and turn off lights and lower your music. Also, knowing your roommate’s schedule can impact when you have guests. For example, you can invite your significant other over while your roommate is in class.
6. Be Open-Minded
Keep in mind people come from different backgrounds than you. Your roommate may come from a different culture or was raised differently. Accepting these contrasts reduces conflict. Try to learn about their background and see where you can meet in the middle. To be more open-minded, ask questions and take time to consider their point of view.
7. Use Headphones
Investing in headphones is a smart move when living with a roommate. They won’t want to constantly hear your phone or laptop. Also, the noise can be distracting if they are trying to study, have a zoom class, or are taking a nap. Plus, wearing headphones allows you to block out any annoying sounds.
8. Give Them Personal Space
Even if you guys are best friends. Everyone needs some alone time when living with a roommate. Transiting to a smaller space can be tough for many students. Therefore, give your roomie a few hours each week to themselves. You may enjoy a break every once in a while too.
9. Set Up a Roommate Agreement
Establish clear rules from the beginning, which can prevent long-term issues. You want to discuss topics, such as cleaning expectations. How will you divide up the chores? Another thing to determine is what the bedtime routine will look like. How long will you keep the lights on and what volume should music be at?
Here are some more topics of discussion:
- Overnight guests expectations
- When is a good time for friends to come over
- The appropriate volume for music
- Which food is shared
10. Discuss How to Handle Conflict
Having a plan to deal with conflict is essential. Being prepared can help solve arguments quicker. Talk about your style of communication. Do you prefer talking face to face or over the phone? Also, determine what topics are non-negotiable, such as having overnight guests. In addition, figure out the best time to discuss your issues. Suppose your roomie isn’t a morning person. Then it’s best to wait until the afternoon.
If you’re having trouble resolving the problem on your own, talk to your resident advisor. They may step in and act as a mediator.
Things to Keep in Mind When Living With a Roommate
College comes with many transitions, like being away from home. Living with a roommate is another one you’ll face freshman year. So, follow these tips to create a stress-free environment.