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How to avoid common roommate issues

two hands holding coffee cups on a white table

Teaming up with a roommate makes an independent life more affordable

For many NYC dwellers sharing a living space with a roommate is a common phenomenon. Starting an independent life and moving out of the parents’ home is a liberating experience all millennials are longing for.

But, due to the high real estate costs, buying or renting a decent apartment only for yourself seems to be beyond the realm of possibility for many people. As a result, in order to live in a more spacious and conveniently located place, they choose to share it with one or more roommates. While it can be one of the most amazing experiences for young people, there are some potential downsides everyone should be aware of. Sharing a living space with someone else is not all roses, so you’d better be prepared for possible roommate issues you can encounter down the road.

A good roommate relationship is the key to a peaceful renter’s life. Not only will you be able to afford a prettier, larger apartment, but also you will split utility, rent and maintenance costs. What’s more, there are situations where roommates become at some point life-long friends. Sure, it’s also convenient to have some help with the chores and bills. But, here’s one of the most common concerns new college students face: what if we don’t get along? What if my roommate and I are not a good match?

For starters make sure you are on the same page in terms of moving requirements. You should agree on the moving quote, moving date, choice of movers, apartment arrangements and other important tasks.

Here we have outlined some of the most common issues that may arise when sharing living space with other person.

Roommate problems in a nutshell

For many young people a freshmen year is the first time sharing an apartment or a room with someone else. While it can be an amazing adventure, it’s no secret that roommate troubles and dramatic situations are not uncommon. Ideally, the two of you will bond and even become best friends, but for some people it just doesn’t work out.

But, what’s keeping them from having a harmonious relationship?  Here are some tips on how to handle some of the most common stumbling blocks that may appear. Some differences are just too much to endure under the same roof, but hopefully the following suggestions will make it a bit easier.

Roommate’s cleaning habits

an animated roommate's messy bedroom with lots of toys on the floor and under the table

Have an honest conversation with your roommate about cleaning standards

Let’s face it, people’s cleaning habits and standards may slightly or significantly differ. Keeping an apartment clean and tidy can be difficult for some people, which is why roommates often end up fighting. Even if you are moving in with a friend, you are likely to disagree when it comes to the condition of your place.

But, regardless of your previous routines and habits, both of you should work a little harder to keep your apartment in good shape. But, first and foremost, maintain a good communication and create an easy-to-follow cleaning checklist and schedule. Dividing cleaning chores goes a long way towards creating a comfortable living environment.

Roommate’s carelessness

If your roommate is not respectful of your personal space, sleeping or studying schedules, a number of issues will most certainly pop up. Ideally you will be living with a person who shares your preferences, but it’s also possible to put in some extra effort to compromise.

The truth is that a completely different person may shake up your routine, but you need to decide how much you are willing to tolerate. For the sake of avoiding unbearable and unpleasant situations, discuss with your roommate and try to coordinate your schedules and routines.

Roommates’ survival guide – how to make it work

Should I move in with my best friend?

roommates pinky promise

Set some ground rules even before you move in together

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, many strong friendships don’t seem to be prepared for this project. It doesn’t always turn out to be a bad idea, but many friendships haven’t passed the test. It’s always a good idea to have a clear checklist of what you are looking for in a roommate. And guess what? Good friends don’t necessarily make the perfect roommates. So, try to be realistic when checking your friend’s qualities against your checklist. Watch out for those characteristics that can make your friend an undesirable roommate. Here’s how you can tell if your friend will make a terrible roommate:

  • He/she is always late for appointments or meetings
  • Your potential roommate talks too much, but does too little
  • Your lifestyles and routines are completely different
  • He/she is not comfortable with sharing
  • He/she is fond of dramatic scenes

Are we going to share everything?

Aside from sharing living space and rent, there are other things you may want to split with your roommate in order to optimize space and budget. Keeping a healthy and fair relationship with your roommate is all about making the perfect balance that suits you both.

First and foremost, have an honest conversation with your roommate about the items you will bring to the apartment. Since bringing duplicate items makes no sense, make sure you reach an agreement about sharing the following items TV, electronics, kitchen appliances, textbooks. Sharing food, toiletries and other personal items can be tricky sometimes, so make sure to set clear boundaries when it comes to sharing. Don’t just assume that your roommate won’t mind if you use his/her personal objects without asking for permission.

How can I have some time apart?

a girl sitting in a room and reading a book

You may have some peace and quiet even when sharing a living space

Even if you and your best friend spend a lot of time together, now that you are roommates, it’s only healthy to spend some time apart. Let’s be honest, living with a roommate comes with a limited privacy, but everyone’s entitled to a moment of solitude when necessary.

If you need some quiet time every now and then, make sure to communicate your needs, preferences and expectations well in advance. Also, have some clear rules about inviting people over. Be respectful of your roommate’s schedule and try to organize your fun activities accordingly. Learn each other’s class schedules, sleep and study habits and try to coordinate your activities.

Let’s be honest, some people are not cut out for sharing their living space with someone else. If you find yourself having a hard time adapting on roommate’s presence start saving and arranging for a place only for yourself.