How to Be a Good Roommate – Important Tips for All Types of Living Arrangements
Knowing how to be a good roommate has multiple benefits—for you and others sharing your space with you.
Prevent unnecessary conflict and enjoy your space so much more! Here we’ll discuss tips relevant to any living arrangement.
Moving into the first place you can call your ‘own’ instead of under your parents’ roof? A first tip from our side: don’t be too naïve about your new living arrangements.
Yes! Sharing a flat or a house with another person or a group of friends can be fun. But it comes with many challenges. And if they’re not managed correctly it can have huge implications—even on your future. Want to prevent being kicked out or ruining a friendship because of misunderstandings in the house? Then read this list of tips on how to be a good roommate, so you AND your roommates can enjoy your stay.
Bonus tip: if you’re living at home, some of these may even improve your relationship with your parents. So why not implement new habits?
Have Difficult Discussions BEFORE There’s a Fight
Much of the conflict that occurs when people share living spaces is because one or all parties have the wrong expectations. Rather have talks about difficult but important subjects at the outset and you’ll prevent many fights in the future.
Likes, Dislikes and Needs
Before you’ve lived with others from different backgrounds and cultures, you may assume everyone sees the world from your perspective. But your roommate may have needs completely opposite to what you’re used to. If you don’t voice them you can’t be considerate towards one another’s preferences. And if it sparks frustration it can lead to someone losing his or her temper and a full on fight can ensue.
For example, if your roommate can only sleep in absolute silence and you watch TV until late at night, your roommate will lose sleep and become irritable regarding your habits. Knowing this need and wanting to be a good roommate, you can use headphones. Alternatively, turn the volume down when your roommate retires for the night.
A few interesting topics to ask your roommates about:
- Their opinion about pets in their living space.
- Opinions about smoking or drinking at home—you never know who may be a recovering alcoholic.
- Does anyone mind family or friends sleeping over?
- Lifestyle choices that some may find controversial; perhaps of a sexual or religious nature.
To be good roommates, discuss these topics and decide how everyone can compromise.
Respecting Personal Space and Differences
Another discussion topic, that deserves its own mention, is how you and your roommates’ views on personal space may differ. Some may not mind sharing bathroom time while others need to be alone during their morning and evening routines. If your roommate doesn’t want you coming into his or her room unannounced, don’t!
Also, if you’re wondering how to be a good roommate, ask about other parties’ views on physical touch. Some may not like being hugged or touched at all, which you’ll need to respect.
Money is another topic that can quickly spark conflict, so make sure you know what is expected of you. Apart from covering rent, you may need to help pay for:
- Basic food supplies
- Internet access
- Cable TV
- Cleaning materials
Remember, good roommates pay on time so they don’t put anyone else’s budget under pressure.
Managing Relationships Inside the House
Apart from the general logistics of living together, interpersonal relationships have the power to make or break the vibe at home. Your house mates may not be your best friends, but learning how to be a good roommate does require some relationship building.
Spend Time Together
You don’t have to feel obligated to spend all your time with roommates, but building relationships with the others in the house is important. Living with strangers can be very awkward, so it will benefit everyone if you know each other a little better:
- You can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere
- You’ll understand each other better
- If someone has a bad day, he or she will feel comfortable sharing concerns and you’ll be able to provide necessary support
Don’t you want this from your roommates too?
Getting to know each other can be a simple as having coffee together in the morning or watching some TV at night.
While building relationships is important it’s vital you don’t expect more than the other party is willing to give. Don’t move in with the expectation that he or she will become your best buddy. They may only have a limited amount of time to spend with you. You need to respect their priorities and the fact that they already have other important people in their lives.
Create House Rules
When moving into a house you may be given a set of house rules and if it doesn’t happen, it’s best you suggest it. Having guidelines prevents chaos—and conflict.
Chores and Duties
As a good roommate it’s not fair to leave all the cleaning and maintenance to others. No matter how much time each person spends at home, everyone plays a role in the kitchen getting dirtied and the bathroom needing a good scrub.
Instead of hoping someone else will tend to it this week, divide household chores fairly. Aside from general tasks like cleaning up after dinner, it should include items like:
- Taking out trash regularly
- Cleaning the bathroom surfaces—and toilet
- Wiping the inside of the fridge and oven
- Washing curtains
It’s up to the group whether everyone picks their favorite chore or you rotate duties. In most cases everyone’s rooms can be their own responsibility.
A chore chart of even technology can make this so much easier for everyone to keep track of their tasks. Apps like Enzo can help list and allocate tasks, preventing misunderstandings and reminding everyone what needs to get done today.
Compromising in the Kitchen
Mealtimes can be fun but can just as easily turn sour. Imagine you cooking with ingredients someone else is allergic to. Even cooking with flavors others find unpleasant can be a problem, so using the kitchen requires a few ground rules.
Stipulate what the kitchen can be used for and even allocate times for different house mates if you don’t plan on cooking all meals together. It won’t work if everyone wants to use the stove at the same time to cook a 3-course meal.
The space inside the fridge and cupboards also requires some management. Decide which grocery items you’ll all use and pay for, such as coffee or sugar. Other items need to be labeled clearly if you don’t want someone using your favorite cheese before you get to making the meal you’ve been dreaming about.
Buying food is a huge expense and you eating someone else’s ingredients may mean they don’t have anything else to eat until pay day. So remember, as a good roommate you’ll respect the rules and keep your hands off anything that doesn’t have your name on.
Sign a Contract and Keep to it
Play it safe and stipulate all the details above in a detailed contract. This will communicate to everyone what’s expected and they can refer back to it if they’re unsure about something. And then you and all your housemates need to adhere to the guidelines if you want to keep your home life comfortable and conflict-free.
Lastly: Small Things Make All the Difference
When strategizing on how to be a good housemate, the ‘big’ issues like lifestyle choices and allergies are vital. But don’t forget the small things!
Not cleaning up after yourself or using cupboard space meant for a roommate can cause a lot of inconvenience. And if you don’t amend your ways, the situation can quickly escalate, cause conflict and even create a rift between you.
So, be diligent in keeping to the rules as well as living in a way that proves you respect your housemates. That’s how you make sure that space is a safe haven for everyone.
Ready to be the best roommate around? Why not make this process easy on everyone involved and download the Enzo app?