Best Ways to Have a Positive Roommate Experience

There comes a time in your college career when you’ll need to make living arrangements for the coming years. If you choose to share an apartment or house then you will need to find a roommate or group of roommates.

The first step to having a positive roommate experience is to find a roommate or group of roommates that’s right for you. If you’re staying at the same school then there is a good chance you have met people in the dorms, in college classes, through friends, or during college activities.  That’s a good starting place to find roommates.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about a potential roommate:

  •  Do we have compatible personalities?
  • Do you enjoy their company?
  • Can you imagine sharing a living space with them?
  • Are they fair, honest and trustworthy?
  • Who do they include in their social circles?
  • Are they able to financially commit to a shared living arrangement?

If you have narrowed the list and solidified your roommate group the next step is finding a place to call home.  Now the real fun starts…

Communication is key.  The most critical component to having a positive roommate experience is communication.  The group needs to establish ground rules and expectations and be flexible along the way to make allowances and change things that aren’t working.  One of the worst things to do is to stay silent and let small issues become big issues!

How to be a good roommate.  Being a good roommate takes constant effort and consideration to maintain a happy home dynamic.  Here are some things you can do:

  • Clean up after yourself.  No one likes to come home to a sink overflowing with dirty dishes or a couch so cluttered that it’s not useable by anybody else.
  • Share chores.  Realize there are more chores then just keeping your clutter in check.   Perhaps all of the roommates need to take turns cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming and moping floors.
  • Respect shared spaces.  If you share laundry facilities don’t start the wash unless you can finish it and move your cloths along.  Don’t hog the refrigerator space or kitchen and bathroom counters and cabinets.  And if you study at the kitchen table, don’t expect your roommates to keep track of your school materials!
  • Be clear about what house items you want to share.   You may be okay with sharing your coffee maker but don’t want to pay for everyone’s coffee.  You may want to make arrangements with your roommates to take turns buying shared items such as food, cleaning supplies and printer paper.
  • Be clear about what personal items you want to share.   You may be comfortable sharing your speakers for special events but not your favorite party dress.  It’s no fun waking up to your roommate pawing through your closet trying to figure out what they want to wear for the day!
  • Pay bills.   Most often bill responsibilities are split up between roommates.  If you’re paying the bill, pay on time.  If you’re not paying the bill, pay your portion to the person paying the bill on time.  Don’t be the one everyone is always waiting on!
  • Discuss house guest etiquette.  Its important to establish understandings about who is allowed to stay over and for how long, in other words, you don’t want to inherit an automatic roommate because a boyfriend or girlfriend essentially moves in!
  • Noise and sleeping schedules.  These issues are especially critical if you’re sharing a room.  Perhaps if your roommate has an early schedule you can study in the shared living area later in the evening. Also be aware that just because you have a paper due the entire house will not necessarily be on the same page.  Sometimes the library will be a better study environment!
  • Set guidelines for social events.  Before planning a house party or social event it’s important to get buy-in from your roommates.  If they don’t want to participate then at least they have warning and can make other arrangements. But beware that whoever throws the party has the responsibility of cleaning up after it!
  • Spend some time having fun together. Maybe you can set up a movie night or go to campus sporting events together.  Sometimes roommates set up shared dinner nights.  Either way, have some fun together and make some memories.

Finally, always remember to follow the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.  Here’s to a great roommate experience!

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Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing degrees in communication and psychology. At school, Heidi can be found participating in psychology experiments or lounging on the quad. Outside of school, she enjoys exploring new cities, adventuring with friends, and playing with her puppy, Pancake.
Heidi Meier

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