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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapman chapter.

1. Get to know your roommate first.

How? Go out to eat – at the cafeteria, at a restaurant, whatever. Go share a meal and talk. Talk about schedules, majors, friends, family, games, and movies, whatever. Get to know them a little (after all, you’ll be living with them). This is an especially good idea if you have more than one roommate. Your roommates are more important than your Orientation group social circle because you have to live with them. You need to be comfortable with them. You also need to be able to talk to them later on if something is bothering you, which will never go over well if you’re awkward with each other. Meals are the best time to get over the awkwardness…probably because you are sticking food in your mouth, and you’re watching someone chew while talking about something funny. Essentially, it breaks the ice.

2. Lay out your comfort zones.

Maybe you don’t like people sleeping on your bed (I had a roommate who was comfortable flopping down on anyone’s bed, and that bothered me). Maybe you need your alarm to go off twenty times to wake up. Maybe you’re fine with things being messy but not filthy – while your roommate needs everything to be spotless. Maybe you need quiet to study and they like music while studying. You don’t have to cover everything in the first week, but laying out the initial comfort zones is best because it helps you get to know each other better. Plus, when you’re comfortable talking, you can discuss things that bother you openly, leading to fewer fights and more fun.

3. Always respect your roommate.

This is a give and take relationship – they’ll have things that make them uncomfortable too, and if they discuss it with you, try to correct the issue (if possible). Take, for example, music. Maybe you study to music and have a great stereo that you’re using when they come in from class and start studying. They ask if you can put in headphones because they need quiet to study. That is an easy thing to do, so do it. Let’s say that they have a printer and the blinking light bothers you at night. Ask if they can put a piece of washi-tape over it because it bothers you at night. Most conversations should lead to peaceful cohabitation if your roommate is agreeable and you both show respect for the other’s habits.

4. Do not take without asking.

Doesn’t matter what it is – shampoo, a brush, charger cable. Whatever it is – ask first. Let’s say there is a dirty dish and you want to take it to the kitchen sink… that’s right, ask first. Why? Because for some people, it bothers them to have their stuff touched or used without being told. (Even a dirty dish moved to the sink can end in them being totally miffed.) So, ask.

5. Mark all your stuff (not including clothes).

Take a sharpie, or get some tape, or invest in a specific sticker set because you need to mark your stuff. Dishes should have a name on them, as should your charger cables, bathroom caddy, and electronics – just about everything. I invested in some very durable stickers that I put on all my important objects (and planner) that let all my roommates know what was mine. Guess what? I never had a problem with people returning borrowed stuff – because everyone knew what was mine. Some of my other roommates had problems, though. One time there was a fight over a phone charger that nearly led to one of the roommates requesting a room change in the middle of the year. Save yourself the trouble – mark your stuff.

6. Divide the chores.

If your living space is a room with two beds, desks, and dressers, then your responsibility is probably just your side of the room. However, in some dorms, you may have a shared bedroom and a community bathroom – or a joint bathroom with another two roommates next door – or maybe you share a kitchen, bathroom, and living room with eight people, but have a room to yourself. In any case, the shared space outside of your bedroom area requires someone keeping up with the cleaning. So divide them – maybe by week, or by task, or by lottery, doesn’t matter how, it only matters that you do. When you divide them up and hold each roommate to the agreement, including yourself, you’ll find your living situation to be healthier and happier than fighting over who should vacuum the floor or passive aggressively making comments about the dishes that have sat there for a week.

Follow these and you should be getting along all year!


Freelance Editor and Writer