How to Avoid the Typical Roommate Horror Story

Having a good roommate while in college can be a huge factor in achieving a great college experience. Sharing a living space with another person is not always easy and can lead to roommate horror stories which I have had myself. Finding out how to live with someone else can be challenging and frustrating, however, good communication is the key to a healthy living situation. Here are some great tips regarding communication to make you and your roommates' college living experience fun, easy, and full of great memories. 

Shared Living Spaces & Cleaning 

a woman stands over the stove cutting an herb out of a pot on the window sill with a pair of scissors. there are pans of pasta stirfry on the burner. Tina Dawson | Unsplash Every person has a different lifestyle, expectations of cleanliness, and decor preferences. In a shared space such as bathrooms, kitchens, and living rooms, it is important to understand and communicate with your roommate what you are comfortable with and how to meet one another in the middle. My roommate and I now both prefer a very clean household, however, understand that life happens. For instance, we have expressed to one another that sometimes on an off day or when we are really busy it’s just not going to be like that. If my roommate has been busy all day and is stressed, I will pick up and clean even if it's her stuff while she’s at work. If she sees that I just made an elaborate dinner and have been cleaning throughout the day, she will do all the dishes. It doesn’t work this easy for everyone, but communicating a balance is different for each individual and a key aspect of how to live with another person. Being considerate and taking into account what the other person has going on is extremely important. 

Guests & Company 

three women lay next to each other on a bed with their feet up in the air. Katarzyna Grabowska | Unsplash This is a big factor in many reasons for arguments between roommates. Whether you or your roommate has a large number of guests over, a significant other, or people passing through at different points in the day, it is important to acknowledge what they are comfortable with. Letting one another know in advance or simply asking if they are okay with guests coming over is not only important but an essential conversation to have considering you both share a house equally. It is completely fine to let one another know that you would prefer if they went somewhere else for a large gathering or time with friends. No one wants to feel uncomfortable by other people’s presence in their own home and being mindful of each other can go a long way. 

Costs & Living Expenses 

person holding money Sharon McCutcheon

Before finding a roommate, it is important to establish what will work for you guys in a financial aspect. I have heard so many stories of roommates not paying on time or not splitting things up equally. The last thing you want to happen is to get a roommate who is consistently unable to pay for their portion of living expenses that you were not aware of beforehand. Having that conversation can be awkward but 100% necessary while living with someone else. My roommate and I now got pretty lucky where we both can split things equally and are easy-going with expenses. We have had conversations when things have gotten tough financially and have found compromises or spotted one another in months that were tougher but always paid another back. Grocery shopping is similar to this as well. Whether you and your roommate buy your food individually or shop together, finding what style works best for you will make your experience easier. If you or your roommate find yourselves on different pages financially, express that to one another and find a dynamic that works for you both. 

Personal Time 

Woman Covering Face With Book On Bed Lina Kivaka / Pexels Truly taking the time to understand what type of personality, lifestyle, activities, and downtime your roommate enjoys is key to balancing living with one another and personal space. Is your roommate someone who prefers to unwind alone? Do they need a lot of quiet time? Do they like to be included in things you do? Are there certain days or hours they need silence to get things done? Do they have a certain time they like to be in bed? These are all important questions to ask each other to achieve personal space. Understanding how your roommate works and how they find peace in a home will make your relationship healthier and way easier than not taking the time to understand them. 

Roommates can be tricky but focusing on open communication and mindfulness is an essential part of navigating shared living spaces. Proper communication with a roommate can lead to some of the best, fun, and memorable times from your college experience despite how different you guys may be. My roommate and I are from very different places and differ in lifestyles but we understand each other. I’ve had one of the best living situations coming into college with a random roommate because both of us found it valuable to communicate. Remember to focus on communication and those potentially awkward conversations that need to be set in stone to live comfortably and for you to both enjoy your experience.