At long last, you’ve escaped to college. Away from controlling authority figures, irritating siblings and the little hope of ever getting the ride. Aha, yes – autonomy, independence, liberty!
Yet…the smell of freedom has been overpowered by the lingering odour of leftover lasagna that your new roommate has left sitting on the kitchen counter for the last three days. You’ve been landed with a difficult roommate, how unfortunate. Say hello to Jessica*. She is a first year Communications student with a ridiculously low amount of hours in college per week. Despite this, she never has space in her schedule to do the dishes but just enough time to have loud prinks every single night. At those prinks, she wears the same clothes as you. Strange. Her jeans have the exact same rip above the knee. Wait, they are your clothes. And let’s not forget about your other roommate Shane* either. Oh, you didn’t realise you had two roommates? Well technically you don’t, but Shane is Jessica’s boyfriend and you hardly thought they were going to try a long-distance relationship in college? Shane lives an entire half an hour away!
Yes, roommates can be a pain. But they don’t have to be. Follow these guidelines to achieve roommate harmony:
- Set down the guidelines from the outset
It’s always good to set down some guidelines for the household once you move in together (if possible, beforehand). This can just be a casual conversation. There doesn’t have to be a big laminated poster in the sitting room with gold stars awarded for good behaviour. Just simply check in with your roommates about what actions are deemed acceptable. Is borrowing food or clothes okay? Maybe just if you ask first or return the favour? How often can you have visitors? Just one, or is a group reasonable? How late can you play music off the portable speaker? Are you allowed play your guilty pleasure country music or is that specifically reserved for earphone listening?
- Make a cleaning chart
This is a little bit more of formal guideline but it’s sometimes necessary. It ensures that one roommate doesn’t end up doing all of the cleaning. However, try not to make this chart without consulting your roommates. Sit down together and decide what tasks need to be done every week. Ensure you’ve taken into account when everyone is available to do these tasks. Roommates will be more willing to follow the chart if you’ve consulted them during the drafting process.
- Keep the conversation open
As time goes on, problems are going to arise that you may have not even considered. I mean who walks around naked in shared accommodation? In these situations, you should have an open conversation with your roommate. You have to express what is bothering you and why it’s bothering you and suggest a possible remedy to the issue. Remember to listen to how they feel about the problem. Understanding is the key to reaching a compromise.
*Names and characters in this article are entirely fictional, for the purpose of examples only.