Living with roommates has its perks such as unlimited “get-out-of-jail” cards when you (inevitably) forget your keys as well as the fact that each roommate brings something new to the table, literally and figuratively.
We’ve all heard horrific roommate stories. I’ve heard a story that involved the roommate peeing into water bottles instead of the toilet…and stocking each water bottle as if they were preserving jams and jellies. Big yikes.
To avoid an uncomfortable roommate experience (and water bottles of urine), it wouldn’t hurt to discuss a roommate agreement. Even if you’re living with your best friend, these parameters will remind your roommates what is expected of them, including yourself.
In other words, a roommate agreement keeps everyone in check. It’s also never too late to discuss or re-discuss an agreement; your needs are ever-changing, so it’s normal to revise.
What should be included in a roommate agreement? Anything under the sun. I’ve had my fair share of roommate experiences, none of them terrifying, and over the years I’ve mentally compiled a list of discussion points that have been helpful when learning how to share a space with roommates. This list does not include topics such as rent, security deposits, or utilities.
- Shoes Off Household?
Some household customs and cultures have a “shoes-off at the door” policy. Do any of your roommates observe this custom?
- Division of Food
Find commonalities in everyone’s diet, perhaps food can be shared and costs cut.
- Allergies? Phobias?
Allergies are no joke…neither are phobias. Ask your roommates if they’re sensitive to anything in particular or vice versa. This gesture of thoughtfulness will go a long way.
- House Chores
If your roommates consistently fail to do their part when it comes to keeping a clean space, introduce a tally of who takes out the trash, vacuums, cleans the bathroom, etc. Hopefully this will incentivize those who slack off, as well as guilt trip them when they see all the tallies under your name and none under theirs. It’s a visual representation of who the backbone of the household really is.
- Who’s On The Guest List?
Shoot your roommates a quick text if you’re having guests over, so they don’t unknowingly walk out of the bathroom in their purple polka dot robe sporting a bright green face mask. Just a simple heads-up is respectful if your roommates value their privacy.
- Hot or Cold?
If you have control over the temperature of your space, ask your roomies if they prefer to turn the thermostat up or down. While some people like tundra temperatures, others may prefer a comfortable room temperature. Come to a thermostat agreement!
- Drink? Smoke?
Do you or your roommates drink or smoke? Will their habits bother you or vice versa? Are you comfortable with the smell and smoke of weed? Does the sight of alcohol make you queasy? Establish how you feel about drinking or smoking with your roommates as soon as possible.
- Emergency Contact?
In case of an emergency, who should be notified? Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Family Friend?
- Morning Bird or Night Owl?
Will you or your roommates rise early and click and clang breakfast dishes at 8AM? Or finally turn the lights and TV off at 3AM? Exchange schedules and sleeping habits!
- What’s Mine Is Yours, or Every Person for Themselves?
Which kitchen appliances, dishes, utensils, hair-care products will be shared? Perhaps some things are off limits or up for grabs…as long as it’s returned in its original condition!
As long as an open line of communication is established, your roommate arrangement should be a positive experience! Keep in mind that everyone’s confrontation style is different and everyone’s level of emotional intelligence varies. Conflict resolution can intimidate some people because they don’t know how to approach it, so an open line of communication is vital, whether that communication is in-person or via text!