You always hear stories about terrible roommates that people deal with at some point in their college life. And now that we have begun a new quarter, it’s about that time that true colors begin to show, whether it’s your own or your roommates’! Her Campus has a few tips to help you survive the rest of the year in your current living situation. Whether you are dealing with multiple roommates or housemates, we are here to guide you!
1. Communication, communication, communication!
This cannot be stressed enough. Be honest. Make your needs heard and be willing to listen to theirs! Also, it’s important to stress the difference between NEEDS and wants. Everyone has wants, but when you live with five or more people, it’s hard to accommodate the desires of everyone. Compromises must be met. Don’t let anyone you live with devalue what you really need. Let yourself be heard and speak up if you feel that things around the house are getting messy, you don’t have adequate space for food in the refrigerator, or you need place to put your toothbrush on the bathroom counter. If you are shy or don’t enjoy confrontation, talk to one of your roomies who is comfortable with speaking up and can be the “facilitator” to mention your needs on your behalf, anonymously or not.
2. Make a contract.
Get everyone together and write out a list of duties, rules, and plans of action when situations arise. This may take some negotiating and compromising, but it is essential for those moments when not everyone contributes to making the living environment enjoyable. Here are a few suggestions of things to list in the contract: trash duties (who will take it out when), house cleaning days, dish duties and how they will be taken care of if they start piling up, overnight guests, cleaning up the common areas at the end of the night, etc. After the contract has been written, have everyone sign it and refer to it as needed whenever issues reoccur.
3. Remember, you don’t have to be best friends.
Let’s face it; even though you might have hoped that your roommates/ housemates would become the people you do everything with, that’s not always the case. When you live with someone, you see all sides of that person and true colors usually begin to show after a few weeks or months go by. Once everyone has become comfortable around each other, boundaries can potentially get crossed. When you see that much of a person, it is not uncommon that you find yourself realizing how different you truly are from them. If this is the case for you, accept that you guys are roommates for the time being and be civil. If you find this difficult, then distance yourself from that person in whatever way works for you, but do acknowledge them and keep it polite with a “hi” or “how are you” every once and a while. Then, carry on with your business.
4. Be respectful.
We all come from different living situations pre-college, and there are a few of us who just don’t know how to be a roommate or seem not to have learned the basic principals of “sharing.” Still, this is no excuse for anyone! College is a growing process meant to make you into a better individual, and learning to share and live with other people is a major factor. Be aware of how much space you are using outside of your own, and if you don’t have room for every single one of your favorite mugs or a 50 pack of your favorite snack, downsize or send them back home. It’s not the end of the world and if anything, you can come to an agreement with your roommates to split and share space with them, too. No one wants to live with a space hog, so next time you go on a Costco run, leave the massive bags of freezable Dino-Nuggets behind.
5. Lock your room/ have a safe.
Most of us have faith in mankind, but honestly there are a good number of people out there who are perfectly fine with stealing another person’s belongings. Don’t be so quick to easily trust any of your roommates. Give yourself the piece of mind and lock up all valuables, and if you find things missing, speak up about it, because that $20 you put on your desk did not just grow legs and walk away.
6. Be open to change and keep an open mind.
A lot can happen within the course of a school year. People experience break ups, new relationships, family troubles, financial issues, a hard round of classes, etc., which can all affect how a person lives day to day. Realize that people can change, and life happens. If a roomie is feeling particularly down or lashes out, it’s coming from somewhere. Reach out and ask if they need someone to talk to or invite them to the next basketball game. If they continue to lash out, accept that it’s their issue and it’s not your job to make them feel better or resolve all their issues. Give them space and allow time to work its magic. Also, if things have started to get boring and plain in your apartment, switch things up. Feng shui your living room or rearrange your bedroom (with your roommates’ approval, of course).
Good luck, collegiettes!