With the beginning of the new academic year, many of us might find ourselves sharing spaces – whether that be in a digs, res, or in private accommodation. Sharing spaces can be hard to navigate especially if it’s your first year away from home, but as the year goes by you will learn more about your respective roomies and how to live with them. In the meantime, here are some tips I find useful when living with roomies.
- Group chat
First and foremost, having a group chat is super convenient and will help you communicate things with each other like; letting your roommates know if you’re having someone over, if you plan on being in the common area with a friend or if you’re not coming home. This also creates a system where your roommates are able to check on you and keep an eye out for your safety. Although a group chat can be good for communicating, avoid bringing up conflicts over the phone as this could get heated quickly.
The tone of the group chat will also depend on how many people are on it, but it can also serve as a platform to bring each other closer by sending a tik tok you found funny or want to recreate, a new restaurant you might want to check out together, or if you’ve baked brownies and are willing to spare a few for your new roomies.
- Laying down the rules
When you first start living together setting some ground rules can help avoid conflicts down the road. Some areas you may want to cover could include; sharing of food, how long boy/girlfriends stay over, cleaning, paying electricity, having friends over, etc.
Tip: the system regarding food that my roommates and I (there’s 3 of us) have adopted and has worked well for us, is that each person has a cooking day in the week and decides what they will cook for everyone in advance. Then each Sunday we go grocery shopping together and split the bill. It amounts to each person paying R1000 a month, however, if you’re living with someone who can’t throw down in the kitchen it might be less hassle to go solo on this one.
- Get a bucket and a mop
Chores! Chores! Chores! The best way to tackle chores is to lay down the law right from the get-go. Set up a roster where each roommate is responsible for cleaning the common area each week and work on a rotation. Dishes should never sit for too long after someone has cooked or eaten. A rule could be to wash up immediately after cooking and make sure your dishes are clean before heading out for the day.
A great way to live more harmoniously with your roommates is if you know each other better. A great way to do this is to watch a series together that comes out each week or go out for a food special or happy hour.
- Communication REALLY is key
Although it may be difficult to communicate things, sitting your roommates down for a chat or mentioning something that’s been bothering you can go a long way – and rather sooner than later. Communicating things you might not be okay with in the house is important but communicating when you’re going through a tough time is just as important. It can help your roommates understand and be more sympathetic to your situation e.g. why washing up, or replying on the group might not be your first priority.
- Respect personal space
Lastly, being a roommate does not mean movie nights, makeovers and miniature dance parties at 2am. YES, sometimes that can be fun BUT you’re not required to hang out all the time. Sometimes people need to be alone or just do nothing.