How to Live With Strangers (And How to Do it Well)

Previously before moving to China, I had lived with one roommate for a year before moving back in with my parents. To keep it short and sweet, we were vastly different people. But hey, that’s how the world works. You don’t pick your family, your school registration dates, which guy buys you a drink at the bar, or the picture your friends post, and most of the time, you don’t pick your roommates. So, whether you are moving into a new apartment and gaining some new roomies, getting married, or staying with a host family over summer break during your study abroad, you are going to need to keep some things in mind. Here are a few tricks of the trade to have a great experience living with strangers!


Remember: You are completely different human beings.

You need to come to the understanding that you are living with someone who is different than you. They were not raised the same way as you, do not have they same night time philosophy, cleanliness ideals, grocery store habits, music tastes, and all things related to living out one’s day to day life. Your new roommate could be your very best friend or your new spouse, and they are still going to do things that are going to drive you up the wall. Maybe your roommate doesn’t keep meat produce on the bottom drawer/self or prefers the fruit room temperature, or doesn’t care to put effort into keeping the level of organization and cleanliness to your liking. It’s a big possibility that their sleep schedule varies from yours and they want to eat breakfast at 5am whilst listening to motivational speeches without earphones. All things possible, believe me. When this happens, it’s important and crucial to keep an open mind, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that they could be feeling the same exact way about your lifestyle choices.


Go over expectations at the beginning

If I could offer only one piece of advice, it would be this: talk about living expectations right off the bat. Do not wait a month in to speak up about a big pet peeve you have because the longer you wait, the more time there is for resentment to build and new habits to form. My advice is to go over all things chore related such as laundry, cleaning, dishes, etc. and make a chart! Make that baby permanent and visible so there are no disputes or room for error. It will help keep everyone accountable and happy in the long run. If you have any specific pet peeves, list those at the get-go too so your new living cohabitants know what not to do to make your blood boil. If you don’t like it when the dishes pile up in the sink, say it. If you don’t like hair on the bathroom floor, say it. Say it! It will save you so much frustration and possibly your future relationship with that person.

Give the extra effort

Going the extra mile for someone makes all the difference in the world. Everyone just wants to be shown that someone cares about them enough to invest effort into their wants and their needs. Bring home an extra ice cream cone, take out the trash, and plan weekly things you can do together, such as nacho Mondays! Don’t lock yourself in your room and hide away on your phone. Do your best to make genuine connections to the people you are living with because it’s a lot easier to live with someone you like and understand. Plus, it’s fun to make new friends!


Living with people can be an uphill battle, but it’s a great way to see the world through new eyes and test your own perspective. Always stay positive and put your best foot forward. Chances are, you are going to meet some incredible people who are going to change your life.

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