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Advice for Living with Roommates for the First Time

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Living with roommates, from personal experience can go really well, or in some cases it can be a total nightmare. One thing that is important to consider is that not everyone has experience cohabiting with other people the same way in which roommates do, which is why it is crucial to give your roommates a chance before judging them. 

Besides the fun in meeting new people, making friends and spending quality time with your roommates, it is important to have a discussion further than what your favourite hobbies are and how you like to spend your Friday nights. People have different cleaning expectations, different schedules and possibly different opinions about the types of people they want to share a living space with.  

Moving in with other people can be scary at first as you essentially know nothing about your roommates or their living habits.  

From personal experience, I would say the most crucial first step to take is to set boundaries. Discuss issues such as when you would prefer “quiet time” in case you have a class or important commitments which you must focus on. Make sure to discuss a cleaning schedule so that the workload of maintaining a clean space does not fall solely onto one person.  

In addition to setting boundaries, it is important to discuss living expenses. If you and your roommates buy separate groceries, a great thing to do is to make a list of communal products in the household. This can include dish soap, laundry pods, cooking oil, paper towels, Kleenexes, etc. Usually, these are the items that you are going to want to split the cost of with the roommates, since they are generally used by everyone, and it is only fair that everyone contributes to the purchasing of them. 

Outline what you are what you aren’t comfortable with and make sure you are completely honest with your roommates as this is YOUR living space too and your opinions matter as much as everyone else’s in this situation.  

Now, it is important to consider roommates will not always be your friends, and in some circumstances, they can actually create a lot of stress and conflict within your home. Whether they are inconsiderate, unclean, or unaccommodating to your boundaries, fights can arise easily. The best thing to do in this situation is take some time to yourself to reflect on the situation. Do not confront your roommate without planning out a structured discussion first, as it may come off as hostile in the heat of the moment. Make a list of things that you would like them to change about their habits and contribute some ways in which you can help to make them more comfortable as well. Next, schedule a time to have a “roommate talk”, preferably in person, and try your best to ensure that everyone is present so that if issues are directed towards one person, they don’t feel attacked. Use this as a time to let everybody voice concerns, and don’t get upset if you hear something you don’t necessarily want to hear. Make sure to stay calm, and consider the best potential outcomes for everyone involved, not just your personal feelings. Try your best to really listen to your roommates and figure out ways to communicate compassionately with them. It’s very easy in situations like this to censor yourself in fear of hurting someone’s feelings, however, it is extremely important to bring issues to the surface instead of burying them inside as this will not lead to them being resolved. 

If all goes well, this should make a substantial difference in your living situation, and hopefully help to resolve any issues you may be having. In the worst cases your conversation is ineffective, the best thing to do is talk to someone about how you feel. This can range from a resident advisor to a parent/friend or even a guidance counsellor. At this point, there is not much that can be done if your roommates are violating your boundaries and making your living situation more difficult than it needs to be. Not to be too negative, but if your mental health is being jeopardised by the state of your home, please consider speaking to a professional. All things considered, almost everything can be resolved, and rarely do situations escalate to this point.  

Overall, when selecting roommates, remember to get to know your roommates. Try spending time with them and figuring out what shared interests you have, and most importantly, be open to experience anything, as this is also their first time in this situation, and you are not alone. 

Liza Zieaev

Wilfrid Laurier '24

Hi, my name is Liza and I am a third-year student at Laurier! My academic interests include anything relating from business to communications, and my personal interests include working out, reading and playing piano :)
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