What are some tips on how to live with roommates and not have too much drama?
Whether you have your first roommate in college or are living in a house with 4 roommates who are all professionals living life in the “real world,” here are some tips for navigating the roommate world. I have lived with roommates, sometimes one at a time, sometimes 4, for over 10 years, so I can offer a little list of things to keep in mind.
Share Responsibilities: It is important to set the stage in who will take out the trash, share bill paying, clean the bathroom and empty the dishwasher- rotate chores or keep the same- try a system and if it doesn’t work try another one- find something that works for everyone. When you set out a chore chart like taking out the trash or weeding and people are not doing their job, it is ok to talk to them about it as everyone needs to pull their weight.
Set Expectations and Rules: Will everyone pay the bills within a week of getting them? Will overnight guests of either gender be allowed to stay over? Ask and answer some basic living style questions- work out a system and style that works. Don’t expect everyone to agree but find solutions that can be respectful compromises, and know what you won’t compromise.
Pick Your Battles Wisely- Do not make a big deal or complain about every little or big thing your roommate does or doesn’t do- the only one who will be most annoyed is yourself. Pick your battles on what is important to you- what really bothers you and solutions for how to fix it. One time my roommates and I had an epic long cable conflict. We couldn’t decide on what cable package to buy, some people didn’t want t.v. others did but didn’t have money. We finally voted on it and re-voted on it every year and sometimes it changed, sometimes it didn’t. Democracy worked, even though I was not happy when I could not view all the Hallmark channel Christmas shows since that was not in our package for a few years running.
Communicate and Resolve Conflict: Learn basic conflict resolution skills- listen and respect the other person even when you don’t agree. Share your thoughts and opinions and stand up for yourself (respectfully) if and when needed.
Laugh together and have fun: When you wake up in the morning and see black dots all over your floors and then realize they are moving and they realized your house is in invaded with termites and then realize it is not a good idea to try and vacuum them up as then they will just live in your vacuum and then you wait outside for the exterminator in your p.j.s, make sure you laugh together. Whoever said laughter is the best medicine was very wise indeed.
She Said Also…
Roommate living is a challenge, no matter how well you get along with any or all roommates. I was always very lucky because in college, I had the same roommate the whole time. We lived well together and rarely were there issues. That is unique. Upon graduating college, I bought my own condo where I lived alone for many years. And then I met my husband and the talk about living together came up. I won’t lie, I was about as reluctant as they come because of how spoiled I had been for years with my roommate situation(s). I wasn’t necessarily scared that I couldn’t live with him. I was scared that he wouldn’t be able to live with ME. It doesn’t take long for someone to get set in their ways and I feared that I would be a difficult person to live with.
When we dove into living together, we started out being rather polite with certain chores. Both of us are “particular” (that’s a nicer way of putting it) so certain things just happened naturally. That’s my first tip. See what sort of things happen naturally before having discussions about every little detail.
However, lucky )or unlucky) for my husband, I’m a bit of a control freak. So when we moved in together, I immediately ASKED to take over certain chores like managing the bills (although I complain about it every month). That’s tip #2. There ARE certain things that need to be determined early on. Look at what items are essential to your everyday living and make sure you address those things up front so you don’t end up with your electricity turned off or late fees on the cable bill because no one took ownership.
The longer we lived together though, the more “tense” things started to get in regards to who was doing what chores. The issue became that BOTH of us felt the other one was not pulling their weight. But what happened was that we didn’t really know what the other person was doing with other chores like yard work, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. So the little things like emptying the dishwasher or putting dishes away weren’t getting done. That is my final tip. Communicate. Let your roommate know what you plan to do or what you have done. If at any point you feel like your roommate is not pulling their weight, talk to them. Don’t let the frustration build up. Talk to them, work out a plan, and ask for help.
Living with someone is not easy whether they are your best friend, your spouse, your sister, or a complete stranger. You learn things about people you live that you would otherwise not want to know (seriously!) But with communication and flexibility, you can always make it work (unless your roommate is down right crazy…then I got nothin’ for ya).