Living with roommates can be a very fun experience for college students, but it can also be complicated. If it’s your first time sharing a space with someone that isn’t family, you’ll have to learn each other’s tendencies, respect each other’s space and, most importantly, communicate. Here are a few tips for sharing a space with roommates.
Establish relationships: It’s important to realize that everyone comes from a different background and will have different “norms.” That is why it’s helpful to have open communication and share what is important to each of you. Within the first few weeks of living together, you will have a much better understanding of how your roommates live day-to-day, but having an open dialogue will make the process smoother. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to get a better understanding of the needs of each person in the home.
Set schedules: Students follow different schedules between attending class, club meetings and other events around campus. It’s important to respect the timing needs of each roommate. If you have classes in the morning and your roommates don’t, try not to make too much noise that could wake anybody else. Along the same lines, if you are going out or having friends over in the evenings, you may need to keep the noise level low if your roommates are sleeping or studying for their classes. Consider writing everyone’s schedules on the refrigerator or other common area so everyone’s on the same page.
Respect personal space: When you share a living space with others, personal space becomes very important. Most personal items will probably be kept in bedrooms, but some of your belongings may stay in the common spaces in your home – such as the living room or kitchen. If you would like your roommates to either ask permission to use these items or not use them at all, explain this from the beginning so that there is no confusion. Consider renting major items like living room furniture so there is shared responsibility for their care.
Discuss expenses: If you are living in an off-campus apartment or house, you will likely be sharing several costs of living, such as rent, furniture, utilities and other every day expenses. When you first move into your home, it’s important to sit down and discuss how you will divide up living expenses in a fair manner. If you will be taking trips to the grocery store, have a discussion about whether it makes sense to split the cost of groceries evenly or if each member of the home should purchase their own food.
College is all about making connections. For many, the roommates you have in college will become lifelong friends. Like any relationship, you’ll need good communication to establish a friendship. You’re not going to fully understand all that’s involved in living with roommates until you move in, but keeping these tips in mind throughout the process will help get things started!