As September approaches, many students and young adults may be considering a roommate. Especially for those who have never had a roommate, there may be many questions looming: Do you need a roommate? How do you pick your roomie? How do you get along with someone sharing your living space? We discuss these burning questions in a practical way, so you can have the best co-habitation possible.
Should You Have a Roommate?
When considering a roommate, there are two major components to this decision: personal and financial. Your living situation has a massive impact on your wellbeing, and both of these components should be weighed against each other to make the final decision. Ultimately, it comes down to your needs first, then your wants.
Whether you are moving in together for school or simply to share a space, you should understand yourself. If you need perfect silence to sleep, your roommate would need to be exceptionally quiet, have the same schedule, or the place you choose must have very good sound insulation. If you are a private person you may want a room large enough to spend a lot of your personal time in. On the other hand, if you are a social person and plan to have friends over, you need to ensure your roommate is okay with a variety of folks in their residence or wants to be social themselves.
Finances are a main reason people consider having a roommate. Bringing your living accommodation cost down, in favour of using finances for other needs or wants, is why many choose a roommate. A certain neighbourhood, for example, may be desired but not achievable without someone assisting with the cost of rent. Perhaps you are looking to bank extra cash per month or create a savings account. A roommate and the right place could give you that monthly influx you are looking to hit. This may be more important than having the perfect sleep 7 days a week.
How Do You Pick a Roommate?
Maybe you’re looking for that roommate who will be a forever friend or plan to live with someone you already know. Or perhaps you are looking for an acquaintance or even someone you don’t know that will lead a completely separate life from you during your shared living experience. All are reasonable options, but you should decide this before going in to your roommate search. Ensure you go over these key things when making the choice to move in together.
Some roommates do everything together – cooking, socializing, maybe even carpooling. This may mean integrating friend groups and sharing personal time at home. If your expectations are that you won’t share a life, merely a house, this must be factored in and articulated to who you choose to live with.
They may be your best friend, but if they are working a 9 to 5 while you take afternoon university classes and bartend 4 nights a week, your schedules could quickly cause a conflict. They could be keeping you up at night with late night study sessions, or they might be waking you up each morning with their smoothie blender. Over time, this can potentially, worst-case, erode the friendship you’ve developed over the years.
Watching loud action films, nightly popcorn snacking, and keeping impeccably neat quarters might be your personal habits, but how are they going to affect your roommate? They may abhor the smell of certain foods, or they could be a housemate that doesn’t necessarily make tidiness a priority. These things will quickly cause tension and can be hard to resolve. While you need to respect your roommate, your home is still the place you come to unwind. Whether this means keeping the noise down or them keeping the mess to their room, these are important habits to be aware of.
How Do You Get Along with a Roommate?
A roommate has the potential to support you through all your ups and down throughout the year. They could be a good person to bounce ideas off of or vent to. But it’s important to know whether your temperaments will mesh well together. As with romantic relationships, it can be extremely helpful to have qualities that complement each other’s. Beyond that, there are a few things that should be ironed out before committing.
Before moving in together, it’s essential to put all your expectations on the table. Will you take turns cooking meals or just cook for yourselves? Will you share household items like hand soap or milk? When is the house “quiet time”? Is this a place to have a house party? All these considerations should be discussed so you are both happy and comfortable with your agreement. If you find someone with similar expectations to yours, your living arrangements could be much more fulfilling than living alone.
From food to couches, deciding what will be shared can save you a lot of disagreement. There are many ways to split things up—food, dishes, chores, expenses—you want to find a middle ground that everyone is happy with. For example, you might consider creating a chore chart to divide household responsibilities equally. And maybe you’ll decide to not share all your food, but you will share condiments. If you’re concerned over the long-term adherence to the rules, writing out a to-do board or drafting a roommate agreement can keep everyone accountable.
Voice Your Concerns Immediately
One of the most important things to remember when sharing your home is to not let problems fester. The longer you wait to bring something up, the more problematic it can become to deal with. Open communication gets everything out there and allows everyone to feel heard. It may also present issues that can be resolved very simply, like towels on the floor or dishes in the sink. If the other person realizes how much those aspects upset you, it should be easy for them to show you respect by cleaning up after themselves.
Your Roommate, Your Ally
Although your living situation may only last for a few months or years, it’s still important to take your time in deciding what is best for you. You may discover a new friend you stay close with for the rest of your life, or you may find that living with your best friend is a strain on your relationship. Considering these questions before signing on the dotted line could be the key to a happy house-sharing experience.
For reading on moving in with your partner, read The Logistics of Moving in Together.
If you’re leaving the nest for the first time, read Your Guide to Moving Out for the First Time