Space-sharing 101: What we all should’ve learned in undergrad.

Who took out the trash last? Who has a mini-fridge and who has a TV? Who likes to study at night and who gets up at the crack of dawn? Who’s more likely to leave passive-aggressive notes on the bathroom mirror?

Having a roommate is one of the understood necessities of most of our collegiate lives, and for some of us, even our childhood. No matter your age, there are certain things to keep in mind when sharing a living space if you want an comfortable environment – and to hopefully avoid any rough patches!

Remember these five core ideas when you need to get a roommate or patch things up with your current one.

1. Best friends aren’t always the best roommates.

If you’re in a situation in which a roommate is selected for you or you’re searching on your own, there is one important rule to keep in mind that many of us seem to forget: living with your best friend is almost always a bad idea. Sharing a space with anyone – especially if you’ve never tried it before – is hard! If you want to keep a beautiful friendship beautiful, avoid the trials and tribulations of moving in together if you still can. It’s possible that living together would turn you into mortal enemies who fight over dishes in the sink more than you talk!

2. Clean home makes for a clean mind.

It sounds easy enough: clean up after yourself. But no, really, do your best to clean up after yourself. Don’t leave your dishes in the sink for two weeks (a real experience from a past roommate of mine), don’t shove a cereal bowl full of milk into your dresser and forget it (another real one), and don’t leave your feminine hygiene products in a spot where your cat can – and repeatedly will – get to them to play with (also real). You may not have the best of cleaning habits at your parents’ house, but when you have a roommate, you need to respect that the space is also theirs. Cereal bowls and all!


3. Please and thank you!

Another simple rule we learn as children: when you need to ask for something, remember “please and thank you.” And here’s a bonus rule – remember to actually ask. It’s not really enjoyable for me when I see all my hair products in the bathroom moved around because my roommate thought it was cool to use them without asking (it’s not). Even more enjoyable? When the bag of Cheetos I was planning on  junk-food-binging on is nowhere to be found. It’s okay to share things inside your shared space – as long as you don’t assume you have permission.

4. You’re not alone. (Really.)

I understand that my roommate needs to get up early for her full-time job, but do I particularly like when she blasts Mumford and Sons from the shower at 7:15 in the morning while I’m trying to sleep? No, not really. Make sure that when you live with a roommate, you keep your spacial awareness in the back of your mind at all times. It’ll make for less banging on the bathroom door!

5. The Golden Rule.

The four prior ideas all add up to one age-old thing: treat your roommate as you would like to be treated. Remember to be yourself and cordial, but always ask yourself a quick “Would I like it?” before jumping into a decision. Would I mind if my roommate barged in on a conversation with my significant other and I? Yes? I probably should leave them alone, then.
Your home – whether it’s a city apartment, a tiny dorm room, or even a sprawling house – is your haven. It needs to be where you feel safest to relax, work, and most of all, live.

Practice discernment when seeking out and choosing a roommate well-suited for your living style. If you’re in an uncomfortable situation, don’t be afraid to talk it out or even to switch things up. But as long as you and your roommate follow these five pieces of advice, your home should be harmonious for everyone!


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