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How to be a Good Roommate

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Whether you live on-campus or off-campus, chances are you have one or more roommates. Sharing a place means you’ll be around other people and save some money on housing. These advantages don’t mean a roommates won’t be frustrating at times. Things like schedules, noise levels, habits, moodiness, and bills can all cause problems for roommates. Being open-minded and respectful will make life much easier on both of you.

Here are some tips for living with a roommate:

  • Establish Rules

Talk about each person’s preferences right away. Are they an early riser? Do you like to listen to loud music? Knowing things like this can help you to establish rules. Make sure the rules are clear. Some issues you may want to address are overnight guests, schedules, habits, borrowing, etc.

  • Compromise

Compromising is very important whenever people are living together. You are attempting to blend two lifestyles that are very similar or very different. Compromising doesn’t mean one person is surrendering to another person. It is the act of two people working together towards a solution they can live with. Nobody gets their way all of the time.

  • Communicate

If something frustrates you, tell your roommate. You have to communicate to have a good relationship and to live together peacefully. Talk through issues before they become problems and get out of control. You can expect to annoy each other at times – this is normal. Communicating doesn’t mean you can be critical or nitpick. It means being honest. Choose your battles carefully. Don’t complain about everything. Keep in mind that you may be driving them just as crazy as they’re driving you.

  • Find ways to appreciate your roommate

Get beyond appearances. There isn’t a person on earth who doesn’t have something interesting about them. Figure out what it is, observe it, ask about it, talk about it.

  • Clean up after yourself

Keeping your room clean can seem unimportant when you’re busy with classes and activities. Keep in mind that your room is not your own. Being a pig is just plain rude to your roommate. Pick up your laundry. Make your bed. Throw away your trash.

  • Be reasonable about visits from significant others

Visits from boyfriends and girlfriends can cause serious roommate conflicts. Never invite anyone to sleep over unless you are positive it’s okay with your roommate. Don’t abuse the privilege. Never get physical when your roommate is around, even if he or she is asleep.

  • Don’t do things that make your roommate uncomfortable

It’s a bad idea to keep drugs or alcohol in your room. If your roommate objects, it’s an even worse idea. This rule applies to more minor issues as well.

  • Don’t talk about your roommate’s secrets

Even when roommates aren’t close, they know a lot about each other. You may stumble upon some private information. Don’t talk about it.

  • Keep your expectations realistic

Some people go into a roommate situation expecting to be life-long friends. It can be crushing to find out your roommate has a vast social network and sees a dorm room as just a place to sleep. Be realistic about your relationship with your roommate – just because you’re not best friends, doesn’t mean that you can’t get along well.

If you still have roommate issues after practicing the tips above, you can go to your Resident Assistant for help. Many RAs are trained in conflict resolution and can provide mediation. If your roommate situation is completely intolerable, contact student housing. They can advise what options are available to you. If you end up moving to another room, be honest, yet tactful, with your roommates as to why.


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