Living situations are important parts of our lives. Whether you are older, younger, moving into a new place, opening up your home, used to roommates, or sharing space with someone for the first time, it’s important to be comfortable in your home space. Settling in with a new roommate can be an exciting time–full of opportunities to connect with someone new–but it can also bring about a sense of apprehension about the unknown. What if things don’t go as smoothly as planned? What if I need a night to myself? Could we eat dinner together sometimes?
Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to set you and your roommate up for success!
Setting expectations is a great way to lay a strong foundation for any roommate relationship. Make sure to sit down together and have an honest discussion about what you both need, want, and expect from your living arrangement. Think, “What would I like my roommate to know about me?” This conversation could include everything from the monthly home sharing expense amount, to the chores, to the temperature of the thermostat! Having this conversation up front will not only create guidelines for you and your roommate from day one, it will also open the door for future communication.
If you need a starting point for this discussion, we encourage you to use the Odd Couples Housing Roommate Agreement to get the conversation going! Having your agreed upon guidelines in writing is also a great way to remember what was mutually decided upon and hold each other accountable!
Communicate, Clearly and Often:
Effective communication can go a long way in a roommate relationship–or any relationship! Find ways to both listen and share with your roommate. One helpful tip is to address issues as they arise, instead of ignoring them and letting frustration build. Chances are, you both want the best for each other and will be willing to compromise to make things work, so don’t stew on things that are concerning you!
You and your roommate will have a lot of logistics to talk about as you start living together, but don’t forget to get to know each other, too! Consider asking your roommate about their day or something they previously mentioned–this will help you build rapport and keep lines of communication active and open. Also, you and your new roommate likely have a lot to teach each other!
Sure, it sounds obvious, but we all have a different understanding of what “considerate” means. If you and your roommate come from different backgrounds, your interpretations or expectations may differ. Does cleaning the kitchen mean cleaning up your mess, or leaving it cleaner than you found it? Is 9pm too late to run a load of laundry? Does “having a few people over” mean 2 or 6? Don’t be afraid to talk about these things or consider different perspectives! This is where open communication and an open mind can be extra helpful!
Decide what to Share:
As roommates, we share our home and a part of lives, by the sheer nature of living together. But where do you draw those lines? Are you willing to share that pint of ice cream in the fridge? Or the musical instrument in the living room? And conversely, is your roommate comfortable with you using their laundry detergent or borrowing a book? Remember to ask your roommate before borrowing or using their items, even if it seems small. This shows you respect their space and privacy.
Remember to talk about shared items (e.g. food, parking spots, toiletries). Establish which kitchen items can be used by all and who is in charge of buying soap and toilet paper! Most of the questions we are asked by new matches are centered around food. It is up to you and your roommate if you are going to share all, none, or some of the food. Make it clear whose shelf is whose, and if you have certain shared items (olive oil, spices, etc.), discuss who will make the next purchase when you run out.