How to be a Good Roommate

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

I'm back with another college post that I hope will be helpful for all of y'all who are heading off to college this fall: how to be a good roommate. Having a roommate is a pretty quintessential college experience but it's an important relationship to build as you will be sharing a tiny sized room with that person.

Whether you're friends with your roommate already or met on Facebook over the summer, I'm sharing some tips I've learned over my past two years of having a roommate to help your relationship go smoothly and make your time as roommates more enjoyable!

My roommate Rachel and I! So excited for another year of living together

clean up after yourself

Dorms are (as you may expect) pretty small and tend to get messy fast as there isn't a whole lot of space. Some weeks in college are pretty crazy and I know my room is always busier on those weeks but try to keep things clean as it's respectful to your roommate to not have the room be a disaster. Whether you're doing laundry or have dirty dishes, try to keep your stuff contained and put it away as quickly as possible.

Also, it's important to talk about how to split up cleaning for your space. I found each person cleaning their side works pretty well but talk about who is in charge of cleaning the common spaces whether you alternate weeks or maybe you clean the sink while your roommate always vacuum the rug or something like that.

include your roommates in your plans

If you're heading to the dining hall, library, or to run errands by yourself or with other friends, text your roommate and see if she wants to tag along! This will help y'all become closer and also allow both of you to meet new people. Just because you are roommates does not mean you have to do everything together but including your roommate in your plans will make her feel welcomed and build a positive relationship between the two of y'all.

be respectful of each other's space

Dorms are usually small enough that even though you may each have your own "side" of the room, it isn't a whole lot of space. Try to keep your stuff on your side of the room and not take up the majority of the space. It can be annoying to come home to find your roommate's stuff all over the room and keeping it clean goes a long way (or if it is a mess, let her know as a "hey! I'm cleaning my closet right now and the room is a mess but I will clean it up after my last class" is a lot courteous than letting her just discover the mess!

This also goes for shared items or shared spaces. If you get coffee all over the Keurig, clean it up. Don't make the "home" for something that is just yours be on a shared space. Be respectful of the fact that you aren't the only person who lives here!

it's ok not to be best friends

I feel like it's pretty common to want and to expect to be best friends with your roommate. I honestly was not best friends with my freshman year roommate and it is totally ok. It can be hard sharing a tiny shoebox with another person that you met on Facebook or one time before at orientation and even if you got along before being roommates, sharing a room may change your relationship. Yes, if you turn out to best friends with your roommate, that is amazing and makes living in the dorms so much more fun (my roommate Rachel and I are super close and it's so fun living together) but I want y'all to know that it's ok if your relationship isn't like that!

respect each other's sleep schedules

Odds are that you and your roommate won't have identical schedules. You may be studying late while she wants to go to bed early before her 8 AM. Try to keep quiet and keep as little light on as possible so she can sleep and maybe head to the dorm lounge or the library to get your work done. Or maybe you have an 8 AM while she can sleep in. Turn off your alarm quickly and try to get ready quietly. I know I can get grumpy when I don't get enough sleep and being mindful of each other's sleep schedules is important for keeping the peace.

set expectations

Setting expectations is so important so you both are on the same page. At the start of the year, plan a time to chat about these things (your RA may set up a meeting too). Talk about what you want to share in the room (will you share groceries or only eat what you buy?), your policy on guests (how often do you want people over, is it ok to have overnight guests, is it ok to have boys over, etc.), responsibilities with cleaning, your schedules, your thoughts on different things (is it ok for your roommate to drink in your room?), or even what temperature you want to set the thermostat on. It may be a bit awkward to talk about these different things but it will help if you have any conflict later on in the year.

give her alone time in the room

As much as it is your room, it is also her's. In college, you're around people pretty much all the time so it's nice to have time by yourself every once in a while. If you know your roommate's schedule, it's pretty easy to know when she will or won't be in the room. I would typically count on having alone time when my roommate was in class or would go study somewhere else so she could have some alone time too.

This also goes for having friends over as if she has her friends over, it is fun to all hang out together but definitely allow her to do her own thing too!

ask before borrowing

Even if you agree to share everything in the room, it is definitely nice to ask your roommate to borrow something rather than just taking it. Of course, borrowing a pencil is different than borrowing your roommate's favorite pair of shoes but it definitely avoids awkward situations to ask rather than have to admit you spilled coffee all over her top that she didn't know you borrowed.

communicate, communicate, communicate

When living with a roommate, it is so important to be on the same page about things. If something isn't going well, be sure to talk about it before the situation gets out of hand. Keeping each other updating on little things is important to like if you will be out of town one weekend or if you plan on having a friend sleepover. If you aren't feeling great and want to go to bed early, let your roommate know so she isn't annoyed if she comes home at 9 PM to you sound asleep.

be intentional

Little things go along ways and definitely help in creating a positive relationship with your roommate. If you remember that she has a big presentation coming up, text her before that class to wish her luck. When it's her birthday and she is feeling a bit homesick as she's not at home to celebrate, make the day special by buying her a cupcake and decorating your door. Even a short hand-written note saying thank you along with a shirt you borrowed goes a long ways!

What advice do you have for living with a roommate? Let me know in the comments!

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