These three ideas should define apartment living, but all too often, the dynamic between roommates can change after the honeymoon stage of a live-in friendship has worn off. Cohabitation isn’t the easiest thing to master, but we have a few suggestions to keep in mind as you navigate the ups and downs of sharing your space with others.
The most important aspect of a relationship with your roomies is communication. A lack of good, clear communication is the root of many heated debates and can cause extreme tension between cohabiters.
It might seem silly, but being upfront about your expectations is crucial before moving in with someone. To make sure everyone remains on the same page, we recommend reviewing these expectations within the first week of living in your new home. Setting ground rules makes it much easier to have a mutual understanding of your shared space, and exceptions to these rules can always be discussed on a case-by-case basis when unique circumstances arise.
Conflict can occur, even between the most amicable of roommates. If a roomie does something that irks you, it’s important to address the issue right away so resentment doesn’t build over time. Although it’s important to be open and honest, we recommend doing so with a conversation rather than a confrontation. Whether it’s asking your roommates to check with you before throwing a party on a Tuesday night or having a conversation about which food items you are and aren’t willing to share, your roommates are much more likely to understand your point of view if you talk with them respectfully. Along the same lines, be open to a little constructive criticism from your cohabiters and be and willing to compromise or make some changes in your behavior.
The following are little tricks you and your roommates can implement to maintain positive communication in your household:
- Create a chore chart so each person can clearly see what needs to be done.
- Assign permanent duties for each person. (e.g. you will always clean this and your roommate will always clean ) This system will ensure that responsibilities are clear and easy to remember.
- Set clear expectations for when regular cleaning should occur.
- Clean up after yourself.
- Talk about schedules and come up with a routine so your roommate isn’t late to work because he or she has to wait for you to finish your 30 minute shower in the morning.
- Make sure each person has a designated shelf/drawer/etc. so finding your own toiletries is easy.
- Have a caddy or bin that you can easily access so you can take part of your morning routine into your bedroom as needed.
- Be courteous of your roommates’ privacy, and understand that their hygiene routines may be different from yours.
- Decide if you and your roomies will buy food together and share it or if you’d prefer to keep your groceries separate. Either option can work well (as long as all parties are on the same page).
- Talk about doing dishes, sharing appliances, filling water pitchers, re-stocking ice cube trays, and other shared responsibilities.
- If you are sharing and splitting bills, make a calendar that denotes when bills are due.
- Stick to payment deadlines.
- Have a white board on your fridge where you can clearly write out/divide the bills so each person knows exactly how much he or she owes and why.
Shared Space– Parallel play
- You don’t have to hide out in your own bedroom to do something that you want to do alone, and it’s important to feel comfortable near your roommates without feeling the need to partake in their every activity. A great way to hang out together while still taking some time for yourself is called parallel play. Realize that it is completely okay to be in the same room with your roommates while doing different things. Parallel play can even be a bonding experience of sorts.
If you and your roomies utilize some of these tips this year, we’re confident that your living experience will be a great one!