Living with a Roomie 101

September 10, 2019
college survival tips

One of the biggest stressors in college can be roommate relations. It’s often the case for freshmen, nervous about living so close with someone (in the dorms), but also seniors in multi-bedroom apartments. Obviously, it would be great if everyone clicked instantly, became BFFs and never had an issue. Even the best of friends can face challenges living together in a small space. Try using these college survival tips so you and your roomie(s) can live in a blissful co-existence.

The Roommate Contract is Your Best Friend

If you live on campus, most likely at the beginning of the year, your RA gave you and your roommate(s) a contract or agreement. This simple document outlines everyone’s expectations and offers the perfect way to set boundaries. In the dorm, you sign the document and give it back to the RA to keep on file in case there are future disagreements that you need guidance on. Even if you live off-campus, still consider using one. Here’s a sample version you can download, or just use as inspo to create your own. 

Granted, these aren’t legal documents, but putting things down on paper can set expectations and make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Get to Know Them

If you haven’t already, take the time to get to know your roommate. Learn what they like and dislike. This easy step can go a long way toward peacefully coexisting. If you know that they can’t stand the smell of coffee or one of their pet peeves is clothes on the floor, you can do your part to keep the peace in those areas. Likewise, if you know lavender tea is their fave, maybe grab a cup and surprise them one night when they’re stressed. Little details and gestures like these show that you care and set the foundation for a successful relationship.

Trust is Crucial

This sounds simple, but it’s important—trusting each other is a critical part of successful coexistence. Whatever you do, don’t violate your roommate’s trust. This means always respecting their privacy and not going through any of their belongings when they’re not around. Even if you want to borrow something, don’t just take it, shoot them a text and ask. One of the most critical components of feeling comfortable in your shared space is knowing you’re safe and that you can trust your roommate.

Find a Few Study Spaces

Find a few different study spaces outside of your dorm or apartment. (Hint hint: check out our beginner’s guide to studying for more resources on this). Pick two or three spots that you love and try to mix it up with where you study and do work.

You might not realize, but spending time apart and getting out can reduce unnecessary tension between you and your roommate. For example, if you’re trying to study and your roommate is in and out between classes or getting ready to go out, it can be disruptive and breed resentment. Take this potential problem off the table by alternating study spaces instead. Plus, this gives your roommate some time to themselves and gets you out-and-about on campus! 

Set a Policy for Visitors

Visitors are where the most heated roommate arguments occur. Whether it’s bringing friends back to your room to hang out or being “sexiled,” these instances can easily cross into unhealthy and unacceptable living arrangements. Sit down with your roommate and make an agreement on who can be in the room and how often. This is useful information to include in the roommate contract, too.

Practice College Survival Tips for a Peaceful Roommate Experience 

Set yourself up for success with a roommate contract, be open to communication along the way (remember passive-aggression gets you nowhere), but ultimately be kind and patient. If you use these college survival tips (and share them with your roomies), you’ll be prepared to face any potential issues.

Living with another person always has its challenges, but if you respect each other’s space and privacy, you’ll likely have a healthy and happy roomie relationship.