As temperatures cool and the colors of leaves begin to change, college students cram their belongings into trunks and backseats and prepare to schlep everything they own across cities, states, and countries and settle into their dorm sweet dorm.
Similarly, while they might not be preparing for semesters of classes and extra-curricular activities, recent grads and young professionals often encounter seasons of change throughout the autumn months, too. The weather and the landscape depict the end of another year, but new leases, roommates, and organizational responsibilities signify the beginning.
Living with a roommate can almost always be expected for at least a short time while in college, but it can also be a great tactic for saving money and maintaining a social life after graduation. With all of the new responsibilities that accompany the autumn months, it might be easy to neglect your roommate relationship.
Having a roommate, however, can be a rewarding and pleasant experience and could even lead to a life-long friendship. Here are a few tips to ensure that sharing living quarters is enjoyable for everyone involved.
Communication is the key to any healthy relationship. You and your roommate will have different needs and expectations. You’ll have different routines, different preferences, and perhaps different ideas about what your roommate relationship might look like. What is a comfortable apartment temperature? Are you a night owl or an early riser? Are you extra-sensitive to certain smells? While these may seem like minor differences, don’t assume they will sort themselves out. Talk through your expectations as soon as possible.
Solve Small Problems
If any of your differences begin to cause problems, be sure to find a solution while the issue is still a small one. Address a frustration as soon as you notice it. Leaving it alone can cause emotions to build up and make for a more difficult conversation down the road. It’s also easier to make an adjustment early on in a relationship. Solve a problem before the behavior becomes habit. Your roommate might not even be aware there’s a problem.
Respect Each Other
Your roommate’s stuff is your roommate’s stuff. Ask before you borrow something. While his or her leftovers look delicious, they’re not yours to eat without permission. Keeping your space clean is a great way to show respect, and showing respect is a great way to earn respect. Clean up after yourself. Take care of your dishes after every meal. If you’re sharing chores, do what you say you’re going to do. Pay your portion of the rent or bills on time without having to be asked.
Leaving your space unlocked when you’re out is not only unwise, it’s also disrespectful. Having your belongings stolen would be difficult enough, but imagine having to explain to your roommate that his or her laptop was stolen because you didn’t lock the door behind you when you ran to the grocery store.
Keep an Open Mind
If you have different expectations about living arrangements, you more than likely also have different ideologies and perspectives. Just treat your roommate like you’d want to be treated. Just because you’re roommates doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. Be friendly, but don’t force friendship. Feel free to have your own life and social circle.