By Monica Heisey
Whether you’ve been randomly matched in residence or you’ve chosen to live with your besties, having roommates is a total gamble. Here are some tips from someone who’s been there on happy co-habitation.
Feel out each others’ living styles
I have always considered myself a messy person. Not dirty, but messy. Living with five other girls challenged my definition of the word ‘messy’ like a first year women’s studies class challenges social assumptions. Make sure you and your roomies are interested in doing the same level of house upkeep. The ‘I plan on doing my dishes more than once every month, what are your thoughts on this’ chat applies to partying/studying ratios as well.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T each other’s personal space
One of the great things about having roommates, especially of the lady persuasion, is the boundless collective wardrobe, make up/hair product collection, and study notes available as soon as you walk in the door. The rub is that someone always gets drunk on the idea of 100+ shoes at her fingertips and makes off with your platforms in the night. If they’re not around, a quick ‘would it be cool if I borrowed your black stilettos?’ text should suffice. Note: this approach does not work with alcohol, desserts, or boyfriends.
Apologize if you mess up
Break someone’s hair straightener? Have a crazy-loud one night stand the night before someone’s big exam? Just own up to it, say you’re sorry, and make amends as necessary. It will be someone else’s turn to screw up soon.
Like any relationship, being functional and happy housemates takes work sometimes. One year, on the last day of exams, a roommate brought home miniature cupcakes and a giant bottle of champagne—the semester’s minor squabbles over utilities and late night noise melted away in sugary dance-party-induced bliss. Cooking a nice dinner together also works.
Be a jerk about money
Sticking the most responsible one on the internet/cable and utilities bill may seem like the best choice, but, having never been the responsible one, I feel like it’s probably a pretty big burn to them. A joint bank account into which everyone puts an equal amount is a stress-free way to get bills in on time every month. It’s all about the automatic withdrawal, babay! (That sounds like a sex thing, but I am just trying to get real about finances over here.)
Add another roommate without telling anyone
It’s wonderful that you and your boyfriend/girlfriend are sooooo in loooooove and you want to spend evvvvveryyyyy mommmmennnnt together because you donnnn’t wannna missssss a thiiiiiing. Wonderful to you. Make sure you’re not getting all lovey-dovey in the living room, that your significant other is on good terms with your housemates, and that you guys try to alternate whose roommates you’re bothering if you’re really really always together.
Forget that you live with others
I like to be in a state of almost-total nudity at home. This had to end, it creeped out my roommates. Another roommate used to leave bowls of congealed sauces around the house, then start treating them like garbage cans, leaving crumpled receipts, clip-in hair extensions, and, once, a used pad in them. This had to end, it was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. You’re not living alone, so sacrifices have to be made sometimes to make sure everyone is living in a space they feel comfortable in.
Start dating a completely insane, manipulative, terrible, potential serial killer man and then GIVE HIM KEYS TO OUR HOUSE WITHOUT TELLING US
This one might be a bit specific, but I still live in fear, so…
While there are some true horror stories out there, living with friends (or strangers) can be some of the most fun you’ll have at university. I am a year away from legal common law status with two of my best friends from high school, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.