How To Be A Good Roommate, Tips From A Bad One

Since moving into the downtown I have lived with six collections of humans and approximately four kittens/future cats. Depending on who I share a roof with I have either been a positive contributor to the household or, I am ashamed to say, a negative contributor. I have been a clean roommate. I have been a “forgetting that dishes need to enter the dishwasher as opposed to simply be placed near it” roommate. I have been a quiet roommate. I have been a “simulating a Backstreet Boys concert in my bedroom at 4 am on a Tuesday” roommate. I have been a fun roommate. I have been a “loudly complain about every sad emotion I feel as I feel them to my roommate who is on a date” roommate. But I have always been an unreliable roommate—in a charming way though, like I “didn’t pay our Rogers bill for four months” kind of charming.

Living with non-relatives is a funny, funny, passive-aggressive thing. It’s awkward having to ask someone who isn’t your sibling to pick up their multiple pairs of period underwear sitting on the bathroom floor. In my case it’s awkward being asked to do that… every month. We are all different and live by different standards but I can confidently say that the below list of roommate dos and don’ts are quite universal. I have been informed of these dos and don’ts via numerous house meetings, otherwise known as “meetings to explain to Jess how toilet paper has to be purchased at a store in order to arrive on her butt.”

DO: Completely remove all of your food from plates you use for food.
I have to remind myself that casually rinsing a bowl coated in baked beans usually results in the bowl remaining firmly coated. Those beans have to be removed using a sponge and/or my tongue/teeth/throwing the plate in the garbage. Same goes for pots, pans, and wine glasses coated in beans. Do I drink beans out of wine glasses? Am I a class act? Yes and yes.

DON’T: Treat your roommate’s closet/fridge shelf like a clothing/food swap.
Especially if it involves less swapping and more stealing. If you find yourself saying “I see there is a sweater/lasagna sitting here. Seems like it’s up for grabs considering it’s in my roommate’s drawer/clearly labeled with their name. Maybe I’ll wear it/eat all of it until its rightful owner claims it from my torso/stomach” then you’re not a great roommate and should limit your use of slashes in everyday speak. I have been told that friends borrow fabric and fruit with permission. Friends do not borrow forever and then lie when asked if they have seen a missing winter coat/wheel of brie cheese which they are wearing/currently swallowing.

DON’T: Take 5 hour long showers.
Man, do I enjoy hot water endlessly pouring over my body. When I watched that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer decides to live in his shower I made a plan for how this could be my reality. I could work from home, get a waterproof computer, install a mini fridge in there and learn to sleep standing up, I thought. It didn’t pan out and I am slowly kicking this annoying addiction of mine. I have cut down my shower time to under an… two hours. Let’s just say my current roommates are darn lucky we don’t have a bath (sitting in a tub = falling asleep immediately).

DO: Buy cleaning products and use said cleaning products to clean.
“Hey, I bought some windex” “Oh, great. Want to give the mirror in the bathroom a wipe down?” “Sorry?” “Do you want to use the windex you bought?” “Sorry, what?” “Is your hearing okay?” “Yes, I just don’t understand this theory of yours.” “The theory of… cleaning?” “Yes, I’m totally perplexed.” “Okay, well, you… should… clean… stuff.” “You lost me.” is a dialogue that I have frequently with my flatmates which I should not.

DON’T: Break shit, and if you break shit do fix/replace broken shit after breaking it.
If you have any questions regarding this you have recently broken shit and are trying to get out of fixing/replacing it. That glass vase cannot be repaired using a glue gun. Go get another one, and by get another one I don’t mean find an empty beer bottle on the street and put a note on it that reads “This is a vase.”

DON’T: Have purposely blaring intercourse
We get it. You’re good in bed. Congrats. I know this probably reads as sarcastic, but it’s not. I’m actually quite impressed by your excellent moaning, relentless headboard banging, and unending taking of the lord’s name in vain. But out of respect for your roomies, maybe cease and desist the sexy horror movie screaming? Especially if you share a wall or several walls? I have been guilty of noisy lovin’ in the past but these days I tell the penises I’m hanging with to keep the volume down low. I do not need to brag about my boinking skills by being loud ‘cause I can just brag about it on the internet. BTW MY NAKED HIPS ARE GOOD AT MANEUVERING IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER NAKED HIPS.

DON’T: Have purposely blaring masturbation sessions
We get it. You’re good at using your vibrator/grabbing hold of your wiener. Congrats. Question: why does your headboard still bang against the wall while you’re just masturbating? Is what my roommates have asked me. Now when I get busy with my bad self, I keep it hush hush and try to call out my own name as little as possible.

DO: Give your roomies some privacy
Don’t crawl into their bed while they’re sleeping and spoon them (this tends to result in them thinking they’re being murdered). They deserve to have their own space and you should respect their occupying of that space. Don’t kick down their bedroom door without permission and commandeer their attention because you are going through a crisis. FYI I am the commandeerer in this scenario and the crisis is that I think all of my friends hate me for no valid reason.

DO: Talk to the people you are sitting beside
When in the living room with other warm bodies respond to their questions of “How’s it going?” as opposed to ignoring them and hiding behind tall plants. Socialize, chat, be polite! I spend a lot of time in my boudoir and have to force myself to exit the confines of my bed occasionally, unless I am experiencing an above mentioned crisis in which case WATCH OUT anyone in my surrounding area.

DO: Pay your rent.
On time. Every month. In the full amount. IOU notes are not acceptable. A really great hug will not cover the cost. Also, trying to barter usually aggravates your landlord, especially when you’re bartering stuff they already own, like the toilet.

DO: Be there for your roommates when they need you
Living with someone means you witness them in states that many others do not. Sometimes those states include sadness, or depression, or general pissed off-ness. Whatever the state they’re in they might need a nice, friendly ear to listen to their problems. You may not have a close relationship with your roomies but that doesn’t mean if you hear them sobbing hysterically outside your bedroom door you can’t ask them what’s up (PLEASE ASK ME WHAT’S UP WHEN THIS HAPPENS/IT WILL HAPPEN).

If I can do it, you can do it. And I can (kind of) do it!


  1. Candace Meeks
    August 11, 2014

    I live alone, because I’m so terrible at living with people.

  2. guest
    August 24, 2014

    LOL – it is better to buy toilet paper than to not have any!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. February 16, 2016

    1st step with roommates: get a Hand Bidet Sprayer. With these you don’t really need Toilet Paper anymore so you’ll save allot of money, no fighting over who used the last of it and you’ll never run out. Oh and you’ll all be cleaner too! See

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