Living with someone new can be really tough. Trust me, I’ve been there.
It’s scary to adjust to a new environment away from home and be around new people all the time - your new 'roomies' can initially feel like strangers. Rest assured, I have actually made some of my very best friends because we were roommates. Although, it's not always easy to navigate the 'roommate journey'. So, here are five lessons I've learned from personal experience about living with roommates:
1. Get to know them
I know this sounds silly, but it's not. Inevitably, you will spend significant time with your roommate(s), so it’s wise to get to them. Do you have common interests or similar hobbies and go from there? That's a great place to start! It's fundamental to have an understanding of each other in order to live together cohesively, even if you don't form a long-lasting "bestie" out of it.
2. Know & Respect Their Schedule
It may seem like a waste of your time to familiarize yourself with someone else’s schedule but it is really helpful to bridge your relationship with your roommate. Understanding your roommates’ schedule(s) helps to plan your own day (now you know when you’ll have the place to yourself to study or to relax) and ensure a harmonious atmosphere by showing respect for each other's space and time. For example, if you typically go to bed around 10 p.m. and your roommate is usually up until 3 a.m., you’ll likely have to compromise something or, better yet, with each other.
3. Find a study space that isn’t at home
Change of scenery can be your best friend. Spending time apart from your roommate(s) is healthy. Trying to stay productive in the same place for a long time (your dorm room or your bedroom in your student house) can be a struggle, so one thing I found helpful is finding a favourite place to study, either on or off campus, that you can use as a 'go-to' for when you need space. This also gives you the opportunity bring your best self back to your house/living space.
4. Set Boundaries
Keep in mind that everyone comes from a different home environment and may have different expectations about what living with a roommate will be like. To that effect, everyone has their own set of personal boundaries. Discussing whether you’re comfortable sharing things like food, appliances, toiletries, etc., sets you up for success and diverts potential miscommunication and misunderstanding.
I’ve been living with one of my roommates for the last four years so we are basically seasoned pro’s when it comes to living together. This fall, we welcomed a new roommate into our home so setting those boundaries and discussing what we were comfortable sharing and what we weren’t has proven to be really helpful.
5. Share responsibilities
Let me tell you - this is an important one. Making sure you’re on the same page about responsibilities can result in avoiding a lot of fighting and hostility. Keep in mind this is shared space, so it’s important to share the responsibilities of things like taking out the garbage, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathroom. Personally, having a chore chart has never been my thing, so it’s always been important to me to make sure I’m pulling my weight when it comes to household chores, and keeping our space clean and organized.
Whether you’ve been paired up with someone randomly or you already know the person you’re living with, living in a shared space with someone that isn’t your family is a new experience and takes some adjusting to. Be patient with yourself AND with your roommate(s) because you’re all going through the same thing.
If you end up being best friends, that’s great and I’m so excited for you! If not, don’t worry - I’m a firm believer that everything always works out for the best and happens for a reason.