Living alone certainly has its perks, but renting sometimes it’s just difficult to afford. Having a roommate often gets a bad reputation, but it can also make a nicer, more spacious place affordable if there are two (or more) people on the lease.
If you’ve renting with a roommate, here are 10 tips for harmonious cohabitation.
1. Set the ground rules
Whether you have known your roommate for your entire life or you’re just meeting each other, it’s important to set down some ground rules for your living arrangement at the very beginning. Everyone has different needs and wants from their home life, and it’s important that you respect each other’s desires as much as possible.
Some topics that you might want to cover include how you and your roommate feel about pets, and what level of cleanliness both of you prefer. You can’t be the perfect roommate all the time, but you can try to honor each other’s preferences.
2. Know his schedule and respect it
Discuss what kind of schedule you each keep. It could be the complete opposite of yours – say, if he’s in school or works at night and you are working a regular 9-to-5 job.
Try to be mindful of his sleep and work schedule when you want to bust out the guitar or watch a movie with surround sound. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells when you’re at home, but just be courteous as much as you can, and hopefully he will return the favor.
3. Know who will pay for what
The most potentially contentious part of living with someone else is figuring out who pays for what in rent, bills, and groceries. It’s important to establish these payments as soon as possible so that one person doesn’t get completely burdened and resentful.
Usually roommates will split the rent down the middle. But if there are three of you or you have the master bedroom, it may not be as simple as a 50/50 split.
Once you determine how much each person will pay, it’s important to establish how you will pay. Is your landlord expecting one check or auto-draft, or are multiple payments acceptable?
If it’s one payment for the unit, then establish who will pay the landlord. Also make sure that roommates are exchanging money in a timely manner so that one person doesn’t have a huge dip in his or her bank account.
When it comes to bills, either determine that they will all be in one person’s name and then split the bill, or have each roommate responsible for a different utility.
Also, be sure to set some ground rules on groceries. Will the food be communal, or will you each buy your snacks separately?
The earlier you establish the routines for everyday life, the happier the home.
4. Don’t use her things without asking
Even if you’re incredibly close and you have known each other for years, you should still give your roommate the courtesy of asking if you can borrow her hair dryer or clothes or laundry soap.
Assuming that whatever is hers is yours is a huge mistake when it comes to living with someone else. You might come from a family where sharing is just part of life, but this practice might be completely offensive to your roommate. It’s always best to ask – just in case.
5. Set a chore schedule
There’s nothing worse than a roommate who piles dirty dishes in the sink and watches someone else clean them.
To avoid being that roommate, establish a loose chore schedule to follow. Maybe it’s always your job to take out the garbage, and your roommate’s responsibility to empty the dishwasher.
Do whatever makes sense for both of you, and just generally be sure to clean up after yourself. It’ll make for a happier household in the long run.
6. Be courteous about company
It’s only natural that you should want to invite your friends over to hang out or watch a movie, but you should always check with your roommate first. This is even true if you share a lot of mutual friends.
You definitely want to avoid having your roommate come home to a house full of people when all she wants to do is curl up and read a book. If your roommate isn’t keen on you having people over that often, be sure to come to a compromise and promise that you’ll keep it down so that she’s not disturbed in her room.
7. Keep it down while he sleeps
This goes without saying, but be sure to be quiet while your roommate is sleeping. If you’re a night owl, but your roommate is an early riser, be mindful of his sleep schedule, and be respectful while having friends over or playing loud music or games.
Common courtesy is, once again, the name of the game when it comes to roommates.
8. Be friendly
You may be the perfect roommate on paper: You take out the trash, you do the dishes, you’re quiet when you need to be quiet. But being a really great roommate also involves having a good relationship with the person you share your home with.
When your roommate comes home and has had a bad day, offer to listen to his or her complaints and open up a bottle of wine. When you know she’s had a stressful week, offer to cook her dinner. Your home should be your safe space, and the person you live with should only contribute to that feeling.
9. Communicate if/when you’re coming home
When you live with someone, it’s always a good idea to check in with that person when you know you won’t be coming home, or if you’ll be coming home particularly late.
Not only is it good to be accountable, but if you were ever hurt or in danger, your roommate would know immediately that something wasn’t right and could notify your family if you were in any trouble.
10. Spend time together
Though you and your roommate aren’t technically family, you are a unit living together in one home. It’s important for the harmony of the household that you get along so you can open up the lines of communication if you ever have a conflict.
Suggest that you and your roommate have a scheduled time to watch Netflix together, or team up to make dinner one evening. Even though you may have separate lives and different interests, there’s nothing like bonding over binge-watching “Stranger Things” or old episodes of “Friends.”