Schools Training

Student Guide to Living with a Roommate

20 NOV 2013

Living with a roommate for the first time is a rite of passage for a large majority of students. Whether you live with a roommate in the student dorms or in your own apartment off-campus, living with a roommate can potentially be minefield if you don’t take the time to communicate and outline expectations before jumping into the living arrangement head first. Though you sometimes have to guess at what to expect when you live with a roommate for the first time, we’ve outlined a list of 4 major areas to consider and to talk about before you sign the lease on your dream apartment.

1. Lifestyle

Do you like to wake up early in the morning and read the newspaper or are you more likely to stay up until the middle of the night studying? Is hanging out in your room alone with a book your idea of fun, or are you a social butterfly who prefers chatting up a storm? These are just a few of the questions you should be considering before you move in with someone. The main point is to discuss how you like to live so that there aren’t any surprises later on, and be honest. You don’t have to be exactly identical to live together, but you should have a general idea of how your roommate lives before you move in with them.

2. Finances

This is an area that can potentially be tricky and it’s very important to outline who will take care of which area of the budget ahead of time. For example, if one roommate is the one that is in charge of giving the rental cheques to the landlord, then the other should be responsible for the utilities. There shouldn’t be one person that takes care of all of the finances in the household, as anyone who lives in the household is a responsible adult who should be able to contribute. Use education news or educational articles to help you with creating a budget if necessary.

3. Food

Will you go grocery shopping together and divide the bill? Or will each buy their own groceries and share items that you don’t need duplicates of such as butter or milk and even toiletries that you share, such as toilet paper. This category should also include creating a list of items that have run out and need to be stocked up on or something that you have borrowed and needs to replace. And with help deciding on which is the best grocery store to shop at, use your school directory for listings to decide on the best grocery store for your needs.

4. Cleaning

This area tends to be the cause of the most friction between roommates. If one person is neat and the other is messy, then this is generally a recipe for disaster. However the best way to get around this issue is to create a cleaning chart and actually stick to it. A chore chart is a great way to divide labor in a household without letting resentments (or messes!) build up.

Use these areas as a guideline and it will make living with a roommate a fun experience that you’ll look back on and smile, rather than a horror story that you share with a shudder. There’s no such thing as bad roommates, just miscommunications and misunderstandings. Talk to your roommate about problems as they arise and minor issues won’t blow up to become intolerable.