By Melisa Figueroa
They say that roommates are the luck of the draw even with people you know. Some situations are picture-perfect, while others are less than desirable. There are some that start out great but turn sour, and others that start out rocky but turn into lifelong friendships. The key to success is keeping a balance of fairness and friendship to ensure that your apartment will stay a peaceful and positive place for all.
Living with people who aren’t your family can be eye opening. You realize that you were all raised in different ways in different homes with different backgrounds and beliefs. Whether you and your roommates are best friends, strangers, or anywhere in between, living with others means that mutual respect and understanding for everyone living in the apartment must exist.
It’s important to start off with establishing ground rules. All roommates should be involved in a conversation about situations that people living together inevitably face. Everyone pays the rent (hopefully), so each roommate should be in the loop about all matters pertaining to the apartment. Here are some examples of ground rules to consider:
- Household duties. No one actually enjoys taking out the trash or washing dishes, especially if that person didn’t make the mess. A way to tackle the issue is to implement a system where everyone has cleanup duty once a week. Or you can have everyone agree to just pick up and clean up after himself. A third choice is to do a little bit of both. You can agree, for example, that you should clean your own dirty dishes right away, but all of the roommates will rotate with vacuuming, taking out the trash and other chores.
- Borrowing. When you live together, it makes sense that at some point your roommate will have something you’d like to use and vice versa. Be sure to make it known that asking permission is necessary. You don’t want to walk in one day to your roommate lounging in the sweater you had planned to wear. The same goes for food. There’s no real way to “borrow” food, since it’s literally gone once you eat it, so talk to your roommates about where you stand. Don’t want to share food? Fine. Okay with sharing food but want it to be replaced after? Also fine. Just make sure that your roommates know how you feel.
- Boundaries. If you don’t want your roommates in your room when you’re not home or using your shampoo, then tell them that. You can also talk about boundaries for visitors. If your roommates always have 100 of their closest friends over at all times of the night, let them know that you need to go to bed or study at some point. There’s a difference between dictating what goes on at your apartment and just needing to sleep at 2 a.m.
- Draw up a Roommate Charter. Chances are you signed a lease and committed to living with your roommates for longer than 6 months. The week of move-in, pick up a bottle of champagne, celebrate your new roommates, and sit down together to create some House Rules. Put key agreements in writing and save the document for later. Or, even better, make the document pretty, print it out, and use a magnet to put it on the fridge. This way, if there are any disagreements you can sit down with your roommates and have the House Rules to back you up.
- Communication. If you keep communication open and honest with your roommates then you should not have any problems. If there is something you know might be an issue in the future, talk about it now rather than waiting until it happens. If you can communicate with your roommates, while respecting each other, you should be in for a very fun experience.
About the writer:
A recent Public Relations graduate from the University of Florida, Melisa Figueroa works with Swamp Rentals to help students find apartments in Gainesville, Florida that meet their lifestyle and budget.