Want to Be a Good College Roommate? Do These 11 Things
Whether you're preparing to share a dorm room or an off-campus apartment, living with someone new (or even someone you know well but have never lived with before) can be an anxiety-inducing experience. While TV shows like New Girl, Friends, and Three's Company make living with roommates look super fun and easy, all relationships take a certain amount of time, care, and hard work. But take heart: there's plenty of simple, everyday things you can do if you want to be a good college roommate. From always cleaning up after yourself to using your headphones liberally to never eating your roommate's snacks, here are 11 easy tips that will make living together an awesome experience.
Discuss Your Daily Routines and Lifestyle Preferences Upfront
Having a frank discussion with your roommate about each of your daily routines and lifestyle preferences should help set both of you up for a happier home life. If you have early morning classes and want to establish specific quiet times in your apartment or dorm room, you should feel confident clearly communicating those needs to your roommate. And you should encourage them to communicate their needs to you as well.
Always Clean Up After Yourself
Ideally, you and your roommate will share the burden of heavy duty chores, like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming your apartment or dorm room's common spaces, and dusting the furniture. But always cleaning up after yourself is basically How to Be a Good Roommate 101; so clean your dishes sooner rather than later, take the trash out regularly, and don't leave your clothes and books strewn all over the common spaces.
Use Your Headphones Often
One of the most frustrating things I've dealt with as a roommate is noise pollution, and despite what the majority of college-themed movies would have you believe, dedicated college students need plenty of peace and quiet to study and catch up on sleep. So unless you and your roommate are on a break from school or hosting a party, it's always a good idea to use your headphones more often than not.
Give Your Roommate a Heads Up When You Invite Company Over
You and your roommate should take some time early on in your living relationship to discuss any boundaries you may have when it comes to company. But even after you've done that, you should still be sure to give them a heads up every time you invite someone over to your dorm room or apartment. And you should feel free to ask them to do the same for you.
Giving a heads up isn't the same thing as asking for permission, it's just a thoughtful gesture that will make both of you feel safer and more respected in your home. Plus, it's just good planning. If your cousin is coming to visit for the weekend and your roommate has a term paper due on Monday morning, for example, then communicating your plans to each other could save both of you a lot of stress.
Don't Eat Your Roommate's Snacks Without Permission
This should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: never eat your roommate's snacks without their permission — even if it's something seemingly small, like a granola bar or a box of mac and cheese. Finances can get particularly tight in college, and busy students don't have a ton of spare time to go grocery shopping.
Turn Off Lights When You're Not Using Them
This tip applies more to college roommates who share an off-campus apartment than those who share a dorm room, but conserving energy is a good habit to develop regardless. Turn off all the lamps and lights in your apartment or dorm room when you're not using them, and switch to LED lights if you can. You'll be cutting utility costs and helping the planet simultaneously, and your roommate should appreciate that.
Avoid Passive Aggressive Behaviors and Learn How to Deal With Them
If you're not used to expressing your emotions or communicating your needs, you may be tempted to behave passive-aggressively the first time your roommate leaves their dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. But there's nothing wrong with honestly and respectfully speaking your mind and asking for what you need to feel comfortable in your home. And if your roommate starts exhibiting passive-aggressive behaviors — like claiming to be "totally fine" and then sulking for days — you should feel free to bring up their behavior in a kind and respectful way. Talking it out is always best.
It may sound simple, but listening can be tough — especially if you deal with any sort of social anxiety issues. Still, one of the most important things we can do to keep any of our relationships healthy is to make a genuine effort to listen. So while it's healthy and completely okay to check out and be introverted when you need to, it's also important to listen to your roommate when they need to talk to you about something, whether it's something roommate specific or they just need to vent and want your advice.
Don't Use Your Roommate's Health and Beauty Products Without Permission
Unless you've both agreed to share your health and beauty products, you shouldn't be using your roommate's stuff. Self-care routines are vital to managing stress, and college is plenty stressful. On top of that, even drugstore beauty and wellness products can be a splurge when you're living on a student's wages, so every little bit of product really does count.
Treat Their Guests With Kindness and Respect
To be clear: you shouldn't feel obligated to put up with anyone pushing your boundaries. But when your roommate invites guests over, you should try to treat them with kindness and respect — even if you don't like them. You don't have to be buddies with your roommate's buddies, but getting along with people is part of life. And if you want your roommate to treat your guests with kindness and respect, you should do the same for them.
Always Pay Your Share
Whether you're splitting the rent of an off-campus apartment or the cost of pizza delivery to your dorm room, you should always pay your share of everything — and you should do it promptly, without being asked. Venmo is a quick and easy way to pay for your share of things, so if you haven't already downloaded the app, now is the time.