Whether you’ve known your soon-to-be roommate for five months, five years or your entire life, becoming part of a new household is a major life change, and you’re probably asking yourself a lot of questions. How will we handle finances? What’s the best way to keep the kitchen clean? What if they’re the kind of monster that puts the toilet paper roll on the dispenser BACKWARD?!
It’s completely normal to feel a little bit of anxiety before moving in with a new roommate. That being said, there are 10 simple, clear-cut steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of conflict.
1. Figure out how bills are going to be paid from the get-go.
First things first: Decide who is responsible for submitting payment for rent, Internet, electricity and any other shared bills you might have. If the cable bill is in your roommate’s name and she pays it every month, pay your half to her using an app like Venmo or Splitwise.
2. Discuss what is communal and what isn’t.
There’s nothing worse to coming home at the end of a long day and finding out that your Nutella stash has been mysteriously exhausted. Unless you’re both open to freely sharing, designate one communal kitchen cabinet that houses olive oil, soy sauce, sugar and other items that are typically used in smaller quantities. Everything else can be off-limits unless you bought it.
3. Keep track of who buys shared supplies.
If your roommate bought dish soap, laundry detergent and window cleaner last time, it’s only fair that you pay for the next batch. To avoid confusion and disputes, create a shared spreadsheet that details the purchase history of household items.
4. Always clean up after yourself.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you decide to bake 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies on Sunday night, the kitchen shouldn’t be coated with flour when your roommate is making her Monday morning cup of coffee. If you have friends over for pizza and beer Thursday after work, take a few minutes to dispose of empty boxes and bottles right after they leave so when your roommate awakens on Friday, it’s like no one was even visiting.
5. Agree on quiet hours.
You might be a night owl, but that doesn’t mean your housemate is. If your roommate has a big presentation early tomorrow morning, use headphones during your 2 a.m. Call of Duty rampage as a courtesy.
6. Settle on a reasonable guest policy.
You should be able to have guests over as long as they’re respectful of your apartment home, your neighbors and your roommate. Still, it’s nice to give your roommate a heads up if company is coming. If you want to have more than a couple of friends over, definitely check with your roommate before making plans.
7. Invest in organizational tools.
Keep shared spaces tidy by purchasing some organizers. Put a divided tray in the entryway for everyone’s keys and mail, and stick some clear boxes in the refrigerator to keep snacks in line.
8. Don’t use your roommate’s stuff without asking.
Just don’t. Send a text. It takes 10 seconds.
9. Practice respectful communication.
If you have an issue with your roommate, don’t keep it bottled up. That’s the perfect recipe for resentment. Communicate with your roommate face to face in a composed, respectful way, and work toward a solution together. If you feel like you might be in danger of saying something hurtful, excuse yourself from the situation and come back to it later after you’ve had the chance to calm down. Don’t be passive aggressive and text or email about a problem — unless it’s the only chance you get to “chat” because of your conflicting schedules. Even still, it would be best to message and say “Can we chat about the cleanliness of the kitchen when you’re home next. Just knock on my bedroom door when you come home.”
10. Be considerate.
This is a big one. Be mindful of the consequences of your actions, and treat others how you want to be treated. When you’re the best roommate in the world, your roommates are likely to return the favor.
Happy sharing from all of us at Greystar!