Living with roommates has many benefits — you can split the cost of living, share chores and become close friends. However, moving in with new roommates is always a transition. Learning how to adapt will improve the experience for everyone. Follow these five simple tips for getting along with roommates to get acclimated successfully.
If you're wondering how to comfortably live with roommates, the first step is to establish clear boundaries. Reflect on your needs and schedule an in-depth conversation with your new roommates. Be specific — define terms like "late at night," "early in the morning," "noisy" and "large groups" using exact numbers, as you may have different understandings of these concepts. Discuss your preferences regarding all the following areas:
Open communication is important in any interpersonal relationship. Be honest and upfront with each other — passive aggressiveness and gossiping tend to create more problems than they solve. If you're having trouble talking with your roommate, try following these helpful communication tips. It may be a good idea to plan regular meetings with each other, during which everyone has time to speak. This is most important early on before any resentment or irritation has time to form. You might want to write up a complete contract, collaborating with your roommates.
When you communicate, always be considerate and respectful. Avoid sarcasm, non-constructive criticism, or raising your voice. Try to approach the situation with empathy, imagining things from each other's point of view. Keep your emotions in check and practice engaged listening. If you and your roommate have trouble agreeing on any issues, decide how to compromise. Come up with concrete solutions for these obstacles rather than letting issues fester.
You already have something in common with your roommate — you can bond over the experience of living in a new place together. Make time to explore the area with each other. When the weather is nice, explore outdoor destinations like parks, zoos, and beaches. Most outdoor destinations are free or inexpensive, so they make a great budget-friendly way to spend a day. Check out local bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, as well.
You can also bond over specific activities together. Talk about the things you like to do and try to find some common ground. Maybe you both enjoy playing volleyball, doing arts and crafts, or wine tasting. If you want to build a strong relationship with your roommate, plan activities together from time to time. The more time you spend doing fun things together, the less you'll feel like strangers. Quality time can foster a more amicable relationship.
One of the most important tips for living with roommates is to know each other's schedules. Share your schedules with each other — including when you need to go to bed, when you need to wake up and when you need quiet time. If this changes from week to week, keep each other updated. You might want to use a dry-erase calendar or a schedule-sharing app.
Providing your schedules will make it easier to respect each other. If your roommate has an exam on Wednesday morning, you'll know not to invite a rowdy crowd of friends over on Tuesday evening. You'll also know when it's okay to reach out to each other, so you can avoid calling your roommate when they're in an important meeting. What's more, this can help you stay safe. Knowing when to expect each other's home can help you determine if there's cause for concern.
As much as you want to bond with your roommates, make sure you carve out some alone time, as well. Spending too much time with someone can cause you to butt heads. Give yourself some personal space. If you share a bedroom, that might mean going out to a coffee shop or park on your own from time to time. It could also mean popping in some earphones and creating a sense of separation. If you do share a room, you can come up with clever ways to separate your space. You might want to hang curtains or tapestries to create clear divisions and privacy.
Be sure to respect your roommate's needs for alone time. This circles back to communication — talk about how often you each need personal space and what that entails. It can be easy to feel offended if you're an extrovert with an introverted roommate. Keep in mind that everyone's social battery is different and that respecting personal space will foster a healthier relationship in the long term.
Though moving in with a new roommate can be a challenging adjustment, it can also be rewarding and even life-changing. Your roommate might become a lifelong close friend, and your learning experiences will teach you valuable lessons. Try these tips for how to get along with roommates to make the process easier. Be proactive — open up lines of communication and set boundaries before issues arise. If you do encounter problems, express your feelings in a healthy, upfront way.