It’s a big change to go from living in a room by yourself, in the comforts of your own home, to waking up to another person next to you every day. However, having a roommate is something many students experience—and end up majorly enjoying.
Living with a roommate, or roommates, is actually very common. In fact, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, almost one-in-three U.S. adults has an adult roommate.
Whether you’re a new boarding-school student, a college freshman, or just out of school with a new roommate, you may be going through some adjustment.
By following some simple tips, you’ll find that you can turn any fear or anxiety—about living with someone you don’t know—into a bond that may last forever.
Communicate with your roommates
As roommates, you might be sharing a small space for a long period of time, so it’s vital to understand each other’s cleaning habits, sleeping schedules, and opinions on guests. Without communication, it will be impossible to “just figure it out”.
Plus, if you don’t communicate, you can bet on having a misunderstanding—or several—at some point or another. Communicate about everything as early as possible to eliminate future conflict.
Scenario: your new roommate comes home with friends at 3:00 in the morning. Meanwhile, you’re in your bed, trying to get those z’s before your big biology exam.
You can really only fix this type of situation with communication—If your roommate had discussed this with you, you probably would’ve told them that it’s not the best night. And had your roommate known about your stressful next day, they might have changed their plans!
As long as both roommates are communicating their needs and plans (to some extent), you’ll have a better handle on your living situation and in turn maybe start having fun together! It can be extremely frustrating to work with and around someone, but the more you communicate, the more comfortable you’ll both become.
In an ideal world, you love your roommate upon first meeting, never have squabbles, and are best friends forever. Unfortunately this is not often a reality, and there may be many things about which you and your roommate disagree.
For example, lights out, having people over, playing music out-loud—the list can go on. These can seem like major, life-altering issues to navigate when you’re already taking time and effort to adjust to a new environment, schedule, and social life. But once you start to get into the flow of living together, you’ll see that you can find ways to keep both parties happy.
Figure out your differences early on and talk about how the two of you can live together—which will inevitably involve compromise. If you are very different people, this is okay! With a little compromise, you can learn to accept your differences, plan how you’ll compromise in any given scenario, and form a closer bond.
In the end, putting aside your pride & stubbornness and welcoming compromise will make living with a roommate more enjoyable.
Have a roommate adventure
Bonding time! Scheduling time to do things with your roommate means that instead of having awkward, forced conversations all the time, you’ll get to know each other in a much more natural way.
In college, my roommate and I planned adventures frequently, and it all began when we discovered a pumpkin patch and llama farm.
Having adventures with your roommate is a fun way to explore a potential friendship and also have a wild time in a new city or town.
I remember having two brand-new roommates abroad, and feeling incredibly uncomfortable making chit-chat at first. Then, when we actually went and explored our new city, we felt more comfortable developing a relationship.
Almost no one can spend time with just one person, so it’s important to find friends outside of your roommate. In order to prevent the two of you from going crazy, it’s crucial to branch out.
Spend time with people from your classes, your dorm, and in your clubs. There are endless options when it comes to making new friends—particularly, since a lot of the time, people around you are also looking for new friends!
Branching out is a great way to meet new people and if you do end up having trouble with your roommate, you’ll always have a place to escape.
Share with your roommates
As a student, one of my favorite things—whether it be at night or in the mornings—was a good roommate gabfest. Share funny stories from the weekend, ask for advice, and rant about the endless amount of work you have. This is a great way to bond and let off some steam.
Plus, sharing stories, ideas, and random middle-of-the-night thoughts can bring you closer together in many ways. You may realize the two of you have a weird obsession with aliens, or that you’ve both seen the Indiana Jones series innumerable times.
In addition to sharing the fun, light stuff, it’s also important to share basic values and needs in order to cohabitate successfully. It’s necessary that you and your roommate are able to address both of your needs and feelings in order to maintain an enjoyable and peaceful living environment.
Is living with roommates for you?
Taking the time to work through roommate issues may be tough, but it can also be so worthwhile. Many college roommates choose to continue living together after graduating, and some even become friends for life.
I, for one, can say that I definitely had to go through roommate struggles. From petty feuds to major arguments, I’ve seen it all—but my three roommates from my senior year are some of my best friends to this day.
After initially meeting your roommate, you may even realize there’s potential for the two of you to become great friends. And then during finals when you both are dying, you can vent to each other and learn how to survive finals week together.
Or, maybe not—but that’s okay! You’ll find that it’s perfectly normal to have roommate spats and still get along really well. And it’s also perfectly normal for two new roommates to not get along particularly well.
Whether or not living with roommates is the right choice for you, life is short. You don’t want to miss out on something that could positively enhance your life. If you try it out and don’t like it, you move on. Worst case scenario, you have some horrendous roommate stories about which you’ll look back on later and laugh.
Author: Lydia Schapiro