Living with roommates can save you money — or help you afford a nicer place to live — but beware of the pitfalls of communal living. Here are a few tips for being a good roommate.
Tackle the question of who pays for what quickly and early on. Will each person pay a portion of the rent directly to the landlord? Who will pay for what utilities? How will you ensure it’s equitable? Talk it out and make a joint decision.
Discuss who will buy the toilet paper, cleaning supplies, groceries, and other household items used by everyone. Should you assign each roommate to provide shared pieces of furniture, a set of dishes and silverware, a vacuum cleaner, and other communal items? Or should you go on a joint shopping trip and each person contributes an equal share of the money?
Mutual respect for your roommate
Clean up after yourself in common areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Participate in routine cleaning of the living room and other shared spaces. If roommates have a different sleep schedule, keep the noise level down. Treat others’ property as good as – or better than – your own. When an issue arises, approach a roommate with respect and talk it through instead of sparking an argument.
Personal habits and sharing areas
Before signing a lease, come to an agreement on topics such as smoking, pets, bedtime preferences. Discuss your respective routines and showering needs, and perhaps come up with a morning schedule, for shared bathrooms especially. Talk over dining times and preferences to come up with a workable arrangement. Designate parking spaces for each of you, as well as where guests can park.
When planning to have guests, let your roommate know — the sooner, the better. Come to an agreement about how long the guests will stay, the use of the common areas, and whether the roommate is welcome to join in activities. Don’t have guests over constantly and don’t expect your roommates to lock themselves in their rooms to give you and your guests more space. Clean up behind your guests and make sure they follow the house rules.
In some cases, it may prove advantageous to put the house rules in writing and have everyone sign the document. A formal agreement could save a friendship when disagreements arise.
Related – Are You a Candidate for Home Sharing?