How to keep the peace with your roommate

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Living with a roommate can be a lot of fun and less lonely than sleeping alone. However, cohabitation is not without its challenges, so it’s never good to rush into a living situation. Before agreeing to share your space with another person, you should consider a few factors. From choosing a roommate to sharing responsibilities and building a positive relationship, a little preparation will go a long way.

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Find the right roommate

How to keep the peace with your roommate

Photo: istockphoto.com

Choosing a suitable roommate is essential. Whether you’re hoping for a new friend or just want someone to split the cost of rent, compatibility is key. Beyond listening to your instincts, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this individual have a temperament that I enjoy being around? If a quiet evening at home appeals to you, someone who wants to be entertained late into the night might not be a good fit.
  • Do our schedules work well together? If you’re hoping to spend time with your roommate, make sure you’ll be home together sometimes. If you want fewer contacts, someone who works opposite hours might be attractive.
  • Does this person share the same values ​​regarding home maintenance? If you shudder at the sight of the clutter, make sure you’re both aligned on apartment maintenance.
  • Can they reliably pay the rent? Make sure your new roommate can cover half of the expenses each month.
  • Can you communicate effectively with this person? Problems inevitably arise during cohabitation, so it’s essential to choose someone to live with who is open to feedback and willing to compromise.

If you’re planning to return home or relocate with family members, try some tips for living in a multigenerational home.

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Set and maintain boundaries

The perfect time to set boundaries in any relationship is at the beginning. Discuss topics such as entertaining guests, sharing common spaces, cleaning, and sharing groceries and toiletries. Establish ground rules from the start to avoid awkward conversations later.

To do this:

  1. Set aside a dedicated time to discuss your hopes for the arrangement.
  2. Be upfront about your expectations and limitations, and listen carefully to theirs.
  3. Take notes and review them together at the end of the conversation to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

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Breakdown of expenses

How to keep the peace with your roommate

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During your meeting, be sure to bring up the subject of apartment or house expenses. Beyond rent, there are bills and supplies to consider. Be specific about how it will work each month and consider your strengths and preferences when deciding how to divide the tasks.

Choose a system that suits your situation. Maybe you split everything in the middle, or one of you is responsible for the bills while the other is responsible for buying items like paper goods and cleaning supplies. Whatever you decide, once you know the costs of each, you can pay yourself electronically using a free app like Venmo. Better yet, use an app like Splitwise available on iOS and Android to organize expenses, track bills, and get reimbursed. Avoid having to send reminders (although the app can do that) and instead institute a fixed schedule or payday each month.

When it comes to furniture, instead of contributing, consider that everyone contributes different elements. This way it’s clear who can take what with them when you part ways. This will help avoid disputes over ownership later on or the need to value used parts. Be sure to write down who owns what, as it’s easy to lose track, especially if the arrangement lasts a few years or more.

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Sharing household responsibilities

Since everyone has different standards, cleanliness can be a hot topic when sharing a space. It is not uncommon for a person to take on more household chores. Avoid resentment and arguments later by establishing a cleaning schedule early on. Schedule time to talk about your preferences and assign tasks. Maybe one of you isn’t afraid to vacuum and the other loves achieving a sparkling bathroom. Rotate your schedule if you don’t want to be tied to the same jobs every month.

It’s a good idea to keep a visual board. A chalkboard or whiteboard will provide the perfect place to record weekly responsibilities. For those who want digital reminders, there are apps to help with household chores. Try Tody, an app available on iOS and Android, to help you manage household cleaning routines with checklists and notifications.

resolve conflicts

How to keep the peace with your roommate

Photo: istockphoto.com

Even the best laid plans will encounter difficulties. If you live with someone long enough, you’re likely to run into conflict for one reason or another, and the sooner you can resolve it, the better. Letting negative feelings simmer can create an uncomfortable life situation, so be pretty candid about how you feel. Here are some tips for approaching this conversation.

  • Schedule time to talk.
  • Give each person a space to express their feelings and concerns. Use I-statements and avoid blaming, which will only put the other person on the defensive.
  • Before expressing your concerns, rephrase what your roommate is saying to make sure you understand.
  • Once you’ve both shared your feelings and made sure you understand where the other is coming from, take turns offering solutions to move forward. If there is no obvious solution, agree to keep the lines of communication open while being aware of each other’s feelings.

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How to keep the peace with your roommate

Photo: istockphoto.com

5 more tips to keep in mind

  1. Take ownership when you are the cause of a breakup. We all have the right to be in a bad mood from time to time. Accepting responsibility for your behavior and apologizing will help you quickly get your life situation back on track.
  2. Living with someone is not always a quid pro quo arrangement. This means you can sometimes surprise your roommate by doing their other half of the chores, especially if they’re having a rough week.
  3. Take care of yourself. The more stressed and tired you are, the more irritable you will be at home. Sleep, hydration, movement and sunshine will go a long way to improving your relationship.
  4. Be considerate. A little consideration is part and parcel of a comfortable living situation. This means doing things like asking before inviting other people into your space and cleaning up after they’ve left.
  5. Have realistic expectations. If you want your home to be spotless, quiet, and 100% clean, you might want to opt for a solo studio. Otherwise, keep your expectations reasonable and invest in good noise canceling headphones.
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