Communication is key to a successful roommate relationship. Whether you’re random roommates or best friends, learning how — and when — to have an open and honest conversation with your roommate can help ensure you’re both happy in the shared space. Here are some tips to help set yourselves up for success.
Set Expectations Early
Laying out your expectations on day one can help you and your roommate cohabitate peacefully. Before you sign a lease, or before you officially move in, sit down and sort out the basics. Figure out when they wake up, when they go to sleep, and how much they’ll be home. Then, decide how you want to divide expenses, create a cleaning schedule for shared spaces, and set some ground rules for guests if necessary.
Fix Problems Fast
Try your best to tackle any issues or areas of concern as soon as possible. If you wait too long to address any given situation, you might run the risk of getting into a heated argument. Plus, your roommate might be less likely to stop whatever behavior is bothering you, whether that’s eating your food without permission or not cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom, if they’re already in the habit of doing it.
Prepare Solutions Ahead of Time
Whenever you come to your roommate with a complaint or frustration, it’s a good idea to have a solution at the ready: If they keep wearing your clothes, let them know you’re happy to share if they ask first; if they’re having people over late at night, suggest they leave by a certain time or only host friends on the weekends. By providing a solution, you’re letting them know you care about their feelings, too, and are willing to find a fair compromise.
Talk in Person
Text messages, phone calls, and even handwritten notes can be misunderstood. It’s best to talk through issues big and small in person. This way, you can have a full conversation and gauge one another’s emotions. Be sure you choose a time that’s convenient for you and your roommate. Don’t grab them to chat when they’re heading out the door for work or about to leave town. Instead, talk over a meal or find some free time during the weekend.