If you’ve never lived with a roommate before, it can be slightly daunting. It’s strange to think that you’ll be sharing a home with someone whom you may have never met before. There is certainly a lot to navigate when it comes to understanding how you will share that space and the things in it. This is why we’ve come up with some ideas on how you can make sharing with your new roommate(s) easy.
In an article we read by Catherine Walsh at Suite101, she explains that allocating storage for each roommate in the kitchen, fridge and bathroom is a great start. You will also want to discuss with your roommates how the common areas will be used. Are they primarily for hanging out and relaxing, or are they for studying, or both? When will you have quiet hours? You want to be sure that you identify those things with one another before you begin the school year.
Another thing you want to identify are the restrictions and guidelines for guests and overnight guests. This is often the biggest problem roommates face, so be sure to to give plenty of notice when overnight guests are staying and establish beforehand what the terms will be. This includes how long they can stay, if and how they can use shared space and items.
Sharing Food and Other Items
Establish beforehand with roommate(s) what items you will be sharing and how you will label those that are not. This is especially important if you plan to share food items like milk, eggs, and condiments, as you want to establish a plan for purchasing them. To do this, you may even want to establish a schedule to determine whose turn it will be to buy the shared items and when. This way no one feels like they are the ones buying the food for everyone all the time.
You may also want to establish how these items get used, so you don’t run out of them before your next shopping trip. While you don’t want to be “nitpicky” about how everyone will use the ketchup, maybe you want to establish a rule that if you are the last one to use it when it runs out, then you are the one who has to replace it.
This often tends to be another major problem roommates face: who will clean what and when? Establish a timeline or a schedule for when cleaning and other chores will be done and who will be responsible for what. Maybe you want to break it up by week and switch off duties, or maybe you would prefer breaking it up by month; that is up to you and your roommate to decide what would be fair. However, you want to be sure that everyone has a task and that the tasks are broken up evenly, so no one feels like they are left with all the dirty work.
This is another tough subject for most roommates. Especially if you are sharing one lease and sharing utility expenses, it can get difficult when it comes time to make those payments. Our suggestion is to sign your own lease, rather than sign one lease between all the roommates (if your landlord allows it). This way you won’t be responsible to make up the difference if your roommate doesn’t pay their rent on time.
If you can’t sign your own lease, we suggest that you establish one person who will be collecting utility payments and establish a schedule for when they will be collected (before the bill is actually due). You may even want to switch off whose duty it is to do this, so no one feels like they are the “bad guy” all the time. You could even establish some penalties for when someone neglects to make their payment on time. This way everyone has an incentive to make his or her payment on time.
In terms of splitting utilities, that can be tough to do. Use the same strategy as you would with your rent payments. Be sure that everyone makes their payments on time so one person isn’t stuck with the bill.
The key to roommate sharing is really just establishing house rules beforehand, and making sure that everyone is complying with them. Overall, roommate sharing can be simple, just as long as you are considerate and are able to have open communication with one another.