Roommates, Student Life

Choosing Your College Roommate: Why Rooming with Your Best Friend May Not be the Best Idea

When you head off to college, it is one of the scariest times in your life; you’re away from most of the people you know, you are living away from home, and you’re starting a whole new chapter in your life, all at once.  This may also be the first time you’ll be sharing a room with someone, and it can be an incredibly scary to think that you’ll be sharing a room with someone whom you don’t know.  You will immediately ask yourself “Who do I know that I could room with?”

In an article we read by Julie and Lindsey Mayfield on U.S. News and World Report, they explain that while it may be tempting, your first choice shouldn’t be your best friend.  While you feel like it may take a lot of the pressure off the situation, you may actually be putting more stress on the relationship.  This is because when you move away for school, you are not only trying to get used to living with someone else, but you are also just trying to get used to being away at school.  Considering all of this, it can end disastrously.

In another article we read by University Language Services, they explain that besides the fact that you may lose your best friend, there’s a myriad of other problems you can encounter.  First, your social life can take hit because you are often less likely to push yourself to make new friends.  Second, you may miss out on new experiences.  By choosing to room with your best friend you are less likely to seek out new friendships, and are therefore less likely to experience new people and new things. Third, your old habits will be harder to break.  When you live with your best friend you are more likely to hold onto your old habits and your more likely to stick to your old routine.  By living with new people, you could introduce yourself to new things that you might not otherwise have tried.  Lastly, your work ethic (and your bank account) are sure to suffer.  If you live with your best friend, you may end up spending more time socializing than you do on your schoolwork, as your room will double as a study and social area on a daily basis.   You will also most likely be going out more often, and so your wallet will suffer too.

Alternatively, many suggest that living with a friend (rather than a best friend), or even living with a stranger are better options than living with your best friend.  Not only will this experience expose you to new people and new things, but you friendships will remain in tact.

When you’re encountering any situation with a roommate, it’s always a good idea to set out a list of ground rules and expectations for the room beforehand.  In a previous post to our blog, we gave you a list of topics that may be useful to discuss with your roommate.  According to the Mayfields, you just have to realize sharing can get tricky, and that you have to open and honest when problems do arise. While you don’t have to be best friends, it is in the best interest of both of you to ensure that you can get along for at least the next year.


7 Topics You Want to Discuss With Your Roommate(s)

Whether you’re subletting this summer or looking to move into a new place in the fall, you are bound to run into some issues with your roommate(s).  However, there are some things you can discuss with them beforehand that will help you nip some of these potential issues in the bud.


According to an article we read on, if you’re sharing a room, you will want to discuss your tendencies when it comes to listening to music and watching TV.   Some people would prefer listening to music or watching TV with speakers, and other people would be fine with headphones.  You’ll want to see what each other’s preferences are and maybe come to a decision as to what times the speakers can be used.

Even if you aren’t sharing a room you want to be sure that you establish the use of the TV and/or stereo.  How will time be divided up amongst the roommates?  Will you have quiet hours?

Shared Items

In an article we read by Missy Slink in Yahoo! Voices, she explains that you will want to determine what items will be for community use and what items will not.  Will you share food?  If so, what foods will you be sharing?  Will you be sharing things like a vacuum?

You’ll also want to determine how and if you will be sharing things like toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning products.  Will you each buy your own?  Will you be splitting this, and if you do decide to split this, how will you divide the cost amongst the roommates?

Sleeping Habits

If you’re sharing a room, this is especially important to discuss beforehand.  If you’re roommate goes to bed at 10 pm and you go to bed around 3 am, you’ll want to establish how you will manage this.  Does this mean you’ll switch to a desk lamp to study?  Can you watch television when they go to bed?

If you each have your own room, you will still want to discuss this so that you can properly set quiet hours.  This way you won’t be disturbing someone while they are trying to sleep.

Guest Habits

When you’re sharing a space, you’ll want to figure out what the guest policy will be for your room/apartment.  If you plan on having a lot of friends over, or you have a significant other, you will want to figure out when they can come over, when they can’t, and when guests should go home.  You may also want to determine what the ground rules will be for guests in terms of using shared items.


As someone who has had roommates who leave all the doors unlocked, this is definitely something you want to discuss beforehand.  If you are someone who likes to make sure everything is locked up when you run to get coffee, or when you go to bed at night, you will want to talk about that beforehand with your roommate.


If you’re sharing a room, you’ll want to determine if you want to share room decorations, or you want to set up your own spaces.  If each have your own separate bedrooms, you will still want to establish decorations for the common areas.


You want to establish beforehand how and when you will raise concerns with one another should they arise.  It may be a little awkward to establish this beforehand, but you don’t want to be that roommate who leaves passive aggressive notes around when they get frustrated.  That won’t end well.

By establishing some ground rules beforehand and making sure you can live comfortably together, this will help you have a better roommate experience.  Just remember:  the space belongs to both of you.

For tips more tips on how to ensure fairness between you and your roommate(s), check out Splitwise and their blog at