When you’re in college, living off-campus is an incredible way to enjoy the freedom of adulthood. Unless you’re ready for the expenses of living on your own, though, you’re going to need a roommate.
How you feel about living with a stranger probably depends in part on your past. Movies, for instance, romanticize the situation by turning your roommate into your next best friend or soul mate.
Other movies make it terrifying. They showcase all the horror stories that could happen by living with someone else.
The Truth About Having Roommates
The reality is a lot more neutral. Yes, you could end up with a storybook tale. But it’s more likely that you’re going to interact normally, get along for the most part, and disagree over a few things.
This article explains the pros and cons of off-campus homes and roommates. If you’re not sure whether it’s right for you, don’t listen to a horror movie. Read the article and make your decision.
Your time living with a roommate off-campus can be a success without a movie to guide you. Use these three tips to encourage everyone to get along!
1. Come Up With House Guidelines
You’re living off-campus for a reason, right? You don’t want to deal with the rules and restrictions of a dorm. However, if you and your roommate(s) don’t talk about your expectations, it can go downhill quickly.
Clarify the Terms
You all might agree to be respectful of each other, but what does that mean? To you, it could look like coming home quietly and keeping the noise down after midnight. To your roommate, it may appear totally different.
If you’re a neat freak and your roomie is a slob, it’s not going to go well. One day, you might come home to a horror story: a disaster of dirty dishes all over the kitchen and takeout boxes everywhere.
Take a few minutes to casually talk about the expectations you each have. Come up with some loose house rules (they don’t have to be written, but you can). When everyone is on the same page, it’s easier to be considerate.
2. Do Some Bond-Building Early
Successful relationships between roommates are built, not automatic. By spending time together for the first weeks, you get to know each other’s personalities better.
It doesn’t mean you’re all going to be best friends forever. But you’ll learn your roommates’ likes and dislikes, habits, and goals. This will, in turn, help you to be more aware of things that could annoy them.
You’ll even be able to cheer them up if they’re having a bad day because you know what they enjoy.
Plan Getting-to-Know-You Activities
Work together to come up with a timeline and some things to do together. Escape rooms, game nights, and scavenger hunts are great group activities. Avoid movies, fancy restaurants, or places where you’re more independent and quiet.
If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this “roommate date” list. Challenge your roomies to do everything on the list, even if it’s out of their comfort zone. When the list is complete, you can all go back to your normal schedules.
3. Divide and Conquer the House
Another common cause of tension between roommates is when one person perceives a boundary was crossed by the other. If the “guilty” roomie didn’t know the boundary was there, though, they feel wrongly accused.
It’s an ugly situation where both sides are “in the right.”
This can be completely avoided by dividing the house into personal and communal areas. Inside the communal spaces, come up with ways to conquer the cleanup and organization together.
Try to avoid the “clean up after yourself” default rule. This doesn’t take into consideration must-dos, like taking out the garbage, cleaning the bathrooms, and other household chores.
Unless you have a Snow White-type roommate who loves to clean, you’re going to have to work together to decide who does what and when.
Everyone might have to do some compromising, but the benefits of living off-campus are worth it!
There are some personalities that click instantly and others that don’t mesh well. It doesn’t matter which way you and your roommate fall. You both want the perks of living off-campus, which means you both need to get along.
With these tips and mutual common sense and empathy, you might even end up with that movie-story lifelong friend!