Moving in with a new roommate is both exciting and anxiety-inducing (especially if you're also moving to a new city). Even if the person is a friend and someone you have known for years, living with them changes the relationship. It is important to establish roommate rules before moving in with someone new.
Here are 25 essential roommate rules you should have before moving in together:
- Take Care of the Bills
- Don’t Use Each Other’s Things Without Asking
- Be Considerate about Movies, Music, and TV
- Realize You Do Not Have to Be Best Friends
- Do Not Let Minor Problems Become Major Resentments
- Always Communicate
- Create and Follow a Cleaning Schedule
- Respect Your Roommate’s Space
- Remember that Pets Are the Owner’s Responsibility
- Clean Up Your Own Mess
- Split the Household Chores
- Do Not Eat Your Roommate's Food
- Create a Small House or Apartment Fund
- Respect Shared Spaces
- Do Not Hog the Bathroom
- Do Not Gossip
- Do Not Be Overly Sensitive
- Give Your Roommate Space
- Try Occasionally Cooking and Sharing Large Meals
- Do the Dishes
- Refill the Toilet Paper
- Give and Get
- Take Turns with the Trash and Recycling
- Do Not Expect Your Roommate to Hang Out (or Disappear) When You Have Guests
- Practice the Golden Rule
1. Take Care of the Bills
You and your roommate must always pay your bills on time. Before moving in together, you should have an honest discussion with your roommate. Make sure you are both on the same page to get ahead of any future problems.
These days, many apartments and condos offer options to pay online, so taking care of your bills has never been easier. You can also set an automated notification that is sent to both you and your roommate every month as a reminder.
2. Do Not Use Each Other’s Things Without Asking
Not using each other’s things without asking is one of the more obvious roommate rules. While some people are more casual about sharing, others are not. You have to learn what kind of person your roommate is and then act accordingly.
Most people have at least some things they do not like others messing with. For example, maybe your roommate is very generous about sharing food but hates it when you touch his or her laptop. If this is the case, simply respect that! And have the self-awareness to realize that you probably have some things you are protective of as well.
When it comes to sharing, especially in the beginning, less is more.
3. Be Considerate about Movies, Music, and TV
If the main or only TV set is in a common area, you should be considerate. What that means is not blasting the TV or music when your roommate is trying to sleep or work. Also, you should not camp out on the couch and constantly control what is being watched. Switch off who has control over the remote or, better yet, find a show that you can both enjoy watching together.
When it comes to playing music, you should use earphones whenever possible. There are obvious exceptions to this rule (like, for example, when you and your roommate are both going out), but regularly blasting music will, eventually, get on your roommate’s nerves.
4. Realize You Do Not Have to Be Best Friends
While it is nice to be friends with your roommate, one of the most important roommate rules to remember that the two of you do not need to be best friends. You can do things separately and you do not have to constantly check in with each other. Friendly relations are a good thing, but co-dependency is not.
5. Do Not Let Minor Problems Become Major Resentments
If your roommate does something that bothers you, speak up. You do not have to let it become a fight or talk to them in a mean or aggressive way. But, you should let your roommate know how you feel.
In general, whenever you are confronted with a roommate issue, ask yourself whether you are being too sensitive. If the answer is “No,” then you should speak up. Just make sure you do so politely and quickly. Otherwise, resentments and bad behaviors will accumulate.
6. Always Communicate
Communication is key. The roommate relationship is like any relationship—you must not assume your roommate can read your mind. If you need them to know something, tell them!
7. Create and Follow a Cleaning Schedule
When it comes to living peaceably with your roommate, it is very important for you and those you live with to establish a simple, easy-to-follow cleaning schedule. Whether this involves choosing one day a week where you do a deep clean or multiple smaller days, it is important that you both get on the same page about acceptable levels of cleanliness.
If you and your roommate have dramatically different definitions of what it means to be clean, this can become a problem. Ideally, you only live with someone who has (at least) similar standards as yourself. But, if that’s not possible, you need to communicate and accept the fact that both you and your roommate are going to have to compromise. If you are the clean one, expect that your room can be as clean as you want it, but common areas may stay a bit messier than you would like. If you are the “dirty” one, accept that you are going to have to make a continual effort to keep things a bit cleaner and tidier than you may think they need to be.
8. Respect Your Roommate’s Space
Respecting your roommate’s space can mean many things. Depending on your roommate, you may or may not be permitted to go into their room. If you can tell your presence in your roommate’s room irritates them, simply stay out—odds are you do not have a good reason to be in there anyway. Try to have empathy and understand that just because something does not bother YOU, it does not mean that it should not bother THEM.
9. Remember that Pets Are the Owner’s Responsibility
Be responsible with your pets. Do not expect your roommate to take care of your pet or to clean up after their mess. Frankly, you should discuss getting a pet with your roommate before adopting one because, although it may be your right to have a pet, adding a cat or dog to an apartment is a big decision. Consider the implications a pet has on your roommate before moving forward.
10. Clean Up Your Own Mess
Cleaning up your own mess is essential. You should not leave dirty dishes in the sink, or track dirt into the house, or do any of the other things that can build resentment and damage your relationship with your roommate. Simply be considerate and take the extra couple of minutes to clean up after yourself—no excuses!
11. Split the Household Chores
If you do not have someone helping you clean your home, then you and your roommate are going to have to split some of the larger household chores. Mopping the floors, dusting, vacuuming, and other chores need to be done fairly regularly, and it is not fair if one roommate has to do them all. A good way to split the chores is to let each roommate choose one or two things they want to be responsible for. Then, you can switch off doing whatever chores remain based on the week or month.
12. Do Not Eat Your Roommate's Food
Eating each other's food is one of the roommate rules you do not want to break. Even if you are hungry or feel your roommate has “plenty” of food already sitting in the fridge. It is not your right to eat their food. Not only is this lazy on your part; it is also sure to anger your roommate.
13. Create a Small House or Apartment Fund
There are certain expenses like cleaning supplies, paper towels, dishwasher soap, etc., that both you and your roommate use. One of the more useful roommate rules is to start a "petty cash" account with your roommate. Put $10 or $20 a week into a glass jar and use it on shared items.
14. Respect Shared Spaces
The living room, kitchen, patio, and other shared spaces should be respected. If you are a bit messy, make sure you relegate your mess to your room. Do not let it seep into common areas. Also, this means you should not constantly camp out in common areas.
15. Do Not Hog the Bathroom
Two or more people using one bathroom can be difficult if one person is a bathroom hog. Make sure to take your roommate into consideration when you are spending time in the bathroom. That means not using all the hot water and not monopolizing the bathroom during times when you know your roommates need to get ready for work, the gym, or some other obligation.
16. Do Not Gossip
Gossiping about your roommates is both unkind and unwise. If you have a problem with your roommate, you should speak to them directly rather than talking behind their back.
17. Do Not Be Overly Sensitive
There are times when your roommate is annoying, and there are times when you are sensitive. Being able to distinguish between these two situations is a very valuable skill. A good exercise is to try to reflect when you have not been the best roommate and accept that no one is perfect. Pick your battles and be mindful of the reality that no one is completely considerate all the time.
18. Give Your Roommate Space
Not keeping tabs on your roommate is part of keeping your lives separate. No one wants to walk into a home where they are constantly getting quizzed. Before moving in with your new roommate, remember this roommate rule: Give your roommate space!
19. Try Occasionally Cooking and Sharing Large Meals
Cooking for your roommate once and a while and sharing the occasional large meal is a great way to maintain a friendly relationship. You can reach most people’s hearts through their stomachs.
20. Do the Dishes
Dirty dishes are one of the most commonly avoided chores. Whether you load or unload the dishwasher, though, you should get into the habit of spending at least a few minutes every day doing the dishes. Such a simple habit can have an enormous positive impact.
21. Refill the Toilet Paper
Refilling the toilet paper is one of the only household chores that you can do sitting down. Don’t be lazy!
22. Give and Get
If your roommate is constantly cooking for you and doing other nice things, you should try and come up with a way to do something nice for them. Regardless of how nice your roommate is, you should not allow them to constantly give to you without trying to do something in return.
23. Take Turns with the Trash and Recycling
No one likes taking out the trash or recycling. But it needs to be done, so simply switch of doing it, and it will be done!
24. Do Not Expect Your Roommate to Hang Out (or Disappear) When You Have Guests
If you have guests over, your roommate should not feel obligated to constantly hang out or to immediately disappear. Obviously, this goes both ways. For example, if your parents are visiting for the first time, it is reasonable to ask your roommate to make an appearance and say hello. But you should always give them some advanced notice and not simply expect them to drop what they are doing just because you want them to.
25. Practice the Golden Rule
The golden rule encompasses all other roommate rules. If you simply treat your roommate the way you like to be treated, everything will go perfectly!
Now that you know the 25 essential roommate rules, you and your roommate can start having fun and enjoying living together. Remember, do not be too strict and always think about how your actions impact the person you are living with.
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