It’s not completely ridiculous to say that, at some point in your life, you will probably have a roommate. Whether it’s in the dorms at college, an apartment, or even a rental house, you will share a living space with someone. And the way you behave with that person in the shared space can make or break your relationship with them. So let’s take some time go over some basic rules of roommate etiquette, shall we?
PAY ON TIME.
Money seems like it’s at the top of every list, and roommate etiquette is no different so it definitely deserves all caps. Nothing breeds animosity between roommates like money. You and your roommates should pay everything on time. Make sure you give or receive the money early to pay shared bills. And if you need more time, talk to your roommate well in advance so arrangements can be made. Messing around with the money side can have horrible consequences—late and missed payments impact credit scores, which can affect your (or your roommate’s ability) finances down the road. Set up a system to ensure that everyone pays their fair share on time.
Clean up after yourself.
This one probably seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised. Did you cook something? Wash the dishes and put the leftovers away. Did you just spend 30 minutes grooming yourself in the bathroom? Put all your stuff away. These kinds of things only take a few extra minutes, but they can go a long way in keeping your place tidied up. Just one person not regularly cleaning up after themselves is an invitation to unwanted houseguests…the kinds with six legs.
Help clean up after others.
There’s a bit of cleaning in these rules, isn’t there? Cleaning is huge part of adulting. And taking a minute to check out the big picture is pretty mature. If you see the trash is full, take it out. If you notice a spill, wipe it up. Maybe your roommate is sick. Offer to do their share of the cleaning or laundry until they feel better. Not only does this help keep your living space clean, it shows that you are thinking of others, which is a pretty fantastic thing to do.
Be considerate of the shared spaces.
Speaking of thinking of others, this is a biggie. From little things like groceries to biggies like buying furniture, you need to think of and probably talk to your roommate about a lot when it comes to the living space. Your roommate might have a food allergy, so you need to think of that when you get groceries by yourself. Maybe your roommate is on the night shift and has to sleep during the day. Think of that when you invite people over. Big purchases, such as furniture, should absolutely be talked about between roommates.
Ask for help and talk about it.
If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t do your share, call a meeting. Let everyone know what is going on and ask them for help. Even if it’s something small, like you picked up extra hours at work and can’t get to grocery shopping this week, it will be appreciated that you let shared what was up. Along those same lines, if you notice a roommate struggling, ask them if they need help. Talk to them about what they have going on. Remember, asking for help is not showing weakness.
Get it in writing.
Okay, this is less etiquette and more a “protection plan.” When you first agree to the living space with a roommate, take some time to sit down and write out an agreement. It doesn’t have to be quite as extensive as Sheldon Cooper’s, but it should at least cover the basics: who pays what, how payments are collected, when payments are due, how groceries are purchased, if and how you will share larger cleaning duties, etc. I know it seems like a pain, but having a document signed by all roommates can definitely come in handy if the living situation turns sour.
Did you notice a theme in these etiquette rules? Yes…you have to think about more than just yourself. Having a roommate is a big deal. Being a good roommate makes life easier for everyone and can result in years of the same shared living space. But don’t worry if it takes time for you and your roommate to adjust to each other. It will take some time, but following these rules will ease that transition period. And if you need a laugh (or a guide on what not to do), check out the “bad roommate” threads on Reddit.