Given that each human being is unique, living with another person will require some sacrifices and considerations from both parties—whether you move in with a sibling, roommate, or significant other. Your childhood environments and personal values will influence how you each manage your own lives and space, so it can be challenging to bring two people together. Here are 11 useful tips that will help you transition into your new living arrangement.
1. Start off as well as possible
First impressions are important, so be friendly and polite from the get go. This does not mean overwhelming your roommate with a peppy, cheerleader attitude—just be enthusiastic and demonstrate a positive attitude to create a light mood. Consider bringing a small welcoming gift to demonstrate that you care for the other person; you can even tailor the gift to suit their personal preferences to show your attention to detail and consideration. For example, gift a small jar of chocolate bars to a chocolate lover, or ring dish for a fashion enthusiast.
2. Roommate contract
This may seem tacky, but sitting down to write a roommate contract will allow you to talk openly and honestly about personal preferences from the very beginning, before there’s a chance for any conflicts to arise. This contract will serve as a reminder to be considerate of each other, and can be referred to if future disagreements arise. Discuss bed times, schedules, chores, allergies, and the preferred temperature to maintain.
3. Be considerate and respectful
Your family may understand your unique quirks, but your new roommate may not, so give a heads up or be conscientious of your actions so you’re not too intrusive. For example, if your roommate goes to sleep before you do, dim the lights or use a lamp instead. Additionally, be observant and try to understand your roommate’s personality and preferences so you can complement them as best as possible. Be responsible for your own property, and be considerate of other’s property. Don’t borrow clothing or take food without asking for permission!
4. Don’t sacrifice too much of yourself
Any relationship requires sacrifice from both parties, so don’t allow yourself to sacrifice too much for your roommate. Both of you should work together to make the living arrangement pleasant, so politely approach your roommate if you feel like you are giving up too much of yourself and have started to feel uncomfortable.
5. Update your roommate on your whereabouts
Your roommate isn’t your babysitter, but it’s respectful and courteous to send a text message or write a note about your current situation. If you are coming home late, let your roommate know so they don’t have to worry.
6. Attend events or go to activities together
Not everyone knows their roommate before living with them, so plan to spend time together to bond and get to know each other. Making new memories will strengthen your relationship, and you can meet new people together, fusing your friend groups and diminishing the divide between you.
7. Give your roommate space
At the same time, your roommate is not your shadow, so it’s okay to be apart for periods of time during the day. You need at least some space, or else you’ll easily get sick of each other! Having time apart will also allow you to have stories to share later on in the day.
8. Don’t forget your keys
Be responsible and carry your own keys to avoid inconveniencing your roommate. This is especially important if you decide to come home later at night; you won’t have to wake up your roommate by knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell.
9. Be conscious of your noise level
In addition to music, many other noises can distract or disturb your roommate. Try to turn off your alarm clock as quickly as possible in the morning, and consider finding a different room if you’re on the phone. Also, be as inconspicuous as possible when you come in late at night or leave early in the morning.
10. Establish a clear line of communication
Honesty is the best policy, so do not be afraid to genuinely express your feelings and values. There are polite and light-hearted ways to do this without offending your roommate. Also, remind your roommate that you are open to discussions or changing a specific habit in case they feel uncomfortable.
11. Question jar
Finally, consider trying a fun activity that will help break the ice and allow you to get to know each other better! Obtain little slips of paper, and write down questions ranging from “Favorite ice cream flavor?” to “What’s your favorite vacation memory?” Place the slips in a jar, and take turns picking and answering questions.