Often, the only way it’s financially possible to move away from home and live on your own is to live with a roommate – or even several roommates. For this to work best, you need to choose your roommates carefully and really talk about specifics before you commit yourself. It helps if you and your roommates have similar lifestyle preferences.
Going off to college often means having to experience the challenge of arbitrary roommate assignment. Yet, whether you know your roommate ahead of time or meet them on check in day, being prepared for the experience may go a long way to contributing to a successful situation.
• It might be helpful to keep in mind that friendships seldom happen instantly and you’ll need to give yours time to grow. Don’t expect your roommate to be your instant best friend. If you have moved in with your best friend, be sure not to take advantage of the friendship, for instance, ask before borrowing something, even if you know your friend won’t mind.
• Even the oddest couple can survive together if they thoughtfully make and honor a mutual agreement. Having an agreement worked out ahead of time on issues such as friends visiting, study hours, food, cleaning, borrowing and music, may help head off issues before they become big problems. Having a written agreement to pull out when sticky situations arise can be in both your best interests.
• Nail down who pays for what right upfront. Make arrangements that work for everyone regarding any mutual expenses. For example, don’t agree to get cable service and split the bill and then resent paying for it because you never have time to watch TV.
• Consideration, communication and respect are key to any successful living arrangement. Make every reasonable effort to accommodate the needs of your roommate but make sure that you also stand up for yourself. Your grades or your work performance shouldn’t have to suffer because you constantly have guests in your home when you need to hit the books or crash.
• Often, students tell their parents they are having trouble with their roommate before they even try to work it out. When issues arise make every effort to talk about them with your roommate directly.
It’s great if you and your roommates have similar lifestyle preferences, but sometimes that just isn’t the case. It may help to remember that differences do not have to be problems and that it isn’t necessary to like someone to get along with them.