Although I’ve experienced many different roommate situations over the last 5 years, only 1 of them was great… the rest drove me insane.
Inconsiderate roommates can drive anybody crazy, but the sad truth is that sometimes it isn’t their fault. Sometimes you just get stuck with a spoiled brat who has no idea how to share things, and you have to teach them like they’re 7.
So for your sanity, here is my guide to being a considerate roommate, in no particular order:
1. Understand that you may not become best friends. Your roommate may absolutely be your best friend, and that’s awesome, but I’m saying don’t expect it. Our expectations often make us act different, and in my experience, people who go into new roommate situations searching for their new BFF get clingy and annoying pretty fast.
2. Clean immediately. By immediately, I mean as soon as the mess is made. It’s one thing to leave dishes on the stove or in the sink because you want to eat while your food is hot and clean after, but it’s another thing to leave those dishes in the sink for days. It’s gross, it attracts bugs, and if you’re like I am right now and only have 2 pots for the whole apartment… your roommates don’t get to eat unless they clean up after you first.
3. Finish your laundry in one sitting. Do not start your laundry and then leave for the rest of the day. You can’t predict when laundry day will be the same for everyone who lives there, maybe your roommate needs to wash something for work, and it’s completely unfair to them to have to wait all day for you to get back because they’re too considerate to throw your wet shit on the floor but not considerate enough to finish your laundry for you because it’s not their job.
4. Take opportunities to bond. This is especially important if you have more than one roommate. You may just be in this living situation to save money or out of convenience, but for the time being you are a part of each other’s lives, so when you get the opportunity, have that movie night or that roomie dinner. It will give you all something to look forward to, and it definitely helps build relationships when you talk outside of nagging someone to clean or turn off their alarm.
5. Use headphones. If you’re home alone, great, blast your music or your Netflix. If your roommate(s) are home, use some damn headphones. If they wanted to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy with you, they would say so, and make it a group activity.
6. Keep a group calendar of everyone’s schedules. Nobody likes to be sexiled, and if you and your significant other have nowhere else to go for alone time, chances are your roommate has nowhere to go either. Instead of constantly asking your roommates to leave their own home, use the calendar to plan having people over when you already have the place to yourself.
7. Divide space as evenly as possible. When you’re the first to move in, your get your pick of bedroom and cabinet space, but that doesn’t mean you get every drawer in the bathroom.
8. Contribute to shared expenses. This has to do with things such as dishwasher pods, paper towels, trash bags, and the all important toilet paper. Refill these things before they run out. Do not let the same person refill them every time. If new rolls of toilet paper always magically appear under the sink, and one day you’re down to the last roll, that is a hint from your roommate that they are tired of buying it and it’s your turn. If there are more rolls of toilet paper nearby and you use the last of the roll next to the toilet, REPLACE IT. Don’t be that asshole who only leaves one square.
9. Take out the trash. Just like the toilet paper, this duty should be on a rotation. You’re contributing to the trash can filling up, so you should help take it out. Tying the trash bag and sitting it by the door does not count as taking it out.
10. Respect each other’s property. It’s a good idea to have a conversation early on about what you’re willing to share and what you’re not. Ex) Feel free to drink my orange juice as long as you buy more if you finish it.
However, just because someone is willing to share doesn’t mean there aren’t limits. If you bought the living room TV, you probably don’t want your roommate hosting movie parties every week, so you have to plan your own tv time around her parties. She should plan her parties around the time you want to use your tv.
Likewise, if your roommate buys the Keurig, let them make coffee first, and make sure you refill the water whenever you use it. Basically, think of your roommate first. If you don’t want to clean up after them, don’t make them clean up after you. If you want to be respected, you have to give respect.