Four Ways To Avoid Being A Horrible Roommate

If you are a twenty-something trying to make it in the world or, if you’re still traumatized from seeing Scream when you were a kid, you’ve probably had or currently have a roommate.

Throughout my five years at college – before you start making jokes, I was working on two degrees – I had 13 different roommates, 14 if you count a roommate’s girlfriend who was basically a squatter.

While I had some good roommates (this came after I gave up on the fantasy of my next random roommate becoming my life-long best friend) most of them were bad. No actually, most of them were fucking awful – dirty, rude, prone to stealing, and lacking all common decency.

As I’ve learned them, the basics of being a good roommate are: paying your rent on time, washing your own dishes, not playing loud music too late at night, and not having sex all over the apartment/ house.

The basics are great, but they’re not everything. Here are four simple tips to avoid being labeled and forever known as an “asshole roommate.” Let me preface these tips by saying that I’m not the best roommate, but I’ve had enough bad ones to have learned some things…

1. Never drink the last beer

I’m all for roommates having a communal beer-fund. For those who like to have a beer or two at home, I think that it’s a fair way to distribute beer-conomics. Quick side-note: This approach probably won’t work for those who choose to binge drink and see a twelve-pack as just a warm-up.

But drinking the last beer in a shared beer-fund can lead to disaster. Everyone thinks they deserve the last beer – my day at work was harder than yours, my classes are so much more difficult than any you’ve ever taken, I’m having relationship problems and you’re single.

Eating their whole box knock-off Cheez-Its or their first-born child might be okay, but touch that beer they’ve been dreaming about all day and you’ll have yourself dealing with your roommate’s nervous break-down.

If you really want that last beer, get to the store and buy the next six-pack.

2. Restock the empty toilet paper roll

We’ve all been there – after a productive and satisfying time in the bathroom, we look over and there’s just half-a-square of toilet paper holding on for dear life, dangling from the roll. Our world crumbles.

The thing about the bathroom is that it’s one of the most vulnerable times of a person’s day – they’re caught with their pants down and defenseless.  Panic ensues once they realize there’s not even one full square of TP.

As a good roommate, you should always make sure there’s at-least half a roll before you leave the bathroom. If there isn’t, go to the hall closet and restock. While seemingly altruist, this act will also improve your bathroom karma.

3. Don’t write passive aggressive notes and put them on the refrigerator

Part of living with someone is learning how to keep a house-balance; there’s usually the type-A person whose checking account you transfer rent money into, and they revel in the responsibility. This take-charge person may also feel like they need to regulate every part of the household.

I understand that roommates don’t always have the same schedule, and that writing a note may be, at times, the most effective way to get your point across, but calm down a bit. Scribbling out refrigerator diatribes takes the whole controlling aspect a bit too far.

Notes like “I’m not your mother and will not clean up after you” or “the trash collectors come every Tuesday, just letting you know for the 100th time” don’t do anyone good, and usually just cause a retaliation – you know, like them spitting in your food or “losing” the jacket you let them borrow.

4. Don’t leave your clothes in the washer or dryer for days at a time

The process of washing a load of clothes should not take a whole week. A day, I’m fine with, but more than that is pushing it. I’ve had roommates who have to re-wash their clothes because they left them in the washer so long the garments started to get moldy.

I don’t know if I have a mild case of OCD or what, but I hate touching other peoples’ clothes. Also, moving their clothes from the washer to the dryer gives me anxiety because I’m worried that I’ll mess up their delicates.

If you don’t have the time to go through a whole clothes-cycle, you should just put it off until you do (you’ve already put off doing your laundry for the past month anyway).

Living with other people can be an integral part of becoming an adult; it teaches us to roll with the punches compromise. Roommates get an all-access pass to our lives – the fact that we like bad reality TV and still obsess over an ex – so it’s only fair that we try to make our time with them drama-free. Plus, if we treat them right, they’re more likely to box up our dirty secrets instead of airing them out when the lease is up. TC mark

image – Jeffery Bennett


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  • Michael Koh

    living alone is another option … if you have $$$$$$$

  • Heretica Neue

    Solution for #2: keep extra toilet paper in the bathroom instead of the hall closet. :P

  • mashka

    let’s also add: Don’t go into my closet, wear my clothes and then claim that you have “no idea” where my brand new leather jacket is that I paid hundreds of dollars for… only for me to have to later find it crumpled up in a ball hidden in a purse in your closet.

    Don’t come into my room to snoop around as soon as you think I have left for work. WTF how creepy. Careful though, there could be that one time where I am still ‘asleep’ hidden under the covers and catch you when you’re tiptoeing in.

    Don’t take responsibility for paying all of our bills and have me give you half the amount in a check every month because it’s “easier” only for me to later find out you cashed all of my checks but never actually paid any of the bills.

    Just some tips……

    • NoSexCity

      You either need to find a fat girl or a dude to live with, chicky.

      • Mashka

        haha yea I’ve been living by myself for about 2 years now

  • Patricia Novanti


  • Joanna L

    Another tip: not touching or rearranging my stuff without my knowledge.    Has happened to me before and trust me, it’s not fun walking home and discovering your things are gone in another room because you roommate decided to freshen things up.

    • Aja

      My exroommate used to do this all the time when she got drunk.  It really used to piss me off because she would do nonsensical things like put every day toiletries in the back of the linen closet and spices in the basement.  Every time I left for a vacation I dreaded coming home for this reason.

  • Anonymous

    dang, you got a washer/dryer?

  • sam c

    you forgot don’t be a drama queen and don’t fight with your sig. other loudly and at 2am

  • Kai

    Not drinking ANY of the beer you didn’t pay for.
    Not buying 1/24 of the amount of toilet paper that I do.
    Not keep a ration of 7:1 at the door, 7 being the number of pairs of shoes you have, 1 being the number of pairs I have (especially when the closet is so full of your shoe racks that I can’t find room for my stuff).
    Don’t leave all the lights on when you go to bed.
    Don’t leave rotting fruit & veg in the fridge  (or moldy bread on the counter) when you’re gone for a week.
    Don’t make me be the only person to clean the bathroom, vacuum, or clean the kitchen. Ever.

    It’s time to move out.

    eta: Don’t put your food on my shelf in the fridge when you have two shelves, all the space on the door and one of the two crispers.

    • :D:D:D

      this is TC, not a dry erase fridge magnet.

      • Kai


    • Aja

      Time to move out for sure.  My last situation echoed your sentiments.  I don’t know why I tolerated it for so long.  Glutton for punishment perhaps. 

      • Kai

        I’m only still there because I’m so broke. With luck I’ll be out by the end of September and then broke forever.

  • :D:D:D

    fridge notes are the worst

  • Adrian McMillan

    Sorry, but I think #3 is necessary.

    @facebook-1363230138:disqus – Living alone is too damn expensive.

    • ALEX

      no they aren’t ! it really makes the other roommates talk behind your back and resent you! Unless they are general notes like this bill is due on this date but not passive aggressive remarks that you would never say to my face !

      • Adrian McMillan

        Why is it necessary for the roommate to talk behind your back? If I’ve confronted you about cleaning up a mess that’s yours, being late on a bill, etc (which happens before leaving a note) then shouldn’t the same be done if I screw up?

    • Guesty

      Well, then, you’re a terrible person.  

      • Adrian McMillan

        Think what you want, but I’m really not.

    • Anonymous

      My roommate and I send passive aggressive emails when we are one room away from each other.

  • Natalie

    If no one ever drinks the beer then who drink the last beer?

    • NoSexCity

      You still technically get the last beer, but you are also bringing The New Six-Pack into the building.

  • Loserello

    I’m more concerned about the last breakfast hot pocket than I am the last beer.  But, we’re late 20’s roommates who just don’t want to grow up quite yet so we live and carpool to work together.

  • Sara K

    don’t use my dish sponge to wipe the sink! Don’t you know kitchen sinks are dirtier than toilets?! (according to Oprah)

  •!/nvvmxac danne rassle

    Boring but true

  • Tyler Fox

    When your digusting hair clogs the shower drain (again) take the slightest bit of initiative and buy some drain-o, liquid plumber, lye, really whatever.

  • Michael Koh

    overheard this in a conversation: 

    “she left her dildo in the dishwasher”

    guess that’ll lose you some points

  • Julian Galette

    I’ve actually seen my friend and his roommate have arguments that go “You used my tooth paste.” “Well you used my toilet paper. “Because you used my ketchup!” etc etc etc

    That’s no way to live

  • Katherine Albin

    Ah. You forgot a good one. A  roommate tells you the wonders of this amazing house you could be moving into. They have lived there for the past year and know all the ins and outs of the place  and neighborhood. You sign the lease with so many happy thoughts. Then move in day comes and your roommate tells you “SURPRISE, WE HAVE BEDBUGS.” Thus commences your hysterical crying as you load your life into garbage bags before it even begins.


  • Daily tc reader

    No way. Refrigerator notes are necessary. Just make them outright aggressive and toward a specific person. All of the other roommates will hate that person too. 

  • Aimee Vondrak

    Thank you for verbalizing #3. THANK YOU. Notes make nothing better. Only worse.

  • Anonymous

  • Andrea Nero

    My first roommates ever hosted a naked olympics at our place and used my cereal bowls for a sport called ‘literal tea bagging’ where they put boiling water in the cereal bowls, which they placed on the floor. They then tied teabags to two fat guys ball sacks and the fat guys had to see who could keep the bag in the boiling water the longest. 

    • Sanyukta Banerjie

      WHA??!! And I thought my roomie and I had issues…. :O :O

  • Stellie Cat

    please do not bring a group of random GUYS every single day of the week and then expect me to entertain them while you play “put the truck in the garage”

  • Nini

    I used to have a roommate who’d be glued to the tv/dvd for hours. Literally. Every weekend, i’d try to watch at least 2 movies or 4 episodes of tv series that i like and he’d be like on my heels asking “well, what time will you finish?  cause ive got some dvds to watch”. OMFG.  Once, I snapped back and said that well if he’s gonna hog the tv, then he might as well pay a bigger share on the electric bill. FSOB.  After that, he would politely ask me if I wanted to use the tv, even on weekdays.

    After 4months, I finally moved out and got a place of my own.  Solved all problems.  

  • ya_motha

    I wish room mates could simply show common courtesy. Like if you make a mess, clean it up. If you clog a toilet, unclog it. If you create garbage, dispose of it. If you expect someone else to do this for you even once you are a terrible person. Also if it’s late at night, shut the hell up. people need to realize that the world does not revolve around them. ITS ALL ABOUT THE GOLDEN RULE.
    My room mates are pakistani and don’t understand how to dispose of garbage. Only one of them will take the garbage out once in a blue moon and when they do, they leave it in the open to be ripped open by animals. Now there is garbage blowing all over my lawn and the rest of the neighbourhood, I found a used condom on the lawn just the other day. When I ask them about it they always deny putting the garbage there, even though it’s obvious based on what I see blowing around. I’m not even going to mention what they do to the washroom it would make you cry.

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