Renting a place alone is often too expensive and can be lonely. Sharing an apartment or duplex with a roommate is necessary to cut the cost, especially for those just starting out in the “real world” and those attending Texas A&M and Blinn. With today’s economy, saving money on living is tremendously helpful. Sharing your living experience with someone is a terrific way to bond and form relationships. Most of the time roommates form strong friendships that can last a lifetime. However, a successful relationship with your roommate is dependent on a few different things – two of which are compromise and clear communication.
Are you sure you want a roommate?
Before we delve too deeply into this, make sure you genuinely want a roommate. If you need a roommate purely for financial decisions, maybe it is not the smartest thing for you to jump right into searching for a friend to live with. A roommate comes with benefits and challenges. You have to be willing to trade the benefits for the setbacks. For example, if you are not sure you want a roommate, you may be able to find an apartment farther away from the middle of town for less money. If this trade-off is worth it to you, it is the smarter choice. It depends hugely on what your priorities are. Consider how valuable the following things are to you: privacy, space, independence, luxury, prime location, safety. The decision is ultimately up to you.
Equality is key.
When going into a new roommate situation, it helps to enter the agreement on equal ground. This helps start off the relationship on the right foot. If at all possible, move in on the same day as your roommate to avoid the feeling that the apartment or living space belongs more to one individual than to the other. This equality will help both parties to take responsibilities fairly. It will also decrease hostile feelings that may otherwise be kept hidden and cause unwanted tension.
Though it may not seem like an extremely serious matter, it helps if both parties are in similar financial situations. If one person feels he or she cannot compete with the other financially, this can create unwanted stress. If one person is always late with bills and cannot keep up with payments, this can also create problems. One roommate may want more privileges and luxuries in the living situation. He or she may want to hire a cleaning service or may want a particular cable package that costs more per month. The other roommate may not be able to afford this and may not be able to keep up with the payments because of it. Equal financial situations allow for a better chance of success in the roommate relationship.
Both individuals in the living situation should sign onto the lease. This gives both people equal rights and responsibilities for the living space. In many locations, a house will have a master bedroom and bathroom. If this is the case, it is common for the person with the bigger room to pay more rent. This prevents resentment and should be discussed and worked out ahead of time.
Communicate communicate communicate.
A roommate contract may sound ridiculous. The reality is that laying out expectations prior to moving in together can prevent many fights and conflicts before they happen. Being clear and up front from day one is better for the relationship in the long run. Talk with your roommate-to-be about how you will handle visitors and how you will divide up chores. Will you share items or food or will the other persons’ items be off limits? Do you want a roommate who is your best friend and who you spend hours with each day? Or are you looking for someone who is less connected and less interested in a relationship?
You should know ahead of time that there is no better way to destroy a friendship than living together. Why is this? Because friends will take liberties with each other that they normally would not dream of taking with strangers or with people they are less acquainted with. The saying “you only hurt the ones you love” is true and can ruin a strong friendship if you are not careful. Most people have found it is best to live with someone who you are not emotionally attached to.
Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
This Bible verse holds a lot of truth and can be immensely helpful when it comes to the roommate situation. Ultimately, the point is that you should not let little things build up inside of you. Trying to hold them in is like shaking up a bottle rocket, shake, by shake. Eventually it will explode. If something about your roommate’s preferences bothers you, it is best to talk about it immediately. Another psychological tip also comes in handy. When trying to communicate a problem to your roommate, use the “I message”. This means instead of saying “You did not do the dishes,” phrase it as “I was disappointed when I saw the dishes were not done”. Instead of directing blame to your roommate, you are describing what emotions you experienced. This makes your roommate less defensive.
Like water off a duck’s back.
Though it is necessary to communicate your problems clearly, it is also necessary to remember to compromise. Things will not always go perfectly smoothly, but it is vital that you keep a healthy perspective. Sometimes it is not worth the stress of bringing up conflict when you can just as easily let it go. Pick your battles carefully.
As long as you give the right preparation to living with a roommate, it can be a hugely successful experience. It will grow and mature you, and you might even walk away with a new best friend.
Yes, this sounds a little like the advice I would give my children BUT our property management company (Century 21 Beal Leasing) hears about roommate issues all the time. Getting a roommate is not usually as big of a step as going into business with someone or marriage but it is often a near 3rd on the list.