How To Be A Great Roommate

Readers, I’m sure we’ve all had roommates that we don’t entirely understand or enjoy sharing a living space with.  Some of you may be so lucky to not have a “bad roommate” story.  I have yet to have a good roommate experience.  Does this mean that I am the problem? Or, do I just have bad luck?

I am incredibly introverted and independent.  I can sit in silence for days and I am meticulous when I work.  If you ask me why I’ve been on my laptop for hours on end, it’s because I’m editing a story, writing a script, or reading something that probably pertains to something that I’m writing. (This completely excludes Portlandia marathons.)  Because of my focus on perfecting my writing, I don’t say much, and I always have headphones in.

For all those who are roommates out there, are heading into the world and moving in with a stranger, or want to make home life easier, read onward!

Have an idea of when sleeping happens. Every time I’ve filled out a roommates contract, I tend to roll my eyes at this statement.  Sleeping happens at night? Sure, but some people will actually go to bed at 9 and some people wait until early hours of the morning before they even think to wind down.  My current problem is that my roommate and I are on two different clocks.  She usually doesn’t go to sleep until roughly 2 AM, and I start my journey to slumber around 11 PM, which doesn’t typically end until, you got it, 2 AM.

Communication has to be open on this topic.  Sleep is really important. This is your living space, and no one is entitled to create an unfair environment so that one party can’t sleep.  This is where I lack the ability to fix the problem.  I can’t sleep, but I won’t confront my roommate so that she knows I can’t sleep.

What conditions can you sleep in? I have never been able to sleep if there’s music playing.  I want to sing along too badly.  I can’t sleep if the lights are on, or if there’s much noise.  I like a cooler environment.  I go to sleep around 11 and wake up around 8.  That is a fairly general statement on what I will tell roommates in the future.

If you know your roommate can’t sleep with the lights on, invest in a desk lamp.  They’re $15 at Target, and you won’t have to leave the room to get work done!  If you know your roommate likes to sleep in silence, there is a magical invention called headphones.  You can still blare some Beyoncé while your friend dreams away.  Take into consideration what makes your roommate comfortable, and compromise!

My roommate and I set a rule that at 1 AM, we are done talking on the phone/skyping.  Headphones go in and lights go off.  This was the original decision.  That has since changed.

Rules apply to both parties. Don’t tell your roommate she can’t talk on the phone past 1 in the morning if you get to talk on your phone regardless of the hour.  Don’t tell her that she has to have the lights off when you’re asleep, yet you get to keep them on late at night.  I’m just saying, all rules apply to everyone in the room/house.

Common courtesy takes you far! At some point, the rules stop and basic manners come into play.  If you are old enough to have a roommate, you are old enough to know how to respect sharing space with another being.  If someone is asleep, it is common sense to be quiet.  You don’t touch your roommates things without permission.  You would think this wouldn’t need to be said, but some people are unaware.

Communicate regularly. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate.  You don’t have to spend time with them outside of the room.  But you do have to talk with them every once in a while.  If you have any concerns, questions, or anything, let them know.  My roommate and I went through a 3-week period that we didn’t say a word to each other, because we both thought the other was mad.  We didn’t bother asking, so we went silent.  It was weird, and awkward, and although we aren’t best friends, having our line of communication open again, has released so much unnecessary tension.

To conclude: 

Having a roommate is a big deal.  Whether you share a house, apartment, room, or whatever, you have to make some basic rules and have a general understanding of each other.  As a college student, the most important discussions revolve around my sleep habits, because I’m easily deprived of that.  Sharing a 25X20 blue dorm room isn’t the easiest thing in the world.  We get on each others nerves, but there are so many things that can be done to prevent the hair-puling catfights we watch in the movies.  Keep your communication with each other clear, and don’t be afraid to share concerns and questions with your roommate!


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