Successfully living with a roommate requires clear communication and mutual respect. If you ever had a roommate, you already know how important it is to set ground rules from the very beginning. Certainly, roommates can share a lot in common and enrich each other’s life. At the very least, they can respect each other while living under the same roof. In this blog post, we will talk about how to approach setting ground rules with your roommate.


Step 1: Get to Know Your Roommate

Getting to know your future roommate is an important first step in your relationship. For example, I’ve heard a story where a very diligent student who doesn’t generally go out ended up with a dorm roommate, who was partying and having friends over every night. Needless to say, that wasn’t a good match for both of them. Even though you might not share the same habits, interests, and schedules with your roommate(s), you can still agree to respect the ground rules that you set together.

How do you go about getting to know your roommate in the first place? Here is one way to do that. Wake Forest University put together a Roommate Agreement Workbook to simplify this process for prospective roommates. This helpful document covers many important areas of life – from visitation and guests, to personal property and personal habits, and to study time and quite time. Invite your future roommate for a coffee or lunch and offer them to fill out this workbook together. Discussing your answers together will help you start getting acquainted. After going over each item, you will naturally be able to identify the items that matter most to each of you and create a list of rules that each of you agrees to follow.

Step 2: Setting Ground Rules

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As people live together for a prolonged period of time, these issues inevitably tend to come up. However, by clarifying important rules and responsibilities, each of you will have a chance to express your expectations and non-negotiables. Discussing these questions together will give you peace of mind later and provide a firm foundation for success in other areas of your life.

Important Questions to Discuss with Your Roommate

Here are some important questions to discuss:

  1. Do you need a shared budget? How much does each person need to contribute for shared household items, such as cleaning supplies, garbage bags, toilet paper, salt and pepper, and any other shared food items (for example, coffee, tea, milk, and sugar). Who is going to be responsible for buying these items? How often? You can use one of the money sharing apps to keep track of your shared expenses and for making payments to each other. [link]
  2. When should everyone pay their portion of the rent and utilities? Who is responsible for making these payments?
  3. What are the cleaning rules for kitchen and common areas? Who cleans what and how often?
  4. What time do you want to keep the noise down?
  5. What about guest rules? Can they spend the night? Should you let each other know if you are planning a party? How well in advance?
  6. Do you want to establish a weekly roommate meeting to address any questions or concerns?

In the article  “13 Essential Rules to Have With Your Roommate, According to Reddit,” Marissa Higgins sums up the most important rules people have established with their roommates according to Reddit community. You might find some inspiration in this list.

Final Tips for Living with a Roommate

Finally, here are a few tips for living with a roommate:

  • Once the ground rules are established, be flexible with each other and treat the other like you want to be treated yourself.
  • Keep a document in Google Docs or Dropbox with a list of shared items that are currently needed in the house. Everyone can update this list from their computer, and one person can be designated to buy these items each week or every other week.
  • Conflicts are inevitable when living together. However, clear communication and mutual respect will help you to successfully resolve any disagreement.
  • Remember, living with a roommate can be a lot of fun! You can cook meals for each other, watch movies together, have board game nights, and plan other activities together.

Share your own tips on how to successfully live with a roommate in the comments below!

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