You’ve found the perfect apartment. It’s in a great neighborhood, down the street from a park, within walking distance of public transportation and – huge bonus – the dishwasher really works! The only caveat: you’ll be living with a perfect stranger. But don’t worry. You can survive this. People have been doing it since they invented roommates.
Have A Chat
Before you move in, open the lines of communication with your new roommate. Invite him or her for coffee or tea. Keep it casual and friendly as you discuss the details of living together. Here are some of the topics you’ll want to discuss before the big move-in date:
- Cleaning. You two probably have different levels of comfort when it comes to cleanliness. Find a happy medium and discuss how the chores will be divided.
- Food. Will you buy your own foods and keep it separate? Will you share the cooking responsibilities?
- Music. Maybe you like death-metal at maximum volume, and your roommate likes low-volume smooth jazz. Getting this out into the open will help you determine if one – or the both of you – needs to invest in a pair of industrial-strength headphones.
- Common space. Set up expectations for the use of your common spaces: the kitchen, living room, etc. Determine whose furniture will go where.
- Parties. Hopefully you two have compatible tastes when it comes to your social lives, but if not, you’ll need to get it out in the open. Will there be parties? How often? How late will they go?
- Guests. Remember that your apartment is shared space. You both have the right to invite occasional guests, and you both have the right to privacy.
- Schedules. Maybe you’re a morning person and your new roommate is a night owl. Maybe you need the bathroom at 6AM sharp so you can be out of the apartment by 6:45 to be at work on time, and your new roommate absolutely must have control of the television late at night when Adult Swim comes on. Establish this ahead of time for a smooth transition.
- Spending Time Together. Not all roommates become friends. Tell your roommate if you anticipate you’ll be too busy for social interaction, or mention if you think you’d be open to spending time together.
Compromise and Communication
Life with your roommate is not going to be perfect. Once you two are living together, problems will arise. They always do. The best thing you can do is to speak openly about the issues you might be having. Crack a joke or say it with a smile, but don’t let problems fester. Keeping anger bottled up might result in a big fight down the road.
When you do speak with your roommate about problems that have occurred, avoid confrontational words. Keep your tone of voice smooth and calm. And, remember that you're not the only person living in the apartment. You and your roommate have equal rights to the living space.