Rules for roommates

Making the leap from a structured family living to living on your own in college does not necessarily mean the rulebook goes out the window. If anything, developing a rulebook with that first roommate early on could be the key to a prosperous living arrangement.

First, it’s important to know who you’re going to be dealing with on a daily basis.

If you’ll be living with assigned roommates, contact them as soon as their information becomes available so you can get to know them as much as possible before move-in day.

Talk about your preferences from the start. Do you like complete silence when you study, or do you prefer to listen to music? How loud do you like to listen to your music? What time do you usually go to bed? Do you like to sleep in on the weekends? Do either of you need complete silence when working on homework assignments? Make sure that all rules are set from the very beginning and are clear and understood by both parties in order to avoid any disputes that could arise in the future.

If you’ll be rooming with a friend, it still wouldn’t hurt to have this discussion; although you may know each other well, chances are you have never actually lived together.

Once move-in day comes, you’ll have to establish some boundaries with your roommate, and it’s better to start sooner rather than later. Sit down together on that first day with a pen and paper to outline some rules that will help make living with each other as pleasant as possible.

It’s a good idea to swap class schedules so you know who has to get up early or who might be coming home later during the evening.

It’s also helpful to create some kind of policy about visitors. Establish a plan to let one another know ahead of time when someone is coming and how long the guest is staying so everyone can plan.

Another issue you’ll want to address is room upkeep, because you’re going to be responsible for cleaning a shared living space. Work out a cleaning schedule so nobody gets stuck doing all the chores. Once you’ve recorded some rules and boundaries, print some copies and post them in the room as a reminder for you and your roommate. If you feel the rules need to be modified, don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you’re living with a friend.

One thing that can complicate any living situation is lack of communication. Your roommate can’t read your mind, so you have to tell them what’s bothering you. Communicating is being respectful with one another, not criticising each other. Communication also involves praise and compliments; so be sure to give each other positive feedback as well.

You both have different likes and dislikes and you must learn to blend both of your lifestyles together to create a comfortable living situation. Compromise does not mean giving in to someone, or arguing about a situation, but rather coming to an agreement together in which you both agree to the terms. — Emily Stewart and Melissa Borowski