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How to Live With a Roommate Successfully

October 23, 2020

Arriving on campus for the first time as a college student is a wonderful experience. The opportunities that students have to make new friends and have freedom is exhilarating. For many students, going to college will be the first time they will live with a roommate. Living with roommates is an integral part of the college experience. Roommates can introduce you to new friends, help you with homework, or just be there to watch movies with you and eat ice cream all night. 

However there are challenges to living with roommates as well. The biggest challenges usually have to do with a different tolerance for cleanliness or different school / work schedules between roommates. If your roommates do not mind having dirty dishes piled in the sink and you do then conflicts can arise. Likewise, if you are a night owl and stay up talking to friends all night while your roommates have to wake up early everyday, something will have to change. 

To better understand how roommates can avoid conflict we interviewed current students. Idaho State University student Sadie Matthews had this to say about tips for living with roommates and avoiding conflict, “I think it is important to be open and honest with your roommates. If they leave their belongings all around the apartment, and that upsets you, then you need to tell them in a polite and respectful way. In turn, make sure that your roommates know that if you do something that they don’t like then you want them to tell you and that you will work on fixing it. If you don’t tell your roommates that their actions bother you then how can they ever begin to work on it and change?” She continued, “I think what helped me get along with my roommates was setting some expectations in the first few days we lived together. We sat down after school one night and talked about how we would split up chores and how often we wanted the apartment to be cleaned. We were able to rotate chores pretty well by having one person sweep the kitchen once a week and one person vacuum and so on. Then every week we would switch tasks and since we had a cleaning schedule set up it helped everyone plan their chore into their busy schedules.”

We asked Sean Small, a senior at Idaho State University, what advice he would give to students living with roommates for the first time. Sean replied, “Over the past four years at Idaho State I have lived on and off campus with many different roommates. What has always helped me get along with all of my roommates is just picking up after myself.” He continued, “I never let my dishes pile up in the sink, I always pick up the common area if I make a mess, and most importantly I always tried to be nice to my roommates and invite them to do activities with my friends and I. If you are going to be living with someone for at least a year then you have to really make an effort to get to know them and learn about their interests and hobbies. Several of my past roommates ended up becoming great friends and if I had just avoided them I would have lost out on so many amazing memories. My first roommate actually introduced me to my future wife. Had I not been friends with him I may not have met her.” 

When asked what advice he would give to students living with roommates for the first time, Idaho State University student Jarret Milton had this to say, “Well everyone is different so do not expect your new roommate to be just like you. You might have a roommate that does things that you don’t like but you have to find a way to get along with them.” When asked if he could give an example Jarett said, “I had a roommate that would stay up all night playing video games and yelling while I had a morning class the next day. I asked him if he could be a bit quieter or if we could figure out a solution and we did. We moved his computer into the living room and that was far enough away from me so he didn't keep me up. After that it was much easier to get along with him and we became much more friendly towards each other. Sometimes you just have to get creative and find a solution that will allow you to get along with everyone.”

Living with roommates for the first time can certainly be difficult. But it also can be incredibly rewarding. You never know if your new roommate could turn into your new best friend once you get to know them.