Tips To Living With A Roommate

Living with a roommate can also pose challenges when you first adjust to sharing limited space with a stranger. 

To ensure that you have a positive experience, it is vital to establish transparent communication, mutual respect, and boundaries from the start.

Tips For Living with a Roommate

You’re finally starting that new chapter of life when you move away from home and live on your own; at least, almost on your own. For most people starting college or taking a gap year, it’s normal and even expected to live with a roommate. 

Having a roommate can be a thrilling and enriching experience! You have someone to share your experiences with and rely on for support. . You have a built-in buddy to problem-solve with. Living alone can get lonely sometimes, so a great roommate can offer comfort and connection. There are so many emotional, social, and practical benefits of having a roommate.

Still, living with a roommate can also pose challenges when you first adjust to sharing limited space with a stranger. To ensure that you have a positive experience, it is vital to establish transparent communication, mutual respect, and boundaries from the start. In this blog post, we will delve into ten essential tips for creating a healthy relationship with your roommate.

Scenarios where you live with a roommate

Living with a roommate is a common experience, especially during certain times in life. Some of the most common situations that you may have (or want) a roommate include:

  • College: Many college students live with roommates to save money on housing costs and to make friends in a new environment.
  • Early Adulthood: After college, many young adults continue to live with roommates as they start their careers and save money for their own place.
  • Traveling: If you are traveling for an extended period of time, you may opt to share a living space with a roommate to save money and have someone to share the experience with.
  • Relocating: If you are relocating to a new city or town, you may choose to live with a roommate to get to know the area and save money on rent.
  • Gap semester: Traveling abroad during a gap semester or gap year will often include living with roommates, like with the immersive learning prgoram Take Action Lab. Not only do you get to travel to a new place, learn about a new culture, and apprentice with human rights organizations, but you get to share the experience with a cohort of like-minded students from across the globe. This involves living in a shared house with a group of roommates, which can be one of your greatest assets during your travels.

10 Essential Tips to Live with Roommates

No matter what the situation is, living with a roommate or roommates can be a great experience if you approach it with an open mind and a willingness to communicate and respect each other’s boundaries.

1. Begin with Clear Communication

To foster a successful relationship with your roommate, communication is key. You want to set the norms of living together so that everyone feels safe and understands what is required of them to have a healthy living space. Start by discussing each other’s needs, preferences, and expectations with respect and honesty to prevent potential conflicts. 

2. Address Issues Promptly

Conflict is part of the human experience, but it will do more harm than good if you let small issues fester into bigger ones that create resentment and frustration. Deal with small issues as soon as they arise so that they don’t grow into significant problems. Discuss concerns calmly and respectfully to find an amicable solution.

3. Resolve Big Problems Immediately

If there is a big issue or conflict, avoiding or ignoring it is only putting off the inevitable fallout. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable in their living space, so tackle the issue as soon as possible and try to find a solution together. Try not to assign blame; instead, focus on solving the problem.

4. Respect Your Roommate’s Space

Respect each other’s personal belongings and space by always requesting permission before borrowing or using anything that belongs to your roommate. Some people thrive on social interaction and need time around people to feel happy and fulfilled, while others may cherish their personal space and time. Certain roommates may want to keep things separate from others, which is okay! The key is to communicate.

5. Be Considerate About Inviting People Over

Be thoughtful of your roommate’s need for quiet time to relax or study. Discuss any rules about inviting people over and agree on a plan, and then respect that plan. If your apartment or other living space doesn’t have preset quiet hours, it may be wise to set your own quiet hours as a duo or group. Plus, everyone needs to feel like they can be in shared spaces, so make sure no one is taking over a shared space and making it impossible for others to enjoy it, too.

6. Prioritize Safety Together

Protect your belongings and your roommates by locking the doors and windows—make this a team effort! It’s everyone’s responsibility to be safe and keep your home secure, so take measures to ensure the safety of each other’s well-being and property.

7. Don’t Force a Friendship

While being pleasant and friendly may evolve into a deeper friendship, respect each other’s space and don’t feel pressure to become BFFs. Some people may be less interested in being close buddies. With that said, try to be open to the possibility of becoming good friends! Having someone to rely on and trust can be one of your greatest comforts, especially if you are far from home or new to living away from family.

8. Embrace Differences

Some of the best lessons you can learn about yourself, others, and relationships come from learning to live with someone who is not like you. Honor each other’s differences, backgrounds, and perspectives—you may find yourself discovering all kinds of new ideas or habits that you can glean from someone else’s experience. Be receptive to new experiences and learn from each other.

9. Be Adaptable to Change

Change is an inevitable part of life, so expect changes during your time living together and try to embrace the new normal. Especially if you are in college or traveling, not only will your situation change, but so will you and your roommate as you grow and develop as individuals. Be flexible and open to new challenges and aim to grow closer instead of apart.

10. Treat Your Roommate with Respect

It may sound obvious, but it’s the golden rule for a reason: treat your roommate with respect, even during difficult times. This attitude will enable you to build a strong relationship and avoid regret. When everyone respects boundaries and truly respects the other person, it’s a lot easier to give the benefit of the doubt while also holding each other accountable.

Considering a semester abroad?

See how Take Action Lab could align with your goals.

What to Do When You Don’t Get Along

Even with your best efforts, you and your roommate may not always get along. If this happens, consider contacting your RA or other resources on campus for assistance. If you aren’t in a school setting where you have built-in assistance to sort issues out, you may have to be a little more creative. Some best practices to try in these moments include:

  • Getting some distance. Sometimes you just need to cool off and try again later.
  • Seeking advice from a third party. Try and get an unbiased opinion to help resolve conflict.
  • Being honest about what is bothering you. Is it a personal problem you have with the roommate themselves, or is it a behavior or habit that is driving a wedge between the two of you?
  • Avoiding aggressive behavior. At the end of the day, it won’t do anyone any good by being aggressive (or passive-aggressive). Try being tactful but direct about what you feel.
  • Considering formal conflict resolution. It may be worth taking a conflict resolution class or finding some other resource—all meaningful relationships will benefit from this kind of knowledge!

What Resources Take Action Lab Provides for Living with a Roommate

Living with a roommate is a new adventure that, when done well, can cultivate lasting friendships. 

With Take Action Lab, you have the amazing opportunity to travel abroad and meet all kinds of new people, including both the locals of your destination and the incredible students in your group. You’ll get to live in a house together with several students coming from countries all over the world. The uniquely global nature of the student community means that you have the opportunity to learn about many different cultures. Trying new foods, gaining a different perspective, and having enriching conversations with others are just a few of the roommate rewards.

We also recognize that students may experience anxiety when they don’t know what to expect, which is why we prepare you beforehand for living with your roommates. During the 4 weeks before you go abroad, our Foundations course gives the student community the opportunity to learn, prepare, and begin connecting online. And once abroad, there is ongoing support and training to help you have the best experience with others.



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