Ten tips to establish a good relationship with your roommate

Sharing a space is no small feat. From bills to roommate agreements, we asked former college students how they maneuvered living with roommates.


Let’s face it, at the end of a long day on campus, you want your dorm or apartment to be an oasis — a place you can decompress, relax, and soak up some peace and quiet.

In fact, according to Michigan State University, more than 40% of students consider dropping out of college due to shared living space turmoil. Yikes!

But establishing some boundaries can go a long way toward keeping the peace when it comes to splitting everything from a gallon of milk to finances. With the below tips from recent graduates, managing the ups and downs of roommate life will be a far cry from rocket science.

Establish boundaries from the get-go

Personal space is a crucial component to living with people — whether they’re friends, family, or strangers. Establishing rules when it comes to things like entering bedrooms and borrowing clothes without permission allows you to feel more comfortable in your own home.
–  Lane, Virginia Commonwealth University, class of 2010

Put everything in writing

Life happens, but you don’t want to be responsible for your roommate’s half of the rent, utilities, etc. Keeping everyone legally accountable is only fair.
–  Tori, Indiana University, class of 2015

Elect the most responsible person to pay bills

Personally, I preferred having all the utilities in my name. It gave me peace of mind that the bills would always be paid on time. I just asked all my roommates to reimburse me after we’d split the total evenly.
–  Mariah, Notre Dame University, class of 2015

Confront conflict head-on

As silly as it sounds, having “family dinners” every week helped me and my roommates lower any tension that had arisen between us. If there was conflict, we’d talk it through instead of letting it simmer.
–  Elijah, Trevecca Nazarene University, class of 2016

Never go 50/50 when buying apartment essentials

When purchasing large necessities for a dorm or apartment, don’t split the cost of an item. Assign one person to buy a couch, one person to buy a dining table, etc. That way when you move out, you aren’t arguing over who gets what.
–  Monika, Liberty University, class of 2016

Make cleaning a team effort

I recommend implementing the “cleaning power hour,” where once a week for an hour, you and your roommates deep clean the common areas. Blasting loud music and ordering pizza makes it all the more fun.
–  Maddy, University of Alberta, Canada, class of 2017

Understand your roommate’s lifestyle

Upon move-in, swap class schedules and come to an understanding about “quiet hours.” College students rarely function on a consistent schedule but being courteous in the wee hours is a no-brainer. Relationship strain between the night owl and the early bird may be inevitable, but it’s certainly manageable.
–  Jessie, University of New Mexico, class of 2017

Avoid sharing food

Food is like money, everyone needs it, but nobody wants to share it. Designating personal shelves in the fridge and pantry allow all the roommates to avoid unwanted bickering matches over who ate the last package of Ramen.
–  Amy, University of Kansas, class of 2015

Lock up

College apartment complexes are often swarming with visitors, and nothing is worse than a stolen laptop or a stolen TV that you can’t afford to replace. Get in the habit of locking the front door to ensure everyone’s safety and to keep your personal belongings out of someone’s greedy grasp.
–  Alex, Ball State University, class of 2018

Actually be friends!

Don’t try to avoid your roommate if you don’t get along at first. You don’t have to do everything together, but establishing a solid friendship with and mutual respect for your roommate is the easiest route to a happy living situation.
–  Deyonte, University of Arkansas, class of 2012

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