If you’re looking to save money on monthly rent and utilities, you’ll definitely want to consider a roomie. But when you agree to live with someone else, you have to be prepared to deal with the challenges that can often come along with that decision.
Living with another person is challenging and no roommate is perfect. In fact, according to a Rent.com survey, 45% of renters admitted to having pet peeves with a current or past roommate.
During my college years, I had the privilege of living with three girls, one of whom was my best friend. The other two were simply girls who needed a place to live for the last two semesters of school. I figured, how bad could it be? As it turned out, bad. It could be bad.
One girl (we’ll call her Danielle) put her waffles in the oven, nearly causing a fire, and used her blender EVERY morning at 6 a.m. The other girl, who we’ll call Sam, had a Chihuahua who ran willy-nilly through the apartment when she wasn’t home. I stepped barefoot in that dog’s poop way more times than I care to admit.
And let’s not forget that both of these girls were extremely unfamiliar with the term “cleanliness.” I swear, Sam’s bowl of rice sat on the counter for a month. And my roommate and I nicknamed Danielle “Cookie Monster” because she would consistently steal all of our sweets (don’t mess with my desserts).
I could go on, but I’ll save you the agony. My point is, I have become very familiar with roommate problems and what it takes to live in peace, so I’m here to share my insight on how to deal with the top three roommate complaints.
1. Dealing with a Messy Roomie
I can’t even tell you how many times I politely asked my roommate to clean her dirty dishes or wipe down the counters–and I’m not alone. Rent.com’s survey found a lack of cleanliness to be the #1 roommate complaint.
Consider designating certain cleaning tasks to different roomies. You all can switch off duties each week so the same person doesn’t get left cleaning the toilet every time. Post the schedule up on the fridge so it can be easily seen by everyone.
When you first make the schedule, your roomies may need a few gentle reminders, but they should start to get the hang of it after a few weeks, so don’t lose hope.
2. Dealing with a Financial Delinquent Roomie
It can be a pain to constantly bug your roomie to pay for their half of the rent. Figuring out a payment method early on can prevent this from happening. Decide together how the bills will be paid.
For example, my current roommate and I decided that I would electronically send him my half of the rent, and then he delivers the rent check to the landlord’s mailbox. Each month, we don’t have to constantly remind each other about bills and who is going to pay for what.
3. Dealing with a Roomie with No Boundaries
When you cohabitate with someone, there needs to be boundaries. Make it clear that it’s OK for your roomie to borrow your clothes, but only if she asks you first. You can also set boundaries with your food to make sure that nothing gets taken without your permission.
Designate different shelves for each roommate so everyone gets their own space. Set expectations early on. When there are boundaries put in place, it’s less likely that your roommates will cross them.
Remember to Communicate
Just like in relationships, communication is key. How is your roomie supposed to know that you’re annoyed if you didn’t tell her? Sure, she could probably pick up on your passive aggressiveness, but it’s much easier to just speak up (take it from me). When the issue is out in the open, it can be dealt with.
Keep in mind that communicating doesn’t have to mean arguing. There are ways of bringing up issues without placing blame on one particular person. Calmly bring up what’s bothering you, and offer up a few solutions.
Give Respect to Get Respect
You may not love your roomie, but you should always respect them. Treat them the way that you would like to be treated (even if they don’t deserve it sometimes). If they’re on the phone, maybe turn the TV down a little bit, or give them their space when they have a significant other over. Chances are, they’ll return that level of respect.
Deal with It
There are going to be certain things your roommate does that drive you absolutely nuts, but sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about it. For instance, maybe your roomie can’t chew with her mouth closed, or she watches terrible reality TV shows.
Sure, these things might be annoying, but it’s better to just take a deep breath and not let it bother you. Otherwise, they will pile up and make your roommate situation seem worse than it is.