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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

student life

How to deal with roommates whether they are your bestie or a stranger 


Planning your living situation a year in advance is truly a humbling experience. Knowing where you are going to live is what appears to be the hard part, but that is only half the battle. It’s what you think is the easy decision — choosing your roommates —that can make your home life feel like either a war zone or a cool hang.  

I’ve had four different living arrangements in my four years at IU. I’ve lived through the good, the bad and the weird of roommates — and the same with living alone. 

So, here are a few tips from a seasoned professional on how to make sure you and your roommates don’t strangle each other two months into your 12-month lease: 

Talking is hard but necessary 

The biggest mistake I made early on in college was not talking to my roommate sooner about what bothered me — both big and small stuff. The little things that annoy you are just that, but when you let them persist day after day without talking about it, it bubbles up. 

That’s the thing with living with friends: you might overlook the things that bother you at first to avoid having that conversation. However, it is better in the long run to have the two-minute conversation than to have a five-week blowup argument months later. That small conversation helps set boundaries and remind your friend that you coinhabit the same space as them.  

You need space 

Space doesn’t always mean square feet in your bedroom. It also means having personal time devoid of others or just with people you want to be with. We all need that time. However, you or your roommates might not realize when you do.  

So how do you convey to the other you just need to have some time to yourself? You can close your bedroom door or put on headphones. The easy way is to just tell your roommates that you’ve had a day, and it’s best to take some time for yourself. 

Space also means getting out of the house or the apartment. Especially if you live alone, you need to get out of your house — find common areas, go for a walk and hang out at your friend’s house. When I lived alone for over a year, I explored downtown and spent a lot of time with friends. 

Set your boundaries 

Whether you are living with a stranger or with your best friend since preschool, you will need a roommate contract. No, you don’t have to write out who is going to do the dishes and what the protocol is for guests. Just state your boundaries, talk about your habits and don’t assume anything. 

If piling dirty dishes and late-night studying are your things, tell your roommate. Even if you are compatible as friends, it does not mean the same will be true as roommates. Unless the person is totally unreasonable and gets mad, you will have a quaint conversation about your habits and expectations. If your roommate reacts poorly, maybe you shouldn’t live with them.  

Of course, all of this is better to do before you sign your rental agreement or even before you move in. However, if the situation turns sour, I recommend talking to your rental company. They may be able to help you if you want to take a larger step.

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