The truth is, there’s no manual on how to roommate. Living in close quarters with someone else whose personality and habits may be very different from your own takes a certain amount of, shall we say, adjustment. But there are some general guidelines to help keep the peace as you finesse the art of living together.
1. Pay your rent on time.
This one is a no-brainer, but reality is that the rent due date can slip your mind. Unfortunately, that can lead to financial penalties and an upset landlord, which can be a source of strain for everyone in the house. Fortunately, any payment drama can be avoided by setting up an auto-payment on the due date or allocating one person to always write the check.
2. Decide on ground rules.
Do you need 10 minutes to decompress after a hard day’s work by playing video games before talking to anyone? Or do you get upset when the dishes are left in the sink too long? It’s not fair to expect your roomie to pick up on your pet peeves, quirks, and preferences from the get-go. Be adults and have a polite, honest chit-chat early on so you can eliminate problems before they ever arise.
3. If you use it, replace it.
Running out of toilet paper is nobody’s idea of a good time. As soon as you notice the roll running low, just replace it. A little courtesy goes a long way when you are sharing resources, whether it’s TP, coffee grounds, or the communal candy jar.
4. Respect each other’s privacy.
Even though you share your environment, make sure you give your roomie plenty of space. Don’t snoop through your roommate’s things. Do respect his or her boundaries. Bedrooms are best seen as off limits unless invited.
5. Respect their stuff.
Maybe your roommate’s chevron scarf would look great with your outfit, and she’s already left for work. Wouldn’t hurt to borrow it and put it back where you found it, right? Wrong! Always ask first, and don’t ever assume someone’s property is yours to use without permission.
6. Address things when they’re little.
Irritated by your roommate’s hair in the sink? It’s natural to want to keep the peace and brush so-called little things aside. But bottling in your annoyances can lead to larger blow-ups (or a clogged sink). There is nothing wrong with speaking up early, as long as you are respectful and honest with each other.
7. Invest in a bathrobe to avoid awkward moments.
Some sights cannot be unseen. It’s great to feel comfortable in your home. But even if you feel completely at ease with going to the toaster wearing nothing but your fuzzy slippers, cover up. Please. Your roommate will thank you for your modesty.
8. Keep it secure.
It’s scary to come home to an unlocked apartment with no roommate in sight. You should both agree to maintain basic security by keeping the apartment locked when nobody is home. It’s an easy way to protect your belongings and safety.
9. Check first when it comes to overnight guests or parties.
If you plan to have an overnight guest or throw a party, it’s common courtesy to clear it first with your roommate to avoid any surprises. How would you feel if you ran into a stranger at night on your way to the bathroom (and especially if you’re sharing a bathroom)? Or if you came home to an unexpected party when you thought you were going to have a quiet night of reading in store?
10. Passive-aggressive notes are not advised.
Leaving each other passive-aggressive notes is pretty bad form. Granted, they might be funny to other people, but hiding behind notes isn’t cool and isn’t going to endear you to your roommate. So instead of writing snarky notes like “Dishes don’t do themselves,” try talking to your roommate instead.
11. Don’t steal food.
Another classic no-no. Hangry roommates do not make for good roommates. And who could blame them? There’s nothing worse than coming home to an half empty soda bottle or a few crumbs left of a sub that you were dreaming about eating all day. Establish rules of the house for food items. Even better, eat only what you bought yourself.
12. Keep it clean.
Unwashed dishes. Laundry on the floor. Dirty countertops. A slovenly home can quickly lead to arguments. Just remember what your kindergarten teacher told you: if you make a mess, clean it up. No mess, no more fights.
13. Get to know each other out of the house.
We’re not saying that just because you live together you need to be BFFs. Even if you’re more in a polite residential relationship than a bestie relationship, you can still make time for occasional brunches or bowling nights. Shake things up a little and invite him or her out with your friends next time. You could wind up with a new roommate and friend in one!
14. Follow the Golden Rule.
Treat others how you’d like to be treated. It’s a simple concept that everyone can agree on.
15. Make sure you’re protected.
You’ve followed the above tips and you and your roommate are getting along fabulously. But before you settle into domestic bliss, there is one more piece to the puzzle: renters insurance! While your landlord’s insurance policy covers the building, you are responsible for what’s inside your walls. The best way to protect your personal belongings in the event of theft, fire, or water damage is to purchase a renters insurance policy. When you get a quote through the GEICO Insurance Agency, you’ll find the coverage you need and the peace of mind you desire.
By Stephanie Levis