For college and university students, living away from home can be fun, exciting and filled with possibilities. It can be even more fun and interesting when you’re living with roommates, although, there can sometimes be a transition period when you first start living together and adjust to each other's lifestyles and routines. Fortunately, most difficulties can be overcome when you have established household rules and every roommate takes care of their responsibilities. Good roommates can make moving from home to student housing fun, but there are some things you can do to make the transition and living with others easier. Check it out:
Set Some Ground Rules
Rules are the key to surviving on your own and with roommates. They play a major role in living in a peaceful environment and establishing a healthy relationship with your roommate(s). Have a meeting with your roommate(s) and set some ground rules immediately after moving into your new space. These rules should include:
- Respecting each other’s privacy, e.g. setting rules for entering each other’s rooms, borrowing things or eating others' food, and being quiet during study times, etc.
- Dividing the chores (including cooking) and any bills equally and fairly
- Establishing rules for guests (especially overnight guests) and parties
- Guidelines for using communal spaces, i.e. the living area, kitchen and bathroom(s)
- Setting rules for how grievances should be aired and addressed
Learn Proper Communication
If you don’t know how to communicate well, it doesn’t matter what ground rules you set. Proper communication is essential to fostering good relationships and resolving issues. This is especially true when you’re living with others. However, communication is much more than simply talking. It also includes the method of communication, the approach used, the tone of voice employed, the undertone (or the way words are said), body language and more. When combined, all of these things can help tell others how you’re feeling, as well as how they should behave or react. For example, respectfully airing your grievances and listening to others is the most effective way to resolve issues. In fact, it’s much more effective than leaving notes, taking passive-aggressive actions without explanations, ignoring others or simply allowing the issues to continue.
If you have an issue with a roommate, set aside a time to talk, calmly explain your grievances, and most importantly, tell them how this issue makes you feel. Allowing discomfort to build and aggressively confronting a roommate or taking passive aggressive action could cause undue tension. It could also have severe consequences, making your home environment unbearable for you and others. Remember to:
- Listen as much as you speak
- Learn and seek to understand any cultural, social and personal differences between you and your roommate(s) and how they affect your living situation
- Don’t yell at or belittle others and try to walk away if others do these things to you
- Respect others, their words and their points of view
- Be open and honest
- Don’t talk nastily or disrespectfully about any of your roommates with the others
- Ask and present points for making certain situations better for all parties involved
- Be flexible and compromise where necessary and possible
Get to Know Your Roommates
It’s easier to get along with others when you have a basic understanding of their personality, habits, likes and dislike, etc. However, you can’t gain a basic understanding of your roommates if you don’t get to know them. And getting to know them involves spending some time together. Although college can keep you busy, you shouldn’t neglect spending quality time with others. Fortunately, living with roommates makes quality time more convenient. It also makes it easier to create bonds. And roommate bonds are often special and unique.
So, plan some ‘roomie time.’ You could schedule a movie or game night, plan to go clubbing together, host a party, create a roomie-only study group, attend concerts or school-sponsored events together and so much more. No matter what you do, show the people that you live with that you appreciate them, as well as that you care about connecting with them and learning about who they are.
Of course, not everyone is well suited for living with roommates – and that's okay, too. If you live alone in any furnished bachelor apartment Ottawa has to offer, for instance, you won’t have to worry about roommates or setting ground rules, but the best possible living situation depends on your personality and lifestyle preferences or habits.