Rooming with a friend can bring you closer together or push you apart forever--it all depends on how well you plan and communicate beforehand, then how well the both of you keep to your commitments. The same conditions apply to rooming with a complete stranger, but without any of the initial familiarity. Increase your odds of mutual success by interviewing potential roommates beforehand and drawing up, then signing, a simple code of conduct that you’re all willing to agree to.
Willing to Communicate
Look for someone that’s willing to communicate and work toward compromise, even in the midst of active conflict. Sara Lawrence College recommends maintaining an air of respect and direct communication 1. Drawing up the rules of conduct is a good first test. If your roommate isn't willing to participate, he's making it clear he won't participate in compromise or conflict resolution down the road, either.
Rooming together requires a certain amount of accountability for each roommate. You’re going to be sharing not just living space but chores and bills, too. You may have very different ways of managing your responsibilities, so make an agreement as to how you will get them done. Once you’ve made an agreement, you and your roommate should handle your respective parts of the work.
Your roommate will inevitably have access to many of your belongings. Rooming with someone you don't feel will care for your things can be stressful, and living with someone you think might steal from you is even worse. You may have differing opinions on what it means to borrow carefully or to respect each others’ time and space. Work out what sort of borrowing and privacy arrangements you’re comfortable with before moving in together.
Look for a roommate who has a similar idea of what it means to be safe 3. This includes things such as closing windows and locking doors, both when you’re at home and away. This agreement can also include whether or not you need to ask permission from each other before inviting others in, and whether or not overnight guests are allowed.
Compatible Living Habits
You and your roommate won’t get far without compatible living patterns. You don’t have to have the exact same pattern, such as getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time. However, you do have to be willing to put up with each other’s differences over the long term. Some common conflicts to look out for include one roommate being a study nut while the other is a party animal or whether or not smoking or drinking will be allowed in or around the apartment 3.
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