Follow these five steps for cohabitational bliss.
By Nicole Fryer, University of Pittsburgh
Midterms are just around the corner, which means the semester will be over before you realize, and it will be time to start thinking about what you’ll be doing for the following school year.
If you’ve ever lived off campus, you know the struggle of trying to find a decent place to live and roommates to live with you. I’m apartment hunting and roommate searching now since all my roommates are graduating.
If you’re going through the struggle, or soon will be, here are some tips on finding the perfect roommate.
1. Choose Wisely
If you don’t have to (or don’t want to) live with a stranger, don’t. If you have friends, or even acquaintances, looking for a place, see if you can room with them. Moving in with strangers isn’t always a bad thing, but living with someone new can be scary and awkward at first.
The strangers can either become your best friend or your worst enemy, so if you can move in with someone you already know, you can skip the awkward stage and know where you stand.
Of course, moving in with your friends isn’t always the best option either. I have several friends who I love dearly, but we have such different views on certain things that if we lived with each other, we’d be miserable and arguing constantly. I’m more of a neat freak, and they aren’t, so we’d be constantly fighting over the littlest things; seriously, cleanliness among roommates has been one of the biggest issues I’ve had to deal with.
Some of my other friends are more into partying and being social, whereas I am more laid back and prefer to stay at home, and the idea of them coming home late at night, probably drunk, and waking me up, is already giving me a headache.
If you and your friends sound like you’d have a similar situation, I can tell you all the pain and suffering you would go through isn’t worth ruining your friendship, so make sure you know that they’re the person you’d want to live with before you mention the idea of looking for an apartment together (or go to sign a lease together).
2. Stranger Things
If you decide to move in with a stranger or you are forced to do so, get to know them first. My first year of college, I moved in with three random people, and everyone seemed civil over email.
Looking back, I wish we would have texted more personal questions, rather than questions relating to who was bringing what pieces of furniture.
If we would’ve gotten to know each other better, we wouldn’t have had so many issues.
We met up one time before we moved in, so we could sign the lease and try to get to know one another. While the first meeting went great, once we all moved into the apartment, we learned we were completely different people and had different expectations of one another.
I could spend hours telling roommate horror stories of what went on during the nine months we lived together, but, in the end, I became close with two of the three girls, one of whom I now consider one of my closest friends; the third girl I never spoke with again, which I’m totally fine with.
3. Set Rules and Boundaries
Regardless of whom you move in with, make sure you set rules and boundaries immediately. I think the worst mistake I made with my first set of roommates was assuming that we all understood one another without bringing anything up.
After coming home and finding the house trashed, which happened every weekend, and finding one of the girls locked in the bathroom covered in her own vomit (her boyfriend ditched her and left us to clean up the mess), we had a huge fight, and after about a week, the four of us sat down and talked everything out.
During the conversation, we set some ground rules and expectations we had for one another. The rules weren’t always followed, but they made our lives a little easier and made living there a little more enjoyable.
4. Misery Loves Company
An odd piece of advice: Find someone who has gone through a bad roommate experience. Regardless of whether they’re friends or strangers, people who have gone through a bad experience are normally chill roommates, because they’ve had to deal with the bullshit before and don’t want to repeat history.
I moved in with random strangers over the summer for a month, and though we didn’t become close friends, we all had gone through something similar before and had similar expectations of each other.
5. Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t let the idea of having roommates scare you. I know I’ve mentioned some intimidating experiences that can make anyone uneasy, but having roommates does have perks: your rent is cheaper, you can potentially make new friends and you have more people to socialize with.
The three girls I live with now are amazing. I knew one of them beforehand, as she was best friends with one of my former roommates; she had gone through a similar situation as I did, and now we’re the best of friends. The other two girls I had never met before, and I had a rocky start with one of them in the beginning of the school year, but we’re super close now. The other girl and I clicked right away.
We all have a relationship where we can hop in the car and get ice cream, go on a roommate grocery run, have a movie night and binge-watch Netflix, or go buy food and cook a huge dinner for each other, activities I could never do with my previous roommates. I couldn’t ask for better roommates, and hopefully next year you’ll be able to say the same!