A Comprehensive Guide to Moving in with a Roommate

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So, you’ve found a roommate to move in with. Now, on to the next step – moving in together. When living with a roommate, whether it’s a total stranger or an old friend, there’s always a lingering risk of miscommunication issues and personality conflicts.

Don’t worry, even if you and your roommate have next to nothing in common, you can still create a comfortable living environment by respecting one another and learning to communicate. Just go through our extensive moving-in with a roommate checklist and you’ll find all the tips for roommates you’ll ever need.

Oh, and assisting us are Gillian Tomlinson, a quiet student who spends most of her time in the library, and Nikki Lo, a college lifestyle blogger who has plenty of experience living with roommates. And now, so will you.

Prepare for the Move

Before you pack your first box, sit down and have an open, honest conversation with your future roommate. Be open about what you’d like in an ideal living situation. It can’t all fall perfectly into place, but some things are worth compromising over while others can be real deal-breakers. Be very clear about these. For example, your roommate could simply want a quiet space to relax after work, while you might be searching for a more lively, social atmosphere. In the end, you need to be realistic about what you’re both willing to tolerate.

Do you stay up late? Are you a neat freak or more laid back about cleaning? Talk about all of this and find ways to live together without stepping on each other’s toes. Every one of these details matters and you both should know them in advance.

Now, picking a place to live doesn’t mean you just have to like the look of it. You need to think about money too. Can you both afford it? Be honest about what you can spend and talk about who will pay for what. This is the right time to set clear expectations. In the end, you have to understand each other’s needs, habits and finances.

Establish Ground Rules

Rules aren’t fun, but they are necessary in a shared living space. Misunderstandings can happen easily but clear rules help avoid them. As Lo puts it, “This can definitely be an awkward part of living with roommates, but it’s essential to maintain a healthy and harmonious environment.” She recommends establishing these ground rules either before you move in or right at the beginning of the semester.

You can start by talking about daily tasks. Who does the dishes? Who takes out the trash? It might seem small, but knowing who does what keeps things fair and tension-free. Also, chat about money matters. Decide how you’ll split the rent, utilities and other shared costs.

Privacy is another big topic. Your home is your haven, so make sure you both agree on how to respect each other’s space. Set rules about having guests over. Maybe you’re okay with friends visiting anytime, or perhaps you prefer a heads-up first. Find a balance that works for both of you.

Here are a few more things to discuss:

  • Noise levels: Are you okay with music playing late, or do you need quiet after a certain hour?
  • Smoking: Is it allowed inside, or is it a no-go in your home?
  • Food sharing: Will you split grocery costs, or is it every person for themselves in the kitchen?
  • Cleaning: How will you divide chores? Maybe you can create a schedule.

Remember, the key is compromise and flexibility. You might not see eye to eye on everything and that’s okay. The goal is to find common ground where both of you feel comfortable.

Create a Moving-In Checklist

A moving-in checklist ensures you have everything you need, while also helping you start off on the right foot in your new place with a roommate. A tip from Lo: “Before I first moved, I did tons of research on Google and Pinterest on what you should have in a college apartment and made my own list from that.”

Now, you can do the same or find a premade list online if you’re pressed for time. Here’s a basic checklist for moving in with roommates to get you started:

  • Furniture: Decide what each of you will bring. Maybe you have a couch, and your roommate has a dining table. Talk about it to avoid ending up with two of everything.
  • Kitchen supplies: Everybody needs pots, pans, plates, glasses and utensils. just coordinate with your roommate to split these items. And don’t forget about small appliances like a microwave or a toaster.
  • Bathroom essentials: Towels and a shower curtain are must-haves. Discuss who brings what or if you are going to buy them together and split the costs. Also, think about storage for personal items to keep the bathroom organized.
  • Personal items: Bring your own bedding, clothes and personal toiletries.
  • Self-Storage: Have more stuff between you and nowhere to put it? Consider renting a storage unit near your new home.

Last but not least, plan how you’ll handle joint costs like groceries, cleaning supplies and any shared subscriptions or services.

A smart move is doing a walkthrough of your new place with your roommate. This helps you visualize and divide the space. You can decide who gets which shelf in the bathroom or where to put the shared TV. This way, when moving day comes, you both know exactly where everything goes.

Tips for Smooth Coexistence

Living smoothly with a roommate comes down to respect, understanding and good communication. These seemingly “just nice” ideas are essential for creating a positive, shared living space.

Let’s take Lo’s experience, for example. In her sophomore year, she had a roommate who liked the room warmer than she did. This was more than a comfort issue. “I have heat-triggered migraines and a cat who I wanted to make sure didn’t get overheated,” Lo explained. She texted her roommate to discuss a middle ground for the thermostat setting. Through conversation, they found out that the other roommate’s room was poorly insulated. Understanding each other’s needs led to a compromise that worked for everyone.

Despite using text messages in this situation, Lo highly recommends talking in person about conflicts whenever possible. If that’s not in the cards, “a text is certainly better than not talking about the issue at all,” she added. She also suggested that if you live with a group of people, you could send a text in your roommate group chat (you have one of those, right?) if texting someone directly is still too uncomfortable. “This way, you’re not directly calling anyone out but you’re also not ignoring the issue,” she said.

You should also be mindful of how you communicate. “When you approach your roommate about a conflict, keep a calm, kind and non-accusatory tone,” Lo said. This approach is more likely to be met with a positive response, even if the issue is the other person’s fault.

Now, here’s how you can apply these insights:

  • Talk about things that bother you. Don’t let small annoyances build up into big problems.
  • Really listen to your roommate’s side of the story. This can lead to better understanding and compromise.
  • When disagreements happen, address them calmly. Look for solutions that meet both of your needs.
  • Find ways to accommodate each other’s habits and preferences.

Extra tip: Make decisions together on how to use and decorate shared areas. This makes the space comfortable for both of you.

How to Manage Finances Together

Handling money matters with a roommate can be a headache but it doesn’t have to be one. It all boils down to clear communication (again, yes) and a tiny bit of organization. We’ve said and we’ll say it again: Being upfront about finances prevents surprises later on.

First things first, decide how you’ll split the rent. Will it be 50/50, or based on room size? Also, figure out whose name the bills will go under. This includes electricity, internet and other utilities. Then, talk about how you’ll track and share these expenses. Some apps can help with this, or you can go old-school with a shared spreadsheet.

Tomlinson shares a light-hearted take on the money matter. “I don’t have any experience with shared finances, unless you count the same $20 my roommate and I Venmo back and forth for groceries.” Funny as it is, this shows that even small, recurring costs can be managed easily with a simple system. Just decide how you’ll keep track of everyday expenses like toilet paper, cleaning supplies or dish soap. Maybe you take turns buying, or pool money in a shared jar, why not?

A few quick tips before moving on:

  • Be transparent about your budget. Let your roommate know what you can comfortably afford.
  • Regularly check in on expenses. This avoids any end-of-the-month surprises.
  • Keep receipts or notes, so you both know what’s been spent.

Shared and Personal Spaces

Ah, to balance shared and personal spaces with a roommate… That’s key to a happy living situation but how do you reach it?

Firstly, create clear boundaries in shared spaces. This could mean setting specific areas for each person’s items or agreeing on certain times for shared activities. Next, discuss preferences for guests and social activities. Maybe set some ground rules for when and how often guests can visit. This way, you can both feel comfortable in your shared home.

Pro tip: An easy way to feel at home is to ensure both personalities are represented in your space. Maybe have a shared area where each of you can display personal items or decorations. This way, the space feels like it belongs to both of you.

How to navigate different lifestyles

Yes, living with someone means adapting to different lifestyles and schedules. Now, many student housing systems will have a roommate matching system like StarRez. “Answer these as honestly as you can so you’re able to find roommates you’re compatible with,” Lo stressed. And this advice isn’t just for students; it’s useful for anyone sharing a living space.

A few quick tips:

  • Respect quiet hours, especially if your schedules differ.
  • Share and agree on the use of common areas for work or relaxation.
  • Celebrate the differences. Different lifestyles can mean learning and growing from each other.

And an extra tip from Tomlinson: “Sometimes you may feel pressure to be ‘best friends’ with your roommate, which is not always the case,” she said. “Your roommate just needs to be someone you get along with and live well with, there should be no pressure for this person to become a best friend.” Yup, that helps to acknowledge.

Moving in With Roommates Checklist – Checked

You’re now armed with all the know-how for smooth living with a roommate. Which can mostly be reduced to open communication and mutual respect. We can’t stress that enough, because these buzzwords are the secret to a happy shared home, they truly are.

So, talk openly about everything from personal habits to finances and set clear ground rules for personal and shared spaces from day one. Take a deep breath and embrace compromise and understanding, especially when lifestyles differ. Most importantly, respect each other’s boundaries.

Whether you’re sharing your space with a lifelong friend or someone new, these tips for roommates can turn any co-living situation into a positive experience. Now, it’s your turn to make it happen.

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