Living with Roommates – Avoid Conflict and Confrontation

Living with roommates can be tough, but there are so many benefits to it such as saving money. Learn to avoid common roommate problems from the very beginning. See how easy it is to set boundaries and rules so arguments aren’t a problem down the road.

Living with a roommate can be great. You save a little extra cash on bills and rent, but you could also find yourself with a nightmare of a roommate. You win some, you lose some. But, if you know what to expect, can you overcome the cons to enjoy the pros of living with a roommate?

1. Who took it? – Theft. If you have a roommate, you know this happens. They’ll borrow a shirt, spray your perfume, use your computer and eat your string cheese without asking. You may think that these little nuisances won’t bother you, but they’ll add up. The day you find your favorite shirt on the floor with ketchup on it or realize that someone has eaten all of your cookies, will you blow?

How to avoid it:  Set boundaries from the beginning. To avoid theft, decide on what rights you have with each other’s possessions. Can you borrow if you ask? Or, is everything totally off limits?

2. What’s that smell? – Everyone is different, and we’re all attracted to different smells. You understand that. But, what will you do if your roommate’s fragrance makes you break out in hives? Can you handle your roommate cooking their favorite foods? What if it’s sauerkraut or fish?

How to avoid it: If you know that you are allergic to certain smells or foods, let your future roommate know from the start. This way they can avoid awkward scents or cook certain foods when you’re not around. If your stove has a vent hood or windows nearby, make a rule that they must be on or open when cooking smelly foods.

3. Where are all of these people coming from? – Some people are social butterflies and thrive on being surrounded by their 50 closest friends at all times. If loud weekend parties are not your thing and you like to watch primetime TV curled up in your PJ’s on the couch, a party animal roommate will only make your life miserable. Can you live cooped up in your room while your roommate parties in the living room?

How to avoid it: Before you invite someone to live with you, ask them questions about how they spend their free time. Finding someone with similar interests will help you avoid confrontation and uncomfortable situations in the future.

4. When will it be my turn? – Common areas such as the kitchen, living room, patio and bathroom must be shared. You could end up with a roommate that hogs the living room TV or bathroom. Or, what if they always leave the kitchen dirty and you end up cleaning the dishes? Can you deal with sharing?

How to avoid it: If your apartment has only one bathroom, set time limits on it. Instead of hulling up in the bathroom for an hour in the morning, shower and brush your teeth and then move to your room to dry or style your hair, put on make-up or get dressed. If someone uses the kitchen, make it a rule that they have to leave it the way they found it. And, when it comes to the living room, have a TV in your room so you don’t have to miss your favorite shows if your roommate hogs the TV.

With roommates, you have to learn to give and take. Start from the beginning knowing who your roommate is and setting boundaries to avoid confrontation down the road.

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Published in: Apartment Living

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