In all my years of living with other people and moving to different apartments, I've learned that figuring out how to be a good roommate is hard, especially when you aren’t used to it. First thing's first: When choosing your roommate, remember that the most important thing to consider is how well the two of you will share space. Is one of you chronically messy, while the other is fanatically clean? Is one of you a morning person, while the other likes to have loud parties into the middle of the night? Picking a roommate isn’t the same as picking a friend, and there are certain things you need to agree on to make sure you’ll live well together. There are certain websites that can help you find someone to live with, and give you a chance to get to know them digitally (and ask all the right questions) before you actually meet them in person.
Once you find the perfect person to live with (or, at the very least, one that’s not a complete psycho and won’t eat all of your Oreos), there are certain things you can do to make things go smoothly. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” roommate (or a perfect anything, really), but here are 7 things you can do to be pretty damn close
1. Understand That You Don’t Need To Be Best Friends
Personally, my roommate actually does happen to be my best friend, but for a lot of people that sort of relationship can be really, really overwhelming. Living with someone who you also happen to spend a lot of social time with is a whole lot of together time. Figure out what level of closeness works for the two of you.
2. Share Food
Having two of everything (salt, pepper, olive oil) is wasteful, not to mention unnecessarily expensive. If your roommate wants to use your Sriracha, be cool; it probably means they'll give you some of their Ben and Jerry’s when you really, really need it.
3. Be Aware of Guests Overstaying Their Welcome
There is nothing worse than a roommate with a significant other who simply never leaves. If they’re not paying rent, they shouldn’t be spending every waking minute playing video games your couch. Nor should a couple be constantly snuggling in the living room; that’s what the bedroom if for. Be respectful of how much time your partner is spending in your apartment, especially in your shared space.
4. Split Responsibilities
One person shouldn’t be the one who’s always cleaning the bathroom or paying all the bills. Make sure your annoying grown-up responsibilities are split fairly from the beginning to avoid feeling resentful in the long run. Each person can be in charge of specific chores and specific bills, which is also an easy way to make sure nothing gets forgotten or overlooked.
5. Don’t Be Passive Aggressive
Seriously, guys, we’re adults. Don’t leave a petty note about the unwashed dishes or throw the week-old garbage on their bed (that’s actually happened to someone I know). Man up, tell your roommate to do their chores (you can say it on a text, as long as you say it kindly and directly), and move on.
6. Don’t Steal Their Shampoo
… Or body wash, or face wash, or lotion, or any other beauty products. It’s rude — that stuff is expensive.
7. Remember, It’s The Little Things That Count
Living with someone can be hard, and there are certain easy, little things you can do to show you care about each other and actually like each other. For example, if you know your roommate has a big day coming up, leave him or her a note on the fridge wishing her luck. Or, if you know they've had a really terrible day at work, pick up a bag of his or her favorite snacks on the way home. Trust me, it will do wonders for your relationship.
8. And When All Else Fails...
Initiate a "Douchebag Jar" (thanks, New Girl). One of you has to put a dollar in a jar every time you do something douchey. Set it up, explain the rules, and hope for the best.
And remember — there's no requirement that you have to have roommates, either. Maybe you're just more of a loner, and that's OK too. You can keep all those Oreos to yourself.
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