Living with other people can get kind of prickly. However, for most of us, it's a definite financial necessity, which means having a few key organizational hacks up our sleeves to make living with roommates better kind of has the power to revolutionize our lives.
I'm personally a roommate connoisseur; while I currently live with two other people, I at one time lived with a whopping five (five!) others in a three-bedroom apartment. Needless to say, there were some definite space-negotiation skills needed, as well as a lot of delineation of shelves, drawers, and cabinets. We found that if we didn't create organizational systems and stick to them, mayhem and resentment inevitably ensued.
And even now that I live with significantly fewer people, keeping things organized when you have three times the shoes, shampoo bottles, and sometimes even basic kitchen supplies can pose a challenge.
If you're about to move in with roommates for the first time, or are just at your wit's end with your current living situation, here are eight organizational hacks that should help you cope when living with roommates.
This is a tip I got from a living-with-roommates compilation piece on Deciost, and my God do I wish I had thought of this years ago. The thing about living with multiple people is you get multiple people's mail (and junk mail), and it piles up extremely fast. Keep cute boxes for each roommate by your front door so that whoever comes in with the daily mail can quickly sort it into a box. That way nothing gets lost and paper clutter is contained.
The Decoist also recommended keeping bathroom clutter contained by having shower caddies for each roommate, and I personally can't recommend this enough. Even if you only live with one other person, you suddenly have twice the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors, loofas, and whatever else taking up space in your shower. Keeping each person's belongings in a unified compartment makes the space look nicer — not to mention makes the bathroom way easier to clean.
3. Venmo Is Your Best Friend. Seriously.
Venmo is quite possibly the single greatest invention for roommates in the history of time. Instead of trying to keep track of all the little odds and ends you buy for the house and asking your roommates for the total at the end of the month, or worse, loosing track, not asking, and feeling quietly resentful, just send a quick money request out to your roommates every time you buy something that you all will be using. Just make sure you're all on the same page that this will be your roommate process, and then no one will ever end up contributing more or less than their fair share for things like hand soap and toilet paper.
A compilation piece for Houzz recommended always opting for multi-purpose furniture with extra storage space when living with roommates, as you will definitely find yourself needing it with so many people's stuff under one roof. Think about benches with hidden storage space, or coffee tables with shelves.
This is a personal tip that I've figured out from years of cluttered entryways. Multiple people living in one space means your entryway will soon become a disorganized pile of footwear if you don't have a super easy and convenient place for all your various shoes to go. Trust me — even if you create a "no shoes in the entryway" rule it will eventually be broken, so you're best bet is merely controlling the chaos.
6. Delineate Fridge Space
One of the areas where sharing a living space can get most tense is the fridge. Inevitably someone will use someone else's milk, or a roommate will go WAY too long before cleaning out something perishable. This being the case, it just makes life easier to delineate shelves for each person. And I know — it doesn't exactly feel like the friendliest, most communal way to live, but when you have several different people buying food with several different bank accounts, it will create the least tension overall.
This tip leap frogs off my last one — if you can, assign cabinets to each roommate so that each person is always aware of what they have, and so that no one can ever accidentally take from someone else. And if you'd like, there can also be a communal cabinet for things like spices or baking goods, but it definitely isn't necessary if you think it will just create problems.
8. Schedule Group Cleanups
And finally, my last tip is to schedule regular group cleaning sessions. In my experience, chore charts are one of those things that sound great in theory, but ultimately just create resentment (i.e: "I never leave dishes in the sink, and yet when it's my week to do dishes I'm spending an hour scrubbing pots!") I've found that the most practical and manageable solution is to schedule a regular cleanup session with your roommies where everyone takes care of their clutter and various big things cleaned, like sanitizing the bathroom or vacuuming the living room. This means things get cleaned fairly regularly, and no one ever feels like they do the bulk of the work.
Navigating living with roommates can be tough — especially because not everyone has the same standards of cleanliness and organization. It's why it's super important to put a few systems in place from the get-go, as well as to utilize a few (sustainable) organizational hacks.
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