Pretty much everyone lives with a roommate at least once in their life — and whether it happens in a college dorm or your first post-grad apartment, you're likely to have a learning curve when you start living with people who are not your family. That's why it's so important to know lay down some rules to have with your roommates from the beginning of the relationship, because seriously: Nothing is more awkward than having issues with someone you live with. Luckily for us, the awesome community of AskReddit came together and contributed over one thousand helpful suggestions for the most important rules they've established with roommates.
Of course, no one rule is guaranteed to work in every situation or with every personality type. And that's OK! The most important thing is to communicate with your roommates and treat each other (and your property) with respect. Being fair and reliable about money is a big one, too, even beyond the cost of rent and utilities. Oh, and cleaning? Who will clean what, and when, is something you rarely want to leave until the last minute, especially when you think about shared spaces like the kitchen or the bathroom.
The good thing is that all of these potential issues have resolutions. You simply need to sit down and have an honest, respectful conversation about what you're looking for, what your roommates think is fair, and where you can meet in the middle. As with so many things, compromise is the name of the roommate game.
I've selected a handful of the suggestions that struck a particular chord for me, but definitely check out the full thread over at AskReddit, too.
1. Be Considerate About Music From The Start
Even if you think you have the best musical taste in the whole world, it's important to be considerate of the fact that others don't necessarily share your preferences. If you're ready to jam out to your favorite song or album, make sure you get into the habit of putting in headphones first.
2. Trading Household Chores Can Lead To Overall Happier Times
If you want to trade household chores, do it! Just make sure everyone is settled on who does what ahead of time, and don't assume anyone will handle a task just because it's the one you don't want to do.
3. Have Everyone Chip In On Household Items From The Beginning
Make an accountability jar (or mug, in this case) that everyone contributes to on a weekly or monthly basis. It basically guarantees that one person won't be shouldering all of the household costs, and also ensures that you'll actually have a consistently stocked home with cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and other shared necessities.
4. Use Apps To Easily Share Household Expenses
If you and your roommates aren't big on cash, no problem! There are many money sharing apps you can use instead to split expenses.
5. Splurge On A Cleaning Service If Everyone Is Into It
If everyone is comfortable with the expense, look into hiring a cleaning person to come into your home every so often. Definitely discuss this ahead of time, though, and be specific about the frequency and the cost.
6. Stay Organized When You're Taking Care Of Pets
When you're taking care of a pet, it is your responsibility to make sure they're healthy and happy. The pet owner should really be the primary caregiver — nothing is more obnoxious than having to take care of someone else's pet because the owner can't be bothered to do it themselves, not to mention terrible for the pet — but it's also worth making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to feeding, walking, cleaning the litter-box, or what have you.
7. Don't Use The Last Of Someone Else's Item
Even if your roommates are big on sharing, it's generally the better etiquette not to use up the last of someone else's food or drink, especially if it's a favorite item. Don't be that person who dashes someone's dreams of enjoying their very last ice cream bar when they get home from a hard day at work, only to find that it's gone missing.
8. Always Respect Shared Spaces
Whether or not you are a self-proclaimed "neat freak," it's always the better option to respect shared spaces and leave them tidy. Even if a mess doesn't bother you, you don't want to put that clutter on your roommates in a space that belongs to all of you.
9. Remember Your Roommates When You're On Vacation
Don't feel like picking up a present for each of your roommates while you're on vacation? Easy. Just send postcards to the house!
10. Establish Safety Rules From The Start
Depending on the specifics of where you live and what your building is like, establishing safety rules early on is always a good idea. This means that everyone is on the same page, allowing you to be better prepared in case there is an emergency.
11. Cooking For The "Family" Can Be Awesome
While not necessarily a hard and fast "rule," it can be super fun to pick "family dinner" nights where everyone helps cook, clean, buy groceries, and so on for the house. This is also a nice way to have leftovers everyone can share.
12. Encourage Everyone To Remember Their Own House Keys
There are nice ways to go about this, but definitely a establish what to do if someone forgets their keys and is locked out. Send a group text? Is there a spare key hidden somewhere in the porch? Decide early and keep everyone in the know.
13. Figure Out A Creative Way To Handle Piles In The Sink
If the house rules dictate that everyone cleans up after themselves, decide how you're going to respond if someone doesn't. Dishes in the bed are pretty darn gross, but whatever works for all of you is fair game, so long as you all agree on the terms ahead of time. This is definitely not an opportunity to be passive-aggressive and dump someone's used dishes into their laundry hamper without warning, though!
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