How is it that a roommate can be your best friend and your worst enemy, all within the same day? They'll annoy you when they forget to buy dish soap, but then let you borrow their mascara. I've had roommates that will be in my life forever and then I've had roommates that I forgot the second I moved out. So, how do you deal with the bad and good parts of having a roommate?
The number of Americans living with roommates has been drastically increasing. Back in 2002, only 25.4 percent of Americans lived with roommates. Fast forward to 2012 and that number had jumped to 32 percent. In expensive cities, the numbers are much higher with 48 percent of those living in Los Angeles and 42 percent of New Yorkers having roommates.
With so many people living with roommates, it's common to hear, or experience, the struggles associated with it. While there are many reasons tension can form between roommates, a common source of frustration with roommates is dealing with money. Money coach Ashley Feinstein Gerstley suggests setting a schedule of when to discuss outstanding balances. This gives you a way to bring up what is owed at agreed upon times. "Have a monthly, or even quarterly, check in. Creating the space to bring up roomie money conversations makes it that much easier," she says. "If you have even a five-minute check in you can double check that rent got paid, decide who's getting the toilet paper."
Sometimes the issue isn't that your roommate isn't paying the bills, but that you are struggling to and want to figure out a way to minimize costs. This can be an equally hard conversation but is extremely necessary to keep your finances in check. "If there's an issue or worry you have about money, it's important to share what's stressing you out but it's even more important to share why," Feinstein Gerstley says. "Yes, you might be upset because you think you're paying more than your fair share but also include how that affects your money goals. Are you trying to pay off student loans, really want to take a vacation or insert goal here." It's all about planning for your goals.
Check out the entire ‘Young Money’ series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Being honest about where you are financially gives your roommate the opportunity to share something they may have been holding back. Then, when you've resolved everything — or at least as much as you can — celebrate a job well done. "These are tough conversations to have no matter how good we get at them," she says. "Wrap up with a celebration. Toast with a glass of bubbly, watch your favorite movie together or go out for something fun. You deserve it!"
It's all about give and take while trying to create a space you like being in. Just like how a bad job teaches you as much about what you want next as a good one, I think the same is true for roommates. Each roommate situation helps us grow and determine what we are looking for in those around us. Here's what millennials say are the best and worst parts of having a roommate.
1. Rachel, 28
"I think the best thing about having a roommate is someone to talk to. Even if you are from different walks of life or having different experiences, when you live with someone, you both are going to have ups and downs and chances are will have to lean on each other and learn and grow together while figuring out this whole adult thing. The worst thing about having a roommate is two fold for me: if someone eats my food! Or if someone isn't doing their share to clean up and keep dishes out of the sink."
2. Gabby, 21
"The best thing about having a roommate is someone is always there to talk to when you're bored, it's like having a built in friend. The worst thing is that someone is always there...especially when they're an athlete and have different sleep schedules.. and they might not like it when you get a turtle..."
3. Sarah, 29
“Best thing is being able to use each other’s mobile hotspots because we’re two broke New Yorkers and don’t have WiFi. Worst thing is having to keep our bedroom door closed in the middle of July when the other has 'someone special' over. We only have one AC unit and it’s in the kitchen.”
4. Cassie, 22
"Living with roommates was an integral part of my college experience. I made lifelong friends with some of my roommates, along with an endless supply of fond memories. I loved having friends to come home to, and always having someone around to hang out with, vent to, or just silently be there so I didn't feel lonely. But as with everything, there were definitely some downsides of roommates as well. Having roommates that didn't clean up after themselves, were disruptive when I needed to focus (or sleep!), or failing to pitch in when it came to tasks like taking out the trash or buying communal supplies became annoying stressors in home life. As frustrating as living with roommates can be, I'm happy to have met some great people and don't plan on living on my own anytime soon."
5. Alissa, 22
"The best part of having a roommate is always having company. The worst part is when people don't pay for their share of things everyone uses like paper towels and you have to awkwardly bring it up."
6. Amanda, 23
"I've come home to clothing sprawled across my living room, half-eaten food on the table and dirty dishes piled high. As someone who likes to have a clean home — or at least a livable one — the mess really gets to me. I've found brownie batter in places I've never thought possible along with broken beer bottles in the bathtub. And the worst part? When they leave the mess for you to clean up because they're conveniently out of town for the next week. The best part about roommates is when they shift from the person down the hall to a friend for life. I'm lucky that I've my fair share of awesome roommates where our biggest problem was figuring out if we wanted pizza or Chinese food for dinner (spoiler: pizza always wins)."
7. Becky, 30
"The best thing about living with a roommate is that you always have someone to hangout with, if you get along. Its also easier to go on vacation and know that someone is taking care of the house. The worst part of living with a roommate is when one of the roommates are in a relationship and they always bring their significant other around. It can be annoying."
8. Joyce, 22
"I loved having a roommate because my roommate was someone I could stay up and gossip with. It was also the perfect way to procrastinate. The worst thing about having a roommate was when the shared spaces weren't clean and the dishes weren't done. It'd be a whole passive aggressive thing where you'd do your dishes but leave their dishes in the sink unwashed."
9. Nicole, 23
"Roommates are a quintessential part of the millennial experience. I’ve had my fair share of roommate experiences: a pass-through room where I had to walk through my friend’s room to get to my own (including those awkward times when her boyfriend was spending the night and I had to use the bathroom at 3 a.m…) and a roommate I found on Facebook, after moving to a new city to attend graduate school, who once posted sticky notes all over our bathroom with paragraphs taunting me and calling me cheap because I didn’t buy toilet paper immediately when she asked.
But, despite the often humorous lows, there have also been amazing highs of living with roommates: I shared an apartment with three amazing friends for a quarter in Prague, where we spent endless nights sipping wine from the corner store across the street and exploring all that Europe had to offer.. And, most recently, while living in a sublease with two girls I had never met prior to moving in, was bombarded with comforting text messages and flowers after experiencing a devastating family loss."
10. Sam, 22
"The best part of having a roommate is always having someone to talk to right around the corner. The worst part is when alternative life choices get in the way of a happy living situation/friendship."
11. Rachel, 22
"The best thing about having roommates is having people to vent to and relax with after a long day. The worst part about having roommates, especially when they're some of your best friends, is feeling like I always have to spend quality time with them, when sometimes I just want to avoid them and be by myself."
12. Ali, 24
"Best part is always having someone to let you in if you forget your keys, WORST part is having to worry about being quiet with your significant other!"
13. Amy, 21
"The best parts of having a roommate are someone to come home to to talk about your day so you don't bottle your feelings up, having someone who comes from a different lifestyle/background so you can learn about different ways of living, and meeting each other's friends. The worst part is if you don't get along with your roommate you get angry every time they're home, having a lack of privacy, and feeling like you have to ask for permission to live your life"
Living with someone other than a family member forces you to grow up and, while sometimes it sucks, it's a really important life experience. Having a roommate made me so much more aware of how other people think and act, how to compromise (especially when I actually shared a room), and what really matters to me. So, thank you to my roommates; good or bad, it was real.
Psst! Download CNBC Make It x Bustle's roommate contract and never fight over things like whose turn it is to buy toilet paper ever again.