How To Make Living With A College Roommate Tolerable

It IS possible.

How To Make Living With A College Roommate Tolerable
Photographed by Molly Culver.

Unless you are extremely lucky, there's a 99% chance you will have to live with a roommate at some point of your college (and let's face it, life) experience. And while we want to tell you it's a walk in the park, there are definitely a few setbacks to living with another person. Even with the best roommates, you're going to have to make some changes to your living habits.

But don't stress! Even when stuck with a complete random, it is possible to make the situation work. Whether you want to become besties or keep your relationship strictly business, that's fine either way. But there still are a few tips we recommend following to avoid any disasters — no matter how close you are. Read ahead to make your dorm a happy one.

Chat Before School Starts

Most of the time, your college will give you the contact information of your new roommate before move-in. We have to stress: reaching out in advance is a must. Not only can it give some expectations about who they are and their living styles, but you can also chat about what you are bringing to the dorm. While there are the basics of a room, there are a lot of essentials that you will need to bring yourself.

So you don't show up with two of everything, chat about some big things you might want to buy in advance or plan a Target run on day one to get things in order. Just remember that your budgets may not be the same, so don't pressure the purchase of a high-end buy. Do your best to chat things out to keep costs even and low. Another tip to avoid trouble down the road? Agree to not claim a bed or side of the room before the other roomie arrives at the dorm.

How To Make Living With A College Roommate Tolerable
Photographed by Suzanna Scott.

Divide Everything Evenly

Even if your wardrobe is a bottomless pit and your roomie rocks minimalist uniform set, you have to split the closet and drawer space in half. Space is seriously precious in college dorms and if you force your sea of hangers onto the entire rack, it's not going to be appreciated. If your closet is not big enough for your wardrobe, invest in under-bed storage, stackable slimline hangers, or some hacks to deal with overflow.

If you're the one with less, don't feel pressured to give up that precious storage space. While you can offer to give it up, you can also find creative ways to those drawers for other things like books or supplies.

Create A Roommate Agreement

The worst thing for roommates is when you're not on the same page. Whether it's how much you actually plan to clean to bedtimes to your comfort level with alcohol and overnight guests, you need to hash out the dirty details. The best way to set up expectations? Write out a roommate agreement.

It may seem kind of petty to sit down and write down all the details, but these first expectations are actually really important to hold your living space to a certain standard. If you're both fine with rarely picking clothes up off the floor, that's cool! If one of you is definitely a neat freak and the other is a low-key hoarder, find compromise. Set that first baseline and if you need to re-address things down the line, you can come back to your initial thoughts and talk them out again. Just don't write any passive aggressive post-it notes about it. If something serious arises, you can always bring in a R.A. as a third-party mediator.

How To Make Living With A College Roommate Tolerable
Photographed by Jessie Webster.

Bathroom Talk 

Have your own bathroom attached to your dorm? Lucky you! But sharing a bathroom with one toilet and one shower with multiple people can easily turn into a fight. Every semester, figure out everyone's schedules to see how your getting-ready routines can coordinate. Be frank about how long you take to do your skincare, if you're comfortable with someone doing their business or washing their face while you're showering, and even how you feel about nudity. It may feel awkward but those conversations will prevent growing resentment every time you close that bathroom door and crank the faucets.

Be Honest And Respectful

The most important thing about living with another person is honesty and respect. While you shouldn't cross the line and say something straight up rude, be sure to express what you are feeling in a considerate and genuine way. If you don't want to chat with your roommate after a long day, it's ok to say you need some quiet time and they should be cool with it. If your roomie has failed to take out the trash multiple times, you can mention politely that it would be great if they could empty it on their way to class. 

Just be considerate of your tone and be equally accepting if they call you out on something too. Remember that while you might find your roommate hard to live with, you are not without your flaws as well. While we're all about doing you, make sure that compromise and consideration for your fellow room companion is part of that.

I am Lonny's Senior Associate Editor. You can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at shelby.wax@livingly.com or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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