How to get along with roommates, save cash and avoid headaches

A man and his female roommate, who is wearing a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet.

Being good roommates means you don't need protective headgear to get along. (Photo Credit: CC BY/A Rod/Flickr)

When it comes to saving money on rent, few things work as well as splitting things up with roommates. However, it’s important to make sure that you and your roommate are a good match before agreeing to live together. Otherwise, no amount of cash savings are worth the daily anguish. Here are some tips for getting along with roommates so that you can focus on money saved.

Lay expectations on the line up front

Whether you’re moving in with someone or someone is moving in with you, set some ground rules first. Expectations as to who will do what chores and who will take care of specific expenses should be made clear, perhaps even in writing if for no other reason than to be a reminder, even if it isn’t a legally binding contract. In addition, agreement on personal space and quiet times should also be ironed out ahead of time.

Make sure the space requirements are clear

Keep in mind that just because you’re going to be roommates doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be fast friends. So long as everything else is agreeable, you don’t have to be BFFs. Don’t tread on someone’s boundaries, and make it clear to them that you’d like the same treatment in return. Having some private time in separate spaces can be just the thing to keep a good, working roommate relationship together. And nobody enjoys being smothered for very long.

Be congenial and extend an invitation

Every once in a while, even roommates that aren’t best friends can benefit from some bonding time. If you’re going out to dinner in the neighborhood, think once in awhile about inviting roomie along. Better yet, if you can find an activity that you both enjoy, such as beer pong or tea cozy knitting, consider making that a joint activity if it will keep your roommate relationship from going sour. If you can share activities, you and your roommate will have more to discuss together when time and circumstances allow for fraternization.

Keep guests to a minimum

The names of the people on the lease to the home, condo or apartment are the lords and ladies of the house. House guests, including girlfriends and boyfriends, are just that – house guests. As such, don’t bring a guest into the fold too often for overnights and activities, as this may not sit well with your roommate. Try to be polite and share you plans before they occur. If sleepovers don’t sit well with roommate, you may need to go to that person’s house more often, instead.

Keep common areas clean

Kitchen, living and dining room space are examples of common areas that should be kept clean whenever possible. A house of chaos is stressful to nearly everyone, so why live that way? Divide clean-up chores, or leave messes to the person who made them, such as dishes. Just make sure to take care of things when it’s your turn.

Don’t be a food Pac-Man

Pac-Man lives to eat, and sometimes, it seems like roommates do, too. The best rule of thumb here is to also have agreements regarding shared food, and perhaps even keep the shared food in a specific cupboard or container. If you didn’t buy the food and it isn’t in a shared container or location, the best thing to do is to leave well enough alone.

Preparing for life with a new roommate


U.S. News & World Report


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