Welcome to your 20’s! A time when space to yourself is a luxury that you just cannot afford. Roommates are an essential part of the young adult life. Living with others is a right of passage before you can move on to your dream loft in Manhattan.
While living in tight quarters can strain any relationship, it is completely doable with a little patience. These tips can help make life easier.
Set the ground rules from the beginning.
If you want an amicable relationship with your roommates then you can’t go changing your expectations a few months into living with them. If you are a neat freak, then explain to your roommates that keeping the apartment clean is important to you.
Decide together if you want to designate one day a week as the cleaning day or if you would rather clean as you go. Keep in mind that you will attract bugs and other unattractive critters if you leave old dishes or food out.
Just be consistent in your expectations. You are living in close proximity with these people, but that does not mean they can read your mind. They will not know that it bothers you when the cabinet is left open unless you tell them.
When you feel yourself getting frustrated, leave.
You learn a lot about people by living with them—maybe too much. You become familiar with people’s schedules and habits, even the irritating ones. It is inevitable that you will become annoyed with your roommate after she leaves the Brita filter empty in the fridge for the ninth time. Or when she Skypes too loudly while you’re trying to study.
Your best bet is to leave the confines of your apartment for a little while. Visit friends, go for a walk or do some work in Starbucks. Leaving your apartment or house will give you room to breathe and give you time to forget about your frustration.
After you have given yourself time to cool down, decide if it is an issue worth addressing or something minor that you can let go. If you decide to address the issue, make sure you are calm and clear about why you are upset. Passive aggressive comments will only make matters worse.
You must be flexible when living with other people. Like a romantic relationship, you have to make sacrifices in order for it to work. Support each other and treat your roommate(s) with respect. Life will be much easier for both of you if you offer to help each other when it is needed.
Be sure to make some alone time for yourself so you can appreciate your roommate’s company when he or she is there.
Spend time together.
Partaking in an activity together that you both enjoy will give you both an outlet to relax and bond. If you just moved in to a new place, spend time crafting or decorating. It can be fun to hunt through flea markets and craft fairs for unique pieces for a bargain. Or, exercise together. Participating in exercise classes or planning runs with your roommate will not only reduce stress, but it will increase the chances of you actually getting out of bed and on the treadmill.
Try to make the most out of your roommate situation. While living with someone can be a nuisance at times, there will be days when you really appreciate the company.
Hilary Burns is a senior at Wake Forest University from Cape Cod, Mass. Hilary has a passion for storytelling and has been published in multiple national publications including USA TODAY, Huffington Post and USAirways Magazine. She hopes to pursue a career in the exciting journalism industry after graduation in May 2014. When she isn’t writing or editing, Hilary is in a yoga class or planning a future dream trip to Europe.