Living with a roommate
Living with a roommate can be heaven and hell. You could be lucky and live with someone that loves to clean and as a result you never have to worry about dealing with a mess. Or you could live with someone who never picks up after themselves and your living space constantly looks like a mini tornado blew through while you were at work. Living with family has different rules than living with friends or even strangers. I have lived with my sister for 4 years now and we have had our ups and downs like any normal sibling relationship. Leaving shoes by the stairs has been an ongoing battle from day one. My opinion is that since you have to wear shoes out of the house, they should be close to the door for ease of use. She thinks that anything more than one pair by the door is grounds for throwing the shoes at me until I put them in my room, the furthest point from the door in the apartment. This is a minor battle compared to some of the other issues living with a roommate can bring up.
About a year ago her boyfriend moved in. There was no discussion about it, she thought because she paid some of the bills she was entitled to invite another house guest to stay permanently. Now they are getting married and I still hate living with him. There is nowhere to go to relax anymore. As soon as I walk though the door he is there, playing games or watching a movie in MY living room. Thankfully, I have my own bathroom to shower in, but he frequently uses it for other things. I have had to make a lot of adjustments this past year and my tolerance for excessive PDA has grown greatly! To help others with what I have learned from my experiences I have put together a quick guide for those that are considering getting a roommate:
To not get you too discouraged I will start with the pros of having a roommate
1) Safety in numbers! If you are a single girl in your twenties then living alone can be a scary thing. Having someone else in the house can be a huge relief if you are easily worried about someone breaking in and taking your stuff while you are asleep.
2) Share the cost. Ever since the housing market went crazy rent has increased drastically. It is more cost effective to split a two or three bedroom apartment than to get a one bedroom. Also all utilities, cable, internet and however you arrange the food is also shared with others.
3) Every night can be girls night. You come home from a bad day at work and you need to have a cocktail and vent. Well, lucky you there is someone waiting when you get home to listen to your troubles and share a drink with. This doesn't have to be "girl night" if you live with someone of the opposite sex and they are willing to listen then go for it. If you are a guy then you can call it "boys night".
1) Get out of my room! There is absolutely no privacy, especially if you share a bathroom. Wherever you look your roommate is there. If you don't lay out boundary rules from the start it can be a huge invasion of personal space to live with someone else.
2) So when were you going to give me rent? Sharing the cost of everything can be a bonus if you are tight on funds and can't do it all alone but what happens if suddenly your roommate can't make their share of the payments... Trust me, I have experienced this situation before and it is not a picnic. Having funds set aside for a rainy day is an absolute must if you are going to start relying on another persons salary to live.
3) It's 3 AM, go to bed already!! This doesn't have to be a con if you are flexible but for some noise at all hours of the day and night can be a problem. I chose to handle the situation by investing in high quality earplugs. Probably not the most cost effective solution but it sure beats murdering someone in a sleepy rage.
How do I cope with it all?!?!
I am not suggesting that everyone needs a Sheldon Cooper style roommate contract (although for some it might be extremely beneficial. Reciprocity clause anyone?).
The main thing to remember is that communication is key. If you can't talk to your roommate and discuss things that are bothering you it will never change. What you have to understand that the really annoying thing he/she is doing is completely normal for them. Without someone telling them it's actually incredibly disturbing they wont be able to work with you to come to a compromise.
Another thing to remember is that while you are used to a certain way of living, there will have to be concessions made. Everyone shouldn't be expected to change their habits to fit your lifestyle. You too will need to change some things. For example, you are a night owl and they are morning birds. Work out something where you don't make noise in the common area before/after certain times. EAR PLUGS. Mans best invention. My sister and her fiance stay up late because they go to work later than I do. After spending weeks of getting upset because they would be awake until 2 - 3 in the morning without any consideration for me, I caved and bought ear plugs. Now I get the best sleep of my life.
Sharing a bathroom is one of the most difficult problems to overcome. It is very important to discuss and understand each others needs. I feel that whoever needs to leave first for work gets first dibs on the bathroom. Keeping that in mind it isn't polite for that person to spend an hour combing through their hair while others need to do their business.
Sharing kitchen duties is a good way to keep the peace. Alternate days or have someone cook on weekends and the other on week days. A rule that works for me though is that whoever cooks is the one that cleans. There were too many nights where I would cook dinner and use one or two pots and my sister would offer to clean up after it. At the time I was very grateful and thought it was sweet of her for offering. Then it was her night to cook and I am pretty sure she used every pot we own. After dinner she expected me to clean up after it because that is how it worked the night before. I told her that if she thought it was necessary to use all those pots then she could go ahead and clean them! We ended up doing half each but we agreed that whoever does the cooking can clean up after as well.
Everyone will have to decide for themselves what they can and cannot live with. In the end just remember: Consideration and communication are essential for successful cohabitation!