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How to be a Good Roommate

Updated on May 29, 2010

Being a good roommate is important. No one wants to live with a jerk! I've had more roommates than most people have, due to various childhood situations and lots of moving around as an adult, particularly during my college years. I've lived in settings with one other person and I've lived in settings where I had as many as 12 roommates. The rules are pretty much the same no matter your situation and if you make the effort to be a good roommate, you will be appreciated. The following tips will help you be a good roommate, have a look and see if you're already on Santa's good list or not.

1. Be quiet.

Not all the time, obviously, but the single most annoying thing about roommates is being woken up by them when they're drunk or just behaving like an arse. If it's 0600 and you've only just left the pub, you shouldn't expect that your roommate (who has to wake up at 0700 for work) is going to appreciate being roused from a peaceful sleep by you bumbling though the front door in a drunken stupor -- nor will they enjoy waking up from the sound of you retching in the hallway because you couldn't make it to the toilet.

But that's not all! Being quiet also means you shouldn't be slamming doors, cabinets, windows, or tromping up and down steps like an elephant. And before you insist that you'd never do such a thing -- most people do all of the above a good deal more loudly than they realize. So if your roommate's studying or sleeping, make the effort to be more quiet than you usually are.

2. Pay your bills on time.

Did you call South America for a five hour chat with some girl you met on Facebook? Pay up, son. Do not expect your roommates to cover for your bills. If you're living with roommates you are obligated to pay on time and keep the house running smoothly. If you don't, you will tick your flatmates off. Once in awhile, maybe -- but that's only going to work out if your roommate can afford to cover you in the first place. If they can't you might end up with no phone for a month or two and that's not going to make you a popular roommate.

3. Don't eat other people's food.

I confess I am guilty of having done this a few times when I was really broke as a student, but I never ate a lot of whatever I ate. At most I ate a few chips or a spoonful of something in the fridge. And even then I still feel guilty about it now! So don't do it unless you have some sort of agreement on that sort of thing.

4. Don't use their stuff up.

Bathroom toiletries, laundry detergent and other things are not generally expensive and you might consider making an agreement to share them. But sometimes people prefer certain brands or expensive products and they are not going to be happy if you've used up the last of their 50 dollar cologne without asking. So just to be on the safe side, it's usually best to just use your own stuff. But if you do happen to share, be sure to replace things immediately -- it's not fair to make someone else wait until the weekend for soap!

5. Clean up after yourself.

Everyone has different ideas of what constitutes clean, but most people will agree that you need to clean up after yourself. If your dishes are dirty, wash them. Don't leave your clothes on the floor or stacked on the kitchen table. Don't traipse mud into the house and expect someone else to clean it up. Don't let your dog poo all over the garden and hope it will biodegrade overnight. Don't funk up the toilet and pretend you didn't. Don't wee on the seat and hope the girls won't notice that they've sat in it. Just don't!

6. Ask before you throw a party

Don't bring home 70 of your closest mates and expect your roommate to be cool with the impromptu party. It may be your home, but it's theirs too and parties should be agreed on in advance. At the very least you should give your flatmates notice that you intend to have one so they can make plans to study or sleep elsewhere if they want to.

Image: graur razvan ionut /


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