Whenever a teenager is about to leave home to pursue higher studies, he/she is sad at the thought of having to part from his/her parents and siblings and stay with new people. To make matters worse, they are told that most roommates are horrible and they are nothing but a particular "species" of people who are born to make our life hell! Fortunately, the reality is far from it and this I say because in my entire student life, I have had many roommates and all except a few, I got along really well with! You may say that I have been exceptionally lucky, but the fact is even you can boast of good times spent with your roommates, only if you have a few tricks up your sleeve. After all, roommates are humans too and all you need to do is try and work a little to develop a relationship with them! Just go through the following pointers to know how to deal with your roommates and be a good roommate yourself.
How to be a Good Roommate
In order to be a good roommate, you should follow certain etiquette and behave with your roommates in a certain way. Here's how.
Set the Rules From the Beginning
The first step is avoiding problems and disagreements. From the very first day of your shifting in with your roomies, let them know what to expect regarding visitors, overnight guests, etc. Also, it is advisable that you talk about the different chores and responsibilities and who would tackle them. Set a schedule that clearly mentions who would be bringing the grocery, paying the electricity bills, cleaning the dishes and doing other household chores and for how long. This way the tasks would be divided equally among all the roommates, thereby eliminating the possibility of a conflict concerning these issues, in the long run. It is a good idea to put these agreements in writing, with all of you signing on it, and this is what you call a formal roommate agreement
Pay Your Bills on Time
This is probably one of the most common concerns when it comes to sharing an apartment. Since you and your roommates share everything, from the house rent to the telephone bills, it is very important that you pay your share of the bills on time, to prevent harassment to your roommates. It is not fair that your roommates pay for you every time, isn't it? Well, of course not! So, do your bit to keep the house running smoothly and your roommates will respect you for it. Not paying rents and bills on time is simply not done and creates a bad impression of you.
Clean Up After Yourself
Cleanliness in the premises (or rather the absence of it!) can be a major cause of conflict between roommates. To avoid this, it is always advisable that you take the initiative to keep at least the common areas clean, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, toilets and the living room. Doing things such as dumping dirty or unwashed clothes in the bathroom, leaving a pile of dirty dishes by the kitchen sink, or walking into the room with mud on your shoes, are simply not acceptable and should be avoided. No one likes dealing with a messy roommate, so just remember to clean up your things and your roommate is sure to thank you for that.
Learn to Respect Privacy
Did you ever come across a roommate who kept on asking you questions about your whereabouts, where you had been, with whom, etc? Well, if you did, then you must have been through the horrors of having an over inquisitive roommate! To prevent your roommate(s) from having a similar impression about you, the least you can do is respect their privacy. This means that you should allow them some space and not meddle or interfere in their matters unnecessarily. In spite of the fact that you and your roommate are very close friends, you should not feel you have the right to go through their text messages, emails or their personal diary. After all, they may not be comfortable sharing their personal information with you.
Remember to Communicate
Just like any other relationship, effective communication is the key to a good relationship with your roommate as well. Do not hesitate to talk to your roommate when their behavior irks or irritates you, no matter how small the issue might be. The key is to be frank and honest with your roommate and letting him/her know what you don't appreciate in their behavior and why. This way, problems can be sorted out the very moment they come up, thus eliminating the chances of misunderstandings in the future.
Avoid Borrowing Stuff
Most of the time, roommates tend to share stuff such as hand-wash, liquid dishwasher, detergent powder, etc., but all this is best avoided, and using your own stuff is the way to go. Also, if you ever need to borrow stuff from your roommate, you should follow certain etiquette in doing so. Whenever you need something that belongs to your roommate, make sure you ask his/her permission before using it. Another thing worth mentioning here is that you should never share the cost of buying an expensive appliance or furniture for your place. While you might like to believe that it is convenient to split the costs, doing so is sure to cause trouble when it is the time for one of you to move out. Who is gonna keep the LCD television? Or the expensive PlayStation? To avoid such complications, it is recommended that you buy your own stuff.
Be Understanding and Considerate
While sharing living space with people you hardly know can sometimes be difficult, you can make things easier by being a little patient and considerate. It is highly unlikely that you'll find a roommate who is exactly like you in personality and manner (you're really lucky if you do!). So, what you need to do is respect the differences and try to build a relationship of mutual understanding. As you get to know your roommates better, you'd also know about their habits, their nature, likes and dislikes, some of which might be exactly opposite to yours in certain aspects. For example, say, your roommate is an avid reader and loves to spend her leisure hours with books, while you love to listen to music. So, how do you think you should handle such a situation? Well, you can help your roommate by using a headphone to listen to your favorite numbers while allowing her to concentrate on her reading. Sometimes, you might come across roommates from very different cultural backgrounds. In such a scenario, a bit of effort from your side can make things easier for your roommate and in turn, you can get a whole new opportunity to learn interesting things from your roommate that you never knew before! After all, the words, "Treat others the way you want to be treated", is applicable to roommates as well!
In addition to the points discussed above, you should spend time with your roommates and involve them in some of your activities. Also, if you are expecting guests for the evening or are planning to throw a party for your friends, make sure to keep your roommates informed. Small things such as these can go a long way in building the bond between you and your roommates, and they will love and respect you for the person you are. So, inculcate the above mentioned qualities and you'll have innumerable happy moments with your roommates to talk about. Good luck!