Opinion: How to be a great and unforgettable roommate

Tamlynn Torchon

There are generally two types of reactions to having a roommate. The first is joy because there’s excitement to meet and share life with someone else. Then, there’s this feeling of dreadful horror because you have no idea who you’ll end up with for the semester or the year.

We have all experienced either one or both types of roommates over the academic years, and we have our fair share of stories. Let’s discuss what makes someone a great roommate, and how to cultivate those mannerisms that will make the experience more enjoyable.

Understand that each person is different for various reasons

That’s the equally awesome and disheartening part of having a roommate. Each individual is different, and they never fully meet our expectations or our preconceived notions. It is therefore important to keep this in mind: it would be best to have no expectations and set things straight from the start.

Communication is everything

If possible, meet with your future roommate(s) prior to moving in. Your first encounter may reveal if you’re ready to share a common space with those individuals. Discuss your pet-peeves, listen to theirs and find areas of agreement.

Make the rules together and with everyone’s consent

Respect is very important. No one is the head of the household unless it’s agreed to. Everyone must actively participate in and share chores, keep common areas clean, decide how guests and friends will affect the shared spaces, ect. It is important that everyone feels included in the management of the space.

Clean up after yourself

This is serious business. We’ve all encountered (or perhaps we’ve been) that one roommate who doesn’t wash dishes or clean up after themselves. This is truly unpleasant and disrespectful. It’s also one of the biggest shared complaints. Uncleanliness is never good.

Take out the trash

This particular task is somewhat problematic in the majority of apartments/houses. Taking out the trash seems so annoying, yet it is so essential to everyone’s well-being. No one needs flies, bugs or roaches around the kitchen. It’s gross and dangerous.


Times are hard, and sharing is caring. Perhaps it may not extend to food, but it can extend to general tools such as kitchenware and trash bins. If this isn’t acceptable to you, make it explicitly clear.

Set boundaries and seek permission

It is perfectly OK to set boundaries on your possessions. However, no one can read your mind, so you have to speak up if something is off-limits to others.

Be mindful of the general peace

If you are a naturally loud person, it would be great to let everyone know what to expect. Most people love silence and peace in their rooms. Be mindful of your neighbors next door as well as the floor below you.

Expect some awkwardness

Having roommates will be uncomfortable, as well, especially if your temperament is not confrontational. Though it will be useful to discuss things in person, you can always communicate through texts and notes. The importance is to always let others know, and ask for the same courtesy in return. Again, communication is key.

While the tips listed above are the norm, perhaps the most interesting yet underrated tip is to spend time with your roommates. Each person you meet will impact your life. You can always learn from the people you live with. One thing that isn’t stressed enough about academic life is that it’s a space of sharing. Those roommates might be the most resourceful people you will ever meet, so take advantage of it, and share your knowledge as well because you might be the very help they need to grow into responsible and well-rounded adults.

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