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Roommates and Communal Living

The only person that probably complained about you playing your music too loud or leaving your clothes on the floor was your mom or dad, or a particularly obsessive sibling. At college, you’re going to be responsible for not only keeping your grades up and finding a way to pay for that pricey college education, but also learning how to deal with living with people outside of your family. It may come naturally for some, but completely unnatural for others. If you don’t share well, you’ll need to learn. If you have a strong personality, you may need to learn how to compromise. Be understanding of your new roommates’ preferences and study habits – especially during that freshman year where you are all adjusting – and know when to stand your ground on issues that bother you but also when to bend a bit to maintain a civil relationship. We’ve come up with some tips for how you can have a more positive college experience and better adjust to new roommates and communal living.

Adapting to a shared space

You’re going to learn a lot while in college, including life lessons that come with sharing an often small, cramped space. If you’re going to be starting the traditional college freshman experiences, chances are you’re not going to have much room for all the stuff you own back home. You’re going to be sharing a space that may be as small as half the size of your childhood room with someone else, someone who could be a complete stranger. It’s important then to know of the common roommate problems that may arise before you move into that shared space. If you’re like many college students, you’ll be going into your freshman year blind, with no idea who you’ll be paired with in that first-year dorm. If you’re lucky enough to be able to choose a roommate that first year, or if you’ve decided to live in the dorm a second year but need another roommate for that double you have your eye on, there are easy ways to search when you’re finding a dormitory roommate. If you’re ready to move out of the dorms but need some help finding an apartment roommate, you may have an even easier time, especially if you’re a senior.

Getting along with your roommates

No two people are ever alike. So while you should be optimistic that you’ll have a stress-free college experience with roommates that will eventually become your friends for life, you should also be realistic that your personality may clash with someone else’s, and that you may come across roommate problems in your college career. Hopefully you won’t go so far as deciding that evicting a roommate is the way to go, but don’t assume that you need to remain in a bad situation if it’s affecting the rest of your college experience. Consider a roommate contract to clarify boundaries and expectations, and set the stage for a positive roommate relationship. This won’t be the last time you’ll need to learn how to get along with people who may be different than you, and it may make for good practice for the working world.

If you’re attempting to bypass any roommate drama by living with a close friend, remember that there are things you may not know about a person until you live with them. Don’t let silly things get in the way of a life-long friendship, and be honest about what you expect in a roommate and what you expect out of the experience. You may think you don’t have any bad habits until your friend points them out, and they may be more comfortable doing so because they’re a good friend of yours. Chances are you two will get along fine, but be ready to compromise if you don’t.

Browse through our site to see tips on dealing with difficult situations that crop up among roommates and communal living. We also have tips on all other aspects of college life, including apartment penny pinching, student checking accounts, and all aspects of the budgeting process, so search around to make your college experience as stress-free and rewarding as possible.

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