At some point in your college career you’re bound to have roommate problems; it’s a part of college life (unless you live alone the entire time but that’s doubtful). Whether you’re a freshman in a dorm with a random roommate or a senior living in a house full of best friends, being around people with different peeves, tastes, passions, and habits in such close quarters can really invite problems. But every problem has a solution!
One thing to do is talk early on in the year. Discussing tasks or chores, likes and dislikes, or preferences and routines soon after moving in will only help and set off the year to a good start. Bring up things like cleanliness, sleep schedules (early bird or night owl), whose name is on utilities and how will that be handled, your little quirks and theirs that might impede roommate comradery or encourage it, and anything else you think needs to be said. If you’re not too comfortable with your roommate yet just keep in mind this is the person, or people, you will be living with for an extended amount of time. They might need to know about your panic attacks, for example, so they can either help, give you space, or know to call someone or not to. Things like that, while very personal and completely up to you to share or not, are sometimes better to be known than kept to yourself.
Soon after moving in you’ll realize what else needs to be said or done. Cleanliness is a big thing with roommates. Everyone always says they’re clean but are they really? If you notice dishes piling up in the sink day after day and you know they’re not yours, say something. Depending on the kind of person you are text everyone or talk in person. Talking in person is probably more effective but sometimes that’s not always possible. The key to solving roommate problems is talking about the problems and ways they can be fixed. If your roommate doesn’t lock the door at night or doesn’t take their shoes of and drags dirt and leaves in everyday, bring it up. Say how it affects you and how it can be fixed. Keep an open and positive tone and try not to make it all about him, her, or them doing wrong (even if it is all about them doing wrong). Immediately getting rude and pointing fingers will not help anything.
If talking about things went well but you still notice the habits like cleanliness or such haven’t changed that much, or they only changed for about a week or two, it’s time to put a plan on paper. Make a chore chart or a cleaning schedule so that way it becomes visual and everyone can see when someone slacks or when it’s their turn to do something. Plus, a visual chart or schedule can be a nice reminder. Being fair with it will create a harmonious environment.
If the problem is something you can’t really write down on a piece of paper it’s a bit trickier to solve. If it’s more of a personality kind of problem then you might need to bring someone else in. If the problem is just between you and one other roommate, try talking to a third or fourth roommate about it. Or if you have friends in common, ask them to talk to both of you and keep a non-biased attitude about it. Sometimes neither of these options work, so maybe try reaching out to a friend, parent, or someone you know well for advice.
Something important to keep in mind is that you might be the problem. If you propose that the kitchen needs to be mopped once a week and find resistance to the idea, realize you may be a little to excited about germs and try to compromise with your roommates. Or maybe you love having people over to hang out and party. Sounds fun, right? Try to keep in mind how your roommate might feel about this, especially if he, she, or they never join. Sometimes it’s too easy to be blind to our own faults.
While most roommate situations will work out in the end, sometimes there are just problems you’ll have to endure until move-out day. If the problem is too serious to handle, resolve, or ignore, moving out and sub-leasing is always an option but try to make this a very last option. Everyone has a crazy roommate story from college so if yours is going on now try to keep in mind your situation in the grand scheme of things.
During all this try to maintain a positive attitude, be open about the issue(s), keep in mind what you’re doing might be bothering them, and live by the golden rule: treat others how you’d want to be treated. Becoming petty, harsh, and closed-off or uncommunicative will only make things worse. Years from now the problem will probably become just another roommate story and a thing of the past. If possible, don’t let a roommate issue impede your college career. Keep studying, having fun, and working towards your future.