The deficit of respectful roommates, and how to be one

Brittney Christ

As a college student, we have limited living options. Some students commute from home and some choose to live in the dorms, or just choose to live off campus. Most of the time, the decision comes down to price. Dorms can be very pricey, and you may have to share a room.

The Upper Eastside Lofts, an off-campus student housing option, costs upwards of $519 a month (utilities included). The catch? Sharing one tiny room with three other roommates that you probably have never met before, with an eat-in kitchen, living room and one bathroom. It’s also only 810 square feet.

Not to mention, there is also only one closet. I would know, I used to live there.

The only doors are the front door and bathroom door. Every morning, you can hear all of your roommates getting ready for class. You can hear them watching TV while you study or try to sleep. You can also hear, ahem, bumps in the night, even though they still think you’re asleep. There is, essentially, the lowest amount of privacy.

If you can afford it, for $719 a month you can have only one potentially awful roommate. If you really want to fork it out, you can have one room all to yourself for $1129 a month.

Most college students aren’t going to pay over a grand for some privacy, and neither are their parents (if that is an option).

That leaves you with potentially awful roommates. Sometimes, you can get lucky and find your best friend in a roommate, just like my mom did when she was in college. However, in my experience, that isn’t going to happen.

You do not want to be that roommate horror story.

Here are some tips for you to have the best year of college living, almost drama-free:

1. Clean Up

This is one of the worst complaints. If you and your roommates are on two different cleaning wavelengths, do yourselves a favor and change rooms ASAP. You can never teach someone to be cleaner or more hygienic. If you are stuck there with no hope of changing rooms, get up and do your dishes. One of my friends had roommates that would let the dishes pile up, and there was not one dish left to use. This friend also had a roommate that had huge garbage bags full of his nasty, sweaty gym clothes. They finally figured out why the room smelled like a dumpster once they found the bags under his bed.

2. Don’t Bring Your Romantic Interest Home…Period

Unless your roommates specifically say that you can bring over someone, assume it is a huge no-no. If you would not want your grandma to see it, then consider it a private moment. For too many reasons, just do not do this.

Do not lock out your roommate because you think having sex is more important than them eating dinner or studying for their final. Ask them.

Do not ask them on the spot as you hold your boyfriend by the hand, or as you carry in your new girlfriend while you are both half naked.

Give them a heads-up and ask if it is OK. Most people are willing to oblige and leave the room for the allotted time, but do not assume it is okay for your significant other to spend the whole night either.

3. Be Respectful- Just ASK! And Be Honest.

I once had a roommate start moving all of her furniture around because she wanted a different spot in the room, and I already had told her, “No, I am not trading places with you for only two months until you leave.” Do not be that roommate. Always border on the cautious side and ask.

“Can I have one of your brownies?”

“Would it be cool if Jeff came over?”

“Do you want me to study somewhere else so you can sleep?”

“Can I use your blender?”

Ask! If you do not know, or even if you just think you know, just ask. Also, be honest. When applying for a room, most often you will fill out a form that asks you your preferences on temperature, noise level, social level, cleanliness, etc. Do not lie. Do not think, “Oh, I’m pretty clean compared to blank.” Think, if I was living with a neat freak, would I be considered dirty? You need to think outside the box on what most people consider loud, or cold, or hot.

4. Communicate, Share, and Really Get to Know Them

You need to have your roommates’ numbers in your phone, and you need to be communicating. Having a roommate is the same as any other relationship. There are communication issues that need to be resolved and compromises to be made.

Make sure you are both on the same page. Are they allowed to use your rice cooker? Do they like to have the windows open? What temperature do they prefer? Do they have any allergies? Are they night owls or early birds?

Always talk about these things, and get them written in a contract for all parties to remain accountable.

That being said, living in dorms is not easy. Living in any sort of living arrangement with other people is not always a walk in the park. But the least you can do is try to be a good roommate.