Don’t leave your dirty dishes for your roommate. Wash the dishes after you’re done using them. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

Moving out of your parents’ house is a memorable milestone and it’s nice to have independence and freedom. However, if you’re living with a roommate, things might not go as smoothly as planned. From my own experience of moving in with a friend almost a year ago as well as navigating the awkwardness and stress of sharing an apartment, I’ve found that there are a number of things that can make the transition more manageable. The countless number of headaches and frustration related to roommate issues can be easily resolved by taking simple steps before moving in.

Communicate: What’s common sense for you might not be the same for your roommate, and vice versa. For instance, if you’re having guests over, it’s courteous to let your roommate know who’s coming, what time to expect company, and for how long. Additionally, talking about shared responsibilities like vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, and sweeping the balcony can alleviate any stress or confusion related to who should be doing what. Something I implemented with my roommate is having a certain set of chores each week. It can be small things like changing the couch cover or taking the trash out. This has helped us to maintain a clean space while also making sure that the work is split equally.

Boundaries: Setting boundaries prior to moving in is a great way to make sure your roommate understands your limits and what is acceptable. One of my boundaries is the expectation of privacy. I have asked my roommate to always knock before coming into my room and not to enter my room without permission. Since I expect that from my roommate, I have also made it clear that he can expect the same from me.

Food: Do not eat food if it’s not yours. It’s really that simple. No one should have to write their name on something just to claim it because we all learned in kindergarten not to touch things that don’t belong to us. However, it is okay to share food if you communicate that with your roommate. My roommate and I have reached an agreement where he will buy Hot Pockets and I’ll buy strawberry Uncrustables. Other than that, we acknowledge that anything else in the fridge or freezer is off-limits unless specified.

Clean Up After Yourself: If you move in with someone and expect everything to be taken care of, you’re already making the wrong choice. It’s not that hard to pick up your socks and wash your dirty dishes, so don’t leave them sitting for your roommate to deal with. This also means not hogging dishes in your room. I’m guilty of hoarding cups of water from time to time, but I make sure to wash everything after.

Rent and Bills: Work out between you and your roommate who is responsible for paying certain bills. In my living situation, I send a check for rent to my landlord every month and my roommate pays me the difference after we split electricity and internet. I’ve found that having one person pay for all expenses and splitting costs afterward is more efficient, though everyone’s preferences vary.

Friend to Roommate: Considering moving in with a friend? Living with someone you know can put a strain on the relationship and change it in a negative way if you’re not clearly communicating with each other. Some things you don’t find out about people until you’ve actually started to live with them, which sucks. Though being level-headed and handling difficult situations with grace can make all the difference when it comes to preserving and rekindling a friendship. Something that I have started doing recently is checking in with my roommate. Usually, our schedules are opposite and I leave for work early in the morning while he comes home late. On our off days, we try to have movie nights and talk about what’s going on in our lives so we have a way to stay connected.

Keep in mind that not all roommate situations are the same. What works for me and my roommate might not work for you and that’s okay. Ultimately, the goal is to come to an agreement with your roommate on how things are going to be in your shared living space. Things can always be changed after, though setting rules ahead of time is better than waiting until you’ve already moved in together.