Roommates: make the most out of living with a stranger!

Are you living with roommates this September? As scary as living with someone new for the first time can be, it is also an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and if you play your cards right maybe even make a life-long friend.

In my first year at UBC I lived with three strangers, and unfortunately didn’t take the opportunity to really get to know any of them. It’s not like we fought or didn’t get along, but we barely spoke to each other. I did my studying in the library, hung out with friends at their places instead of mine, and went straight to my bedroom when I came home.

As ‘functional’ as this relationship was (the kitchen was always clean, garbages got taken out, and no one ever brought over loud guests) I missed out on the best part of having a roommate: friendship.

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My three roommates this year who became some of my closest friends.

You can find a ton of valuable information, resources, and tips on living with roommates on, but after you’re done discussing sleep schedules, setting cleaning responsibilities and reviewing quiet hours, I would definitely recommend getting to know your roommate(s) on a personal level.

Here are a few tried and true tips to help get to know your roommate(s) this year and form a functional relationship:

  • Hang out in shared living areas. If you spend your down time in areas such as the living room or kitchen instead of locked in your bedroom or at a friend’s place you will seem more approachable and hopefully your roommate will catch on and start doing the same.
  • Have a ‘date’. Designate a time to spend with your roommate(s). It could be as simple as going grocery shopping together, getting ice cream, or finding a show you both follow and watching it together. My roommate this summer and I started watching ‘Love it or List it’ together every Wednesday night, and it was so nice to know that no matter how much other stuff I had going on, we would have that time together.
  • Keep your door open. Literally and figuratively! When you’re not doing anything private or important, the simple gesture of leaving your door open can signal that you are home and available if anyone needs anything or wants to talk.
  • Try the 24 hour rule. Obviously we should all try to clean up dishes and pick our clothes off of the washroom floor right away… but sometimes because of exams or other commitments that’s just not possible. In my apartment we have a rule where you have to clean up any kind of mess within 24 hours. If you ABSOLUTELY can’t, leave a note and the next person who’s home will clean it for you… but you’ll owe them big time!!
  • Communicate. Whether it’s by iMessage, sticky-notes (not the passive aggressive kind!), or face-to-face conversation, staying in touch with your roommates is key.
  • Respect. Respect yourself, respect your roommate(s), and most of all, respect the rules that you set together at the beginning of the year. If your roomie has an 8am class, maybe don’t invite friends over for a midnight dance party! If they’ve bought paper towels the last three times, be proactive and grab some next time you’re at the store! Let your roommates know that you care about having a positive relationship with them.

I know that it’s not possible to best friends with everyone, but by putting in a little bit of effort it’s possible to have a good, working, living relationship with almost anyone.