For many of you, the upcoming 2015/2016 school year also means getting a new roommate! Getting along with your roommate is important to succeed in your studies and is a necessity for your mental health and happiness (miserable roommate situation =-stress)! We recommend getting off on the right foot and setting some ground rules early on to avoid conflict later. Here are some talking points to help get the conversation going.
Study Habits: Will you have some sort of “quiet hours”? Where can you study? Is it ok to play music/video games/watch TV in common areas? What if one roommate is too loud? What is the best way to let each other know when there needs to be quiet?
Food: Take into account each person’s food preferences and dietary considerations. Will you share the cost of food? If so, how will you ensure each person contributes money? Do you shop individually? Is it okay to eat or drink something that belongs to someone else? If so, must it be replaced?
Other house items: Will you share the cost for common room items like garbage bags, dish washing soap, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and toiletries?
Personal belongings/Privacy: Is it okay to borrow personal goods without approval? What is off limits? Is it ok to go into a roommate’s bedroom? Can visitors go into the roommate’s bedroom? Should there be a knock first policy?
Visitors: Will you have parties? During what times and days can friends come over? How many visitors can come over at one time? Is it ok to have overnight guests? How long can an overnight guest stay? Where can guests sleep? What if a visitor makes someone feel uncomfortable? Where can guests park?
Smoking, drinking and drugs: Will you have rules guiding what is permissible? Will there be limits as to where these things can happen, such as “no smoking in the house.” What will we do if someone brings drugs into the house? How will we ensure that we follow the laws around alcohol (such as not allowing anyone under 21 to drink).
Rent. Will the rent be split evenly? Will one person pay more to have a larger spacer or balcony? How will you pay rent? Will one roommate pay the landlord, or will you each pay separately? Who mails/delivers the rent to the landlord? Will any roommate be leaving before the term is complete? If so, who will pay the rent? How will a new roommate be selected? We recommend signing a “Roommate Contract” that specifies the terms of your partnership.
• Utilities and other services. How will we divide and pay for deposits and/or hook- up charges for each utility? Will we have a telephone, cable television or internet? How will we pay for hook up and/or charges related to these services?
Remember, establishing an open, honest relationship with your new roommate will help to save you from massive headaches later on. Always discuss concerns as soon as they arise, before they escalate into larger issues. Good luck and have fun!