How to Be a Considerate Roommate

When you are sharing a space like this you are going to need manners. [Via Flickr user byrion]

Roommates! We’re all going to have roommates at some point, whether it’s because we’re college freshmen, we’re poor and need to split the rent, or we just can’t imagine spending a second away from our BFFs. However, your BFF is gonna peace out and leave you with all the rent and all the dishes if you are a crappy roommate. So here are some tips to follow.


  • Try to discuss chores in an adult manner without getting passive aggressive or defensive. For some people, having a chart helps. For others, one person needs to take the lead and remind everyone when chores need to be done and who needs to do them. Try to establish something early on.

  • Respect the other’s space and privacy.

  • It’s not required, but it is pretty considerate to let your roommate know if you won’t be home overnight or are going away for a weekend so they don’t worry. It’s also a safety measure- if you get kidnapped or murdered, you will want someone to call the police!

  • After cooking, try to leave the kitchen the way you found it.

  • Try not to monopolize spaces, or if you do, try to make sure your roommate feels welcome. If you cook every night, offer to share dinner with your roommate (though don’t let yourself become the de-facto chef!). If you watch TV a lot, make sure your roommate also gets a say in what’s on.

  • Respect your roommate’s moods- don’t jabber at them first thing if they need coffee to wake up. On the flip side, a quick good morning or hello when you walk in the door before taking an hour to decompress will do wonders for making your roommate feel like you don’t hate them.

  • If you are a homebody, try to get out sometimes so your roommate can have the place to themselves.

  • Make sure you aren’t taking up more than your share of fridge and pantry space. Part of this can be accomplished by agreeing on certain foods that can be shared. You shouldn’t need to have two of everything when you guys can probably split the same carton of milk or bag of flour.

  • Don’t eat your roommate’s food, and ask before borrowing things. On the flip side, establish what’s personal and what’s shared. You don’t want to flip out at your roommate for playing your records when she thought they were fair game for anyone who felt like listening to music.

  • If you have a significant other, make sure they aren’t spending EVERY night and weekend at your apartment unless they are chipping in!

  • Try to discuss things in a civilized manner without getting passive aggressive or mean.

  • Just clean the toilet already, jeez.

  • And don’t hog the bathroom.


Unfortunately, even if you follow all these rules, sometimes you will just have a shitty roommate. So let’s all commiserate and share our shitty roommate stories. Here are ours:


Jaya: Of course mine was my freshman year roommate from college, who thought that because she went to boarding school and technically had enough credits to count as a Junior when she was 18 that she was incredibly mature and knew all there was to being a roommate. She made a lot of rude assumptions (“You’re an only child, so I know you’ll have a hard time sharing…”), but then proceeded to break every rule she set, such as leaving mugs filled with sunflower seed shells all over the room for me to knock over, kicking me out of the room for a weekend so her boyfriend could stay over, blasting her music when I was studying and then insisting I leave the room while she was studying, and not letting me use the fridge because it was “her” fridge even though c’mon we’re freshmen and I just want a place to store my leftover mozzarella sticks. Oh and she would spend long times guilting me whenever I came home drunk, even though I was 18 and we went to school in New Orleans. And then she’d go out and get wasted and come home at 4am just scream-laughing and waking everyone up.


Victoria: I’ve been pretty lucky in having mostly good roommates, aside from the expected frustrations over chores and sharing the bathroom. I did have one roommate who spent most of her time on the phone with her long distance boyfriend, but that was more just…weird than anything. Another roommate had been on the track team until she was injured and then spent the rest of the semester skipping class to watch TV and thus being in our tiny dorm room at ALL TIMES. She also liked to study in the room all night with the light on (pro tip: sleeping masks are absolutely amazing) instead of going to the library like a normal person. OH! And one roommate let her boyfriend’s friend from home crash in our room during his Spring Break, leading to an EXTREMELY drunk guy crashing through my door in the wee hours and scaring me to death.



4 thoughts on “How to Be a Considerate Roommate

  1. If you have a new adult friend over for the night – let your roommate know. Going to the bathroom and seeing a strange person tiptoeing around the house could be taken very, very wrong. I had a guy roommate that didn’t understand that not knowing whether a guy was his short-term male friend or a burglar could be alarming.

  2. Pingback: How To Live In A Dorm | Uncommon Courtesy

  3. Pingback: Looking for a Roommate After College: 7 Obstacles

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