So, you need to find a roommate for the school year and you decide to bunk with your best friend. After all, you already like each other — and that’s like half the battle! Everything else will be easy — right?
Well, not necessarily.
Being good friends with someone doesn’t automatically mean your living styles will line up. It might (and if that has been your experience, truly, good for you) but, for a lot of people, moving in with someone means finding things out about them that you’re…less than a fan of. And, bunkmate bickering can be even harder to confront when they’re also your buddies.
It’s like, “Is it OK to ask my friend to take out the trash?” “How do I bring up this issue without damaging our friendship?” “When are we friends and when are we roommates?”
If those sound like questions you’ve been asking yourself, then this guide is for you.
Here’s how to keep everyone happy when living with your friends:
Discuss — everything
You know how they say, before you marry someone, you should sit down and discuss important values and life goals with them? Like, whether you want to have children, how many, where you want to live, what kind of life you want to lead — all that stuff?
Well, the same is true when moving in with your friend. (You probably won’t need to talk about having children with them but, like, you get the picture.)
Before you collect your keys, get together with your friend-slash-roommate and talk out all the details of your new home environment. Will you buy separate groceries or share them? If you’re sharing, how will you split the bill? How will you divide cleaning responsibilities? What rules will you set surrounding guests and noise?
It might seem tedious — but the less you leave ambiguous going in, the less unwelcome surprises you’ll have after signing the lease. It’s worth it in the long run.
Curate a space that’s only yours
Living with your friends can be especially tough if you’re introverted. You’re used to your home being your solo space and everywhere else being where you go to socialize. When you live with your friends, though, that line is blurred.
So, to keep yourself grounded, decide with your roommate a space you can go for alone time. If you have separate rooms, maybe it’s your bedroom; or, if you share a room, maybe it’s your bed.
But, wherever it is, when you’re there, you’re off-limits.
(This is a good boundary to set up during your pre-move-in discussion).
Host regular home meetings
One of the most common struggles students encounter when living with friends is determining when to put your “friend” hat on and when to put your “roommate” hat on. If you’ve spent years spending time with someone almost exclusively in a leisurely, no-strings-attached setting, it can feel strange when you need to ask them to put the toilet seat down.
You can get around this by setting up short meetings once a week (or once every two weeks, or once a month, or whatever works for you) to talk about what’s working and what isn’t in your living space. During the meetings, you’re both wearing your roommate hats — it’s safe to (respectfully) air out your grievances and establish compromises going forward.
That way, you don’t have to fret over whether what you’re requesting is “acceptable” based on the nature of your relationship.
Get a third-party arbitrator
Sometimes domestic disputes aren’t easily settled. We get it.
That’s why IGNITE runs our free Dispute Resolution Clinic (DRC)! Whether you’re in a disagreement with your friends, roommates, or both, its experts are here to help you civilly work it out.
When you make an appointment at the DRC, you’ll get to sit down with a mediator and whoever you’re in conflict with and apply proven conflict management techniques to your specific situation. And, anything you discuss during your appointment will be kept 100 per cent confidential.
The DRC is currently operating virtually. This fall, it’s open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can book your appointment through SimplyBook.me.
Roommate conflict doesn’t have to mean losing your friend. In fact, with the help of these tips, your relationship may just come out stronger.
Roommate living is tough. Here’s how to solve some common domestic disputes.