Going to school can be both exciting and nerve-racking. You’re experiencing all kinds of changes, one of the biggest might be a new living situation that includes a roommate.

Whether your roommate is a stranger, or someone you already know, living with someone can be a lot of fun, but sometimes it can be challenging. To help you deal with some of the most common challenges that having a new roommate can bring, we put together a Roommate Survival Guide.

1. Ask before you act

If you’re unsure about something, just ask! Keeping an open dialogue and asking questions will to not only make your roommate feel more comfortable, but it’ll also teach you a lot about them.

Ask questions

2. Treat their stuff as you would your own

Being respectful is imperative in all aspects of life, but having respect for your roommates and their personal items is beyond important. Don’t borrow clothes without asking (refer to #1), and treat their personal space and things with respect. Remember, everyone’s idea of personal space is different.

Backlit open hand

3. Keep an open mind

Unless your roommate is your long lost identical twin, you probably won’t have the same personalities. In other words, you’re bound to have different views on all kinds of things, so keep an open mind because you might learn something new and be surprised. The bottom line is this: you don’t have to agree on everything, but you do have to respect your differences.

Curly haired man's mouth widens in surprise

4. Communicate

Any good therapist will tell you that communication is the foundation to a good relationship. Or is that friendship? Probably both. The point is that you have to be able to talk about issues in order to resolve them. Sure this can be awkward, but wouldn’t you rather have one uncomfortable conversation instead of walking into a room full of tension for days on end? Talking things out in person is important, however, it’s not always possible, so if you need some extra support IGNITE’s Student Lifeline can help.


5. Compromise

Ah compromising: for some it isn’t the easiest thing to do, and for others it’s a way of life. Seriously though, learning how to compromise will not only help you deal with your roommate, it’s also an important skill to have for your future career, and life in general.


6. Honesty is the best policy

Let’s say, you notice your Cheerios are going missing and your roommate reveals that they’re eating them. Don’t say it’s fine, no worries, if that bothers you, just tell them the truth. The same goes if you do something that you think might upset your roommate: just be honest about it. People appreciate honesty, and the truth always comes out anyway!

Fresh Prince TV show character walks up to judge who slaps him

7. Know yourself

As Drake once said, “know yourself.” Being in tune with your own personality and habits — for example, knowing whether you’re a morning person or a night hawk — will help you establish a positive living situation with your roommate. If you know you like to wake up early (or reluctantly have to be for early classes), then communicate (refer to #4) that to your roommate to avoid any conflict.


8. You don’t have to be best friends

Although it’s very possible that you and your roommate will become BFFs, this isn’t always the case and that’s OK! If you’re living in residence, those personality surveys that you fill out before moving in aren’t exactly fool proof, and one thing is for sure, whether you’re moving in with a friend or someone you’ve never met, you don’t really know someone until you live with them.

Friends TV show Joey hugs Chandler

No matter what your living situation may be, try to make the best of it! Living with a roommate can certainly come with its challenges, but if you’re willing to apply some of the tips listed above, chances are that your living situation will be pretty great, making your time away at school even better. After all, everyone’s here to not only learn, but to make friends and have the best possible experience.