Roommate negotiation

Living with a new roommate can be fraught. Even if you have experience sharing space with strangers, the two (or more) of you might have habits and quirks that occasionally irritate each other. Establishing some compromises early on can make life easier, however.

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Read on for some helpful tips for negotiating with a roommate.

  • Don’t be too needy. You and your roommate might be or end up as good friends, but it’s more important that you just get along. If you place too many expectations on a friendship with your roommate, you run the risk of interpreting actions that have nothing to do with you as personal rejection. Try to keep your interactions light and friendly.
  • Decide what’s most important to you. Do you need quiet after a certain hour? Are you an eager cook who wants plenty of space in the kitchen? When you recognize the details that matter most, you’ll know where best to communicate and compromise.
  • The more potentially damaging an issue, the more it needs to be discussed. One example would be the sharing of rent payments or other bills. If one of you were to forget to pay the electric bill, for instance, it could lead to your power getting cut off! Make sure to prioritize and discuss how you will both handle important home issues (like financial agreements) early on in your roommate relationship.
  • Get context. Your roommate is likely neither stupid nor out to get you. Getting to know him or her will allow you to place habits — even the ones that really annoy you — in context.

More on apartment life with a roommate:
Quiz: Which TV Roommate are You?
Becoming BFFs: 4 Ways to Forge a Friendship with Your Roommate
When You Move, Do You Take Your Roommate With You?
Dividing Up Chores with Your Roommates
How to Plan Great Meals with Your Roommate
Your Roommate is Leaving You… Now What?

  • Don’t try to negotiate in the heat of the moment. About to blow your top? Try taking a walk or otherwise distracting yourself. You’ll be less likely to make your roommate feel defensive if you can approach a discussion calmly.
  • Don’t wait until you’re furious. If something’s really irritating you, it’s better to address it quickly than to let it fester for a long period of time.
  • Don’t attack. A better approach would be to use “I” statements and take responsibility for your feelings. “When you play your music loudly at 11 pm, I have trouble getting to sleep and I’m cranky the next day” goes over better than “thanks a lot for keeping me up last night.”
  • Be willing to make concessions. Even if you feel that you’re completely in the right, it may be in your best interest to offer a concession to your roommate.
  • Communicate directly. Your roommate will not be happy to hear from mutual friends — or via Facebook or Twitter, for that matter — that you have a problem with him or her. It is a healthy idea to communicate directly with your roommate about home living issues.
  • Consider a roommate agreement. A written agreement between you could be created to cover only the most basic potential issues, such as paying rent, or the agreement could be made more explicit and extensive. It can be helpful to set everything down in writing and to have a document to refer back to later to help settle any conflicts that come up.

Living with a roommate can be a lot of fun, not to mention helpful in covering living expenses. When you work to communicate openly with your roommate, you can help prevent unpleasant surprises and keep both of you happy at home!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Cindy Hughes

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The Apartment Guide Blog is your premier source for all things apartment related. From your initial search to your next move and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with all the tips, tricks and advice you’re looking for. We also sprinkle in a little industry news like rental trends and city lists from time to time if that’s your thing.

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