It’s fun to live off-campus with friends that you know from classes or from the dorms, but sometimes it’s difficult to work through problems that you may have living together. The responsibilities and stress of living off-campus have the potential to make or break a friendship, so discuss the following topics before you start living together or looking for a house.
Rent: What’s everyone’s share of the rent? How will the rent get to the landlord every month? (If you all share a lease, you ALL are liable for any rent that one roommate doesn’t pay.)
Living Spaces: Who wants which bedrooms?
Chores: Consider making a chore schedule so everyone’s doing a fair share!
Food: Will you share food costs or keep everything separate?
Noise: Do some of your potential roommates like it quieter? Louder?
Guests: Under what conditions are guests allowed in the house?
For more information, read this article about 10 important questions to ask a potential roommate.
A Roommate Agreement can help you set up helpful boundaries and discuss things like cleanliness, chores, sharing items, and noise levels.
If your roommate does not want to talk with you, may get annoyed with you over little things, leave the room when you are there, then you might be having roommate issues. It is easier to work out a problem the earlier you address it. If you can communicate effectively, it will be much easier to develop good relationships between yourself and your roommates. Here are some tips for communicating effectively:
TALK IN PRIVATE:
Approach your roommate in private. Talk to your roommate directly when something is bothering you. Don’t discuss it behind their back because this can cause a breakdown in trust between you.
PICK A GOOD TIME:
Confirm that this is a good time for both of you to talk. If either of you feels rushed or blindsided the conversation will be less effective.
Discuss the issue with regard to behaviors rather than personality traits. This tactic is less likely to put your roommate on the defensive. Most roommate conflicts are the result of miscommunication or, in some cases, a total lack of communication.
Listen to your roommate and remember that there are two sides to every story. As you are listening, try to put yourself in your roommate’s shoes.
Each person should be given an opportunity to share their perspective on the roommate relationship and potential areas of tension.
A solution will probably involve a little give and take. The solution may not be your ideal scenario, but it should be an improvement on the current state of things.
Respect each other’s differences. Difference is a part of life. Get to know each other and establish common ground.
Avoid responding from your emotions. Criticism is bound to happen and your natural reaction is going to be to criticize back, but that is only going to compound the problem. Learning to accept criticism is going to help you communicate and live with your roommate. If you both find that you are approaching the limit and things are not being resolved, agree to take some time away from the discussion to cool down. If you feel your wits end then head to the WWU Counseling Center or get sliding scale mediation from Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center.
Take a Conflict Resolution Class:
Prevention and Wellness Services will offer free conflict resolution classes Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4pm on campus. Check out the Prevention and Wellness Services page for more information and to sign up!