6 Tips for Living with a Roommate

Built-in bestie or certified slob? Life with a roommate can have its ups and downs, but as long as you’re honest with one another about your needs and expectations, sharing a living space is a great opportunity to get to know someone new and grow in your communication skills. Here are 6 keys to cohabitating with ease:

1. Manage your expectations.

Don’t move into your dorm assuming that your roommate is going to be your best friend. Not everyone wants to be close to their roommate, so be pleasantly surprised if your roommate relationship becomes a friendship. You may even consider asking your roommate about the type of relationship he or she hopes to have with you and others living on your floor.

2. Establish rules of the room.

At the start of the semester, tell your roommate what you need to thrive in your living environment. Are you an early bird who likes to go to bed before 10? Set a time for lights out. Do you usually study between class and dinner? Request quiet time during your daily homework session. Be sure to talk about when guests can hang out in your room and when it’s OK to talk on the phone, too.

3. Respect your roommate’s personal space.

Your dorm room belongs to more than just you, so be respectful of your roommate’s space and things. Ask before you borrow something and return it in a timely manner. If you break what you borrowed, pay to fix or replace it.

4. Be clean and considerate.

No one wants to find your dirty underwear on the floor or end up sitting in the crumbs you left on the futon. Plenty of roommate conflicts can be avoided by simply cleaning up after yourself.

5. Work out conflict together—and ask for help when you need it.

If you have an issue with your roommate, don’t trash-talk him or her when you’re with friends or other students living in your dorm. Instead, arrange a time to sit down with your roommate and resolve the problem as adults. Allow your roommate to share how he or she is feeling and listen well. If you can’t come up with a solution on your own, ask for help from a resident assistant or resident director.

6. Get to know your roommate.

Even if you don’t become best friends, it’s still a good idea to get to know your roommate and find out what interests them. Ask about their hometown, family, hobbies and extracurricular activities. If you see a funny Instagram reel that you think would make your roommate laugh, pass it along, or offer to bring him or her a favorite coffee drink if you’re headed to the coffee shop. A little kindness can go a long way in building a strong foundation for your roommate relationship.

At Northwestern College, helping you thrive in the dorms is a top priority of our residence life staff. In addition to trained student resident assistants who live just down the hall 24/7, each of our dorms has a professional resident director who can support you as you navigate living with a roommate, homesickness, developing healthy lifestyle habits and more. Learn about our standout residence life experience at nwciowa.edu/residence-life.