Living with a roommate can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your 20s. A roommate can be a shoulder to lean on, someone to have marathon conversations with into the wee hours, and a built-in hang out buddy. Sharing your space with another person can also have its challenges, and like any relationship, making it work with a roommate takes a bit of effort.
“Communication is key!” says Paige Wyatt, a recent graduate who’s lived with several roommates over the years. “The best thing about a roommate is having company, a built-in friend you can come home to and share your everyday experiences with. But people can’t read minds. You have to be willing to compromise when you’re living in a shared space, and be considerate of others.”
It’s important to mention things as they come up in order to avoid letting things fester, she adds.
“It’s important to never take anything for granted,” adds Fiona Southworth, who’s lived with her best friend and roommate for years. “My roommate and I still thank each other when we clean up our dishes, or do our weekly chores. Not only does that keep us both on top of our chores, but it feels great to get that little acknowledgment of our hard work. It’s a really simple thing with a lot of payoff.”
Communication is the most important thing to Southworth as well. “Don’t get too upset about the small things and talk about the big things. If something is really bothering you, don’t hold it in. Talk about it and find a solution. Communication is always the key to any healthy relationship.”
“I think it’s also pretty important to have separate friend groups,” she adds. “I like spending time with my roommate a lot. We’ve been best friends for years. But living with someone and spending all of your time with that same person is exhausting. A little bit of absence really does make the heart grow fonder.”
And finally, like many situations in life, having a positive attitude can go miles to ensuring a happy home.
“Compliment, compliment, compliment!” says Southworth. “No one wants to spend time with someone who is constantly bringing them down. Focus on the things you really like about your roommate and tell them. Positivity really helps to foster a great living arrangement.”