For most people, moving in with roommates is one of life’s great inevitabilities. From on-campus dorm rooms and cheap post-grad apartments to new home ownership and beyond, roommate relationships can take place in just about every stage of life. And if you’re lucky, they may even turn into lifelong friendships along the way.
But before becoming best friends with your new roommate(s), you’ve got to start from the beginning. Moving in with roommates for the first time can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. Especially if you’ve never lived with anyone other than family, you might not know what to expect.
Related: Moving in Together? 8 Helpful Tips for Living With Your Significant Other for the First Time
To help you navigate this new chapter, we’ve put together this helpful guide full of first-roommate tips. For the best outcome, pair it with a few of our other moving resources below:
- How to Find a Good Roommate (And Be One In Return)
- What is Coliving and What Are the Benefits?
- Moving Away for College: Practical Tips for First Timers
- How to Break Your Lease the Smart Way
What do you do when you move in with a roommate for the first time?
The truth is: It depends entirely on what stage of life you’re in. The first few months of living with roommates can look different for everybody. Are you moving into your first college dorm room? Have you decided to live with friends post-graduation? Maybe you’re just looking to save money, and splitting the rent with a few roommates makes the most financial sense right now.
Your unique situation will determine what the first few months of living with roommates will be like. For example, if you’re moving into an already established household, you may not need to bring basic furnishings like couches, kitchen appliances, and cleaning supplies. On the other hand, you might be starting from scratch if you’re moving into a brand-new apartment.
Coordinating and communicating with your roommate(s) is the key to starting your relationship on the right foot. Here are a few conversation starters to help you get started:
- Can I provide any pieces of furniture currently missing in the apartment?
- Do you need me to stock up on any cleaning supplies, kitchen essentials, or other household items?
- What does your daily/weekly schedule look like? When do you expect to be home?
- Is there anything I can do to help make this transition smoother for everyone?
How do I live with my roommate for the first time?
Once you’ve established the basics, it’s move-in time. Check out our top 7 tips for fostering a great relationship with your new roommate(s) right from the get-go:
1. Introduce Yourself
This might seem obvious, but the first step in any new roommate relationship is getting acquainted with each other. But how exactly do you introduce yourself to a new roommate? What’s the best way to approach them, and what should you say?
How to Introduce Yourself to a New Roommate
If you feel comfortable, you can start by connecting with your roommate on social media. Starting a conversation online before moving in together can be a great way to alleviate the awkwardness of meeting someone new. Maybe you can even connect on some shared interests!
If you cannot meet your new roommate until you’re physically in your new space together, don’t overthink it. Strike up a conversation with them whenever you get the opportunity. This can be as small as helping them carry in some of their moving boxes or asking if they need help.
2. Have the Money Talk
Past getting to know each other, there are some not-so-fun aspects of living with a roommate. Setting up new accounts, splitting responsibilities, and paying rent every month is among the necessary tasks that keep a household afloat.
It may not be glamorous, but discussing the logistics of paying bills with your new roommate(s) is important. Will one person set up all accounts in their name, or will you collectively share the responsibility? What days are payments due, and how much will they be?
Don’t be embarrassed or shy away from talking about money. It’s a major factor in most roommate relationships and can be a big stressor if it’s not addressed. If you’re responsible for sending your roommate money for bills, always pay them on time. Maybe even a few days early, if you can!
3. Clean Up Your Messes
One of the most common things new roommates argue about is keeping the house clean. More specifically, who does the majority of the household chores. (And who doesn’t clean up after themselves.)
If you’ve lived without roommates for a while, you may be used to cleaning up whenever you get around to it. After all, when you live alone, the only person who will be inconvenienced by the mess is you. On the other hand, if you’ve never lived in your own apartment before, you may not realize all the work that goes into keeping a home clean and organized.
Adjusting to life with a new roommate means learning to clean up clutter around the house ASAP. Frequently leaving messes around the house, especially in shared common areas, can strain and even damage a roommate relationship.
Bottom line: You don’t want to be a messy roommate. Washing your dishes as soon as you’re done eating and leaving the bathroom clean for the next person are a big part of being a courteous roommate.
If chores become a continued topic of conversation, consider splitting responsibilities evenly. Check out Apartment Therapy’s guide for more tips on splitting chores equally among all of your housemates.
4. Be Courteous
When you live with a roommate, it’s essential to consider them in some, if not all of your day-to-day decisions. At the very least, communication with your roommate should be a priority when it comes to any decisions that will affect them.
Here’s an example: You want to have a bunch of your friends over at your apartment for a housewarming party. It’s a good idea to discuss it with your roommate first to see what they’ve got going on. Maybe they’re feeling under the weather, have a big presentation coming up at work, or just aren’t feeling up to it this weekend. Discussing your plans with your roommate can help you pick a date that works for both of you.
5. Learn How to Apologize
Let’s be honest: Arguments happen. Even if you and your roommate get along great, there’s bound to be a disagreement between the two of you every now and again. And after an argument, things can feel awkward.
Learning to apologize and communicate after a fight is a major part of maintaining positive roommate relationships. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s better to face the situation head on and clear the air rather than walk on eggshells around each other. Once everyone has cooled down, take the time to sit down together and talk things out. More often than not, you’ll feel better that you did.
6. Give Yourself Time to Get Used to the New Arrangement
Living with a new roommate or multiple people under one roof for the first time can be overwhelming. Even if you really like your roommate(s), feeling mentally drained and overstimulated after moving in together is totally normal.
How do you get used to living with a roommate for the first time?
Here are a few ways you can help yourself ease into the transition of living with roommates:
- Carve out personal time. Spending time with your roommate is an excellent way to bond over shared interests. But don’t forget to take care of yourself, too! Be proactive about making time for your favorite self-care activities like working out, reading, meditating, or anything else you enjoy doing.
- Set boundaries. New relationships require clear communication and boundary setting. Don’t feel bad about being upfront about what you need. This could be as simple as letting your roommate know when you wake up for work every day or when you need some alone time to decompress.
- Stay connected with friends and family. Your new roommate can be a positive aspect of your life. Just don’t neglect your other relationships in the meantime. Spend time with family and other friends when you need a break or feel like getting out of the house.
7. Don’t Push It
Here’s one of the hardest pills to swallow: You and your roommate might not become best friends. And that’s okay. It’s fantastic if you do, but don’t expect a life-changing relationship to crop up overnight.
Even if you don’t always see eye to eye with your roommate, it’s important to focus on being kind and courteous to maintain a positive living environment for everyone. Who knows, maybe the friendship will come with time!
Is Moving in With Roommates a Good Idea for You?
It’s no secret that roommate relationships can be tricky. But with some time, effort, and maybe even a peace offering of pizza, you can make living with roommates an overall positive experience.
What are your best tips for living with roommates? If you’d like to share your ideas and experiences, feel free to interact with Life Storage on social media. You can also check out our other moving resources for more helpful guides like this one.