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Be a Happy Roommate

Here are some tips to maintain domestic dorm room bliss (at least most of the time).

Chances are, if you attend college away from home, you will live with a roommate or two—maybe in a school dorm or in a house near campus. The chances are also good that when you graduate and move out to pursue the first job of your career, you’ll want to find a roommate to minimize the cost of rent and utility bills. Here’s what you can do personally, and together, to minimize awkward moments.

Have everyone read the lease.girls hanging out

Before you sign the lease, sit down with your roommate(s) and make sure everyone understands the cost of rent, utilities, and shared services; when payments are due and how they will be paid; and the consequences of late bills or damage to the property. Because a lease is a binding contract that affects all signees, everyone should agree how situations like a roommate moving out early will be handled.

It’s not a bad idea for everyone to have their own copy of the lease for their records.

Make a roommate agreement.

This agreement should include how and when bills are paid, general house rules, and how chores will be divided up. Decide who will have what bills in their name and how you’ll pay each other. House rules and chore rotations can always be changed later if they don’t work out, but this conversation allows everyone to voice their living space preferences.

This may be the least fun part of setting up your new pad with roommates, but laying the groundwork will (hopefully) prevent more difficult conversations later on.

Each roommate needs their own renter’s insurance policy.

Create your own home inventory when you move in and find a renter’s insurance policy that includes personal property protection, liability protection in case anyone gets hurt in your home and sues, and increased living expenses in case you have to move out due to fire, flood, or hurricane damage.

It’s important for each roommate to have their own policy so that an insurance claim by one roommate doesn’t affect everyone else’s premium (the monthly cost of insurance coverage).

Share emergency and medical information.

What should you do if one of your roommates ends up in the hospital? Do they have a family member you should call? Does anyone have a medical condition or allergy that requires medication or immediate treatment in case of emergency?

Have a list of emergency contacts for each roommate in a common space—like on the fridge or on a bulletin board—or better yet, have them in your phone. If anyone has a medical condition or allergy, everyone should know the proper treatment to administer after 911 is called.

Keep communication open, even about the little things.

Passive aggressive notes never work. And neither does staring daggers at the roommate who ate your food. No one enjoys confrontation, but if you keep communication open, conversations about house rules and noise-level preferences will be more like adult conversations and less like mini-battles. Don’t forget to communicate your gratitude as well!

Be open to compromise.

Even with an iron-clad roommate agreement and lease, compromises will still need to be made. By everyone in the home. Open communication and flexibility are key to harmonious roommate relationships.