Tips for Living With a Roommate

Two young women are moving into a new room in a dormitory
Two young women are moving into a new room in a dormitory

Communication is key. It’s an important life skill that heavily impacts our relationships. Specifically, communication is key in having a successful relationship with your roommate/s. When living on your own for the first time, there comes new lifestyle changes. Besides learning how to cook on your own or getting used to doing your own laundry, there also comes learning how to live with a new person. 

There are multiple avenues you can take when it comes to roommates. In Ball State first-year dorms, almost all residents will be bunking with a roommate. Since there is the option to choose your roommate, it is possible you might be living with someone you already know. However, if you haven’t met them yet, Ball State actually offers you a few ways to get to know your future roommate. 

If you chose a random roommate, Ball State will let you know who that person is a few months ahead of moving in. From there, you can get in contact with them through social media and discuss hobbies, as well as important info such as who's buying what for your dorm. Once you move in, make sure to establish “ground rules.” This can be anything from what your schedules are like so both of you know where the other will be or which side of the room you’ll each be taking. 

In situations of moving in with someone you already know, most of the topics of conversation like hobbies and schedules are things you already have covered. It's important to remember even though you might have a preexisting relationship with the person you’re moving in with, knowing someone as a friend and living with someone can be completely different situation. Though you might get along with someone normally, maybe they don’t pick up after themself, or they stay up all night blasting music. Living with someone is quite different from hanging out with them in regular circumstances. 

While living with a roommate, it is very possible you might run into a conflict or two, especially when sharing a small dorm space. Maybe they’re too loud while you’re trying to study, they let their trash pile up in the room, or they borrow things without asking. Mental Health America has some tips on what to do in this situation

First, make sure that you have set boundaries with your roommate. This includes coming up with cleaning rules, discussing your comfort level with visitors and how long they can stay and determining “quiet hours” that work for both of you. If your roommate is consistently breaking these rules that you’ve set together, the first step to take in this situation is to try to have a conversation. If it’s something that you’ve already set rules for, the solution can be pretty simple. However, according to Mental Health America, if it is a new situation, you will have to negotiate something that works for both of you. Ask your roommate, “What do you think we should do?” or “How can we fix this together?” Be honest with them if something is bothering you. It is possible they had no idea you had a problem with it. Try to come up with a compromise that will benefit both of you. 

Of course, not all situations can be solved this way. In this case, you might be experiencing a roommate crisis. A roommate crisis can happen from any situation. They are often avoidable through good communication, but at the end of the day, these things just happen. If you have tried talking to your roommate to no avail, it may be time to seek outside help, such as going to your floor RA or getting your landlord or leasing management involved. Once you’ve explained the situation to them, they can help you to resolve the issue. If it gets to a point where you can’t keep living with them, there is normally an option of splitting up with your roommate and living with someone else or moving to a different unit or dorm. Additionally, try speaking with a friend. Someone who is a fellow student may have gone through the same situation and be able to offer you good advice. According to Mental Health America, “A friend may have a suggestion that you have not thought of, or if you are looking for a new roommate, one of these friends might need a new one too.”

Remember that there is a big difference between an argument with your roommate and a full-blown roommate crisis. A roommate crisis is closer to a situation where you’ve tried talking and nothing has worked. Almost all roommate disagreements can be solved by sitting down and having a conversation. Whether it’s living with someone you know or a brand-new person, with proper communication, living with a roommate can also create great memories and a lifelong friend. 


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