4 Tips for Living with a Roommate

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While the pandemic has isolated many from friends and extended family, it has brought us all closer to one group of people: our roommates. Whether that includes your college friends, hometown friends, or your parents and siblings, there is no doubt that conflicts may arise when living in close quarters. Every hour of the day is spent under the same roof with the same people, which can get exhausting. However, I have found it helpful to follow some of these guidelines to solve and prevent roommate issues.

Tip #1: Set Clear Expectations

To make sure everyone is aware of what is expected of them in the household, write it down or talk it out! Be clear about what you want from your roommates and what they can do for you. But remember that this goes both ways: make sure to acknowledge and follow what your roommates want from you. It won’t be helpful if you demand a lot from your roommates, but give nothing in return.

The perfect way to lay out these guidelines is through a roommate contract.

While this is typically done in a college dorm setting, it can be adapted to work in any home! In fact, a study from Boise State University found that creating a clear, exhaustive roommate contract early can decrease the chance of problems arising. [1] In addition, don’t be afraid to have an open conversation with your roommate if they aren’t meeting one of your expectations. They may not even know they are doing something that bothers you, so vocalizing your feelings can help them grow aware of their actions.

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Tip #2: Establish Your Own Space

When a shared space becomes your new 24/7, you’re bound to get a little restless. Feeling like you have nowhere to go to escape everyone else can be extremely stressful.

That’s why it’s vital to demarcate a certain area of your living space as your own.

Even if it’s just your bed or your desk, it can help give you a sense of independence amidst all the space you’re currently sharing. Decorating this space with a few posters or fun trinkets can help make it your own. Some other areas you can make your own could be a certain spot on the couch or somewhere outside like your front yard. Personal space is extremely important to your mental health and your stress levels. [2]

In a study conducted through experimenting with varying levels of personal space invasion, researchers found that invading someone’s space significantly increases their current stress levels. It’s also a good idea to encourage everyone else in your household to do the same! Doing this can keep everyone feeling much more calm and less on edge. Personally, my favorite space is my balcony. I love sitting outside and listening to a podcast or some light music in the mornings, and I find having such a quiet space to myself is always so relaxing.

Tip #3: Be Mindful of Others

Many things that would normally be done outside of your home are now taking place inside. People have work, school, and other responsibilities that must be completed virtually. Become familiar with each other’s schedules and be mindful of roommates in classes or club meetings! You don’t want to bother the people you live with when they’re trying to focus on something important. This can lead to anger and frustration, which can be easily avoided by making sure everyone is aware of what everyone else has going on.

Make sure that everyone’s schedules are visible and acknowledged!

In my college apartment, midterms hit us hard! During the first day of tests, one of my roommates was trying to take her physics exam while the rest of us were being way too loud in the kitchen. Though it was inconsiderate of us to disrupt her test, there was no way for anyone to know, because we had not communicated our schedules. To fix this, we ended up putting a makeshift calendar on the fridge and writing out all of the days and times that we had exams. Our kitchen calendar has honestly been such a game changer! Now, we write down all of our meetings, classes, and tests so that we don’t disturb each other and can be more considerate of each other’s workload.

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Tip #4: Carve Out Time to Do Something Fun

Living with the same people and going through the same routines everyday can get boring fast. That’s why you should all find a time of the week to spend time together. Whether you choose to watch a movie, play a board game, or go for a picnic, you can improve your relationship by spending quality time together.

Carve out a specific time for everyone to participate in an activity together!

When I lived with my family, we all took turns cooking dinner on Sunday night and watched a movie afterwards. It was always fun to try each others’ meals and hang out together on the couch. Now, in my apartment with my college friends, we all watch a TV show together. We try to watch at least two episodes a week, and we try to plan out nights that work best for everyone! It’s so fun to discuss our theories and predictions about what’s going to happen next at the breakfast table the next morning!

Bottom Line

With these tips, you can live peacefully with your current roommates. Just remember to be flexible and understanding with those you live with. We are all going through a difficult time right now, and could use a little empathy!


  1. “Conflict in Residence Halls: A Preliminary Study of the Efficacy of Roommate Negotiations to Reduce Roommate Conflict.” Boise State University Scholar Works. (2009).

  2. “The Relationship Between Invasion of Personal Space and Stress.” Human Relations. (1981).

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