words by Skyla Patton

Life in student housing can be a rollercoaster: a new house, roommates, sharing bathrooms and kitchens. Whether it’s a dorm, an apartment or a condominium close to campus, roommate life serves up it’s share of trials and tribulations. It can feel overwhelming, but fear not—many students thrive in a student housing environment, and there are plenty of life hacks to make your ride all the more smooth, and your roommate bonds all the more strong. Check out these tips to make living easier:


Lifestyle Ground Rules 

It’s crucial to set up ground rules about lifestyle choices with your roommates—before problems arise.  Keep these agreements strictly to things that would affect yourself or the household — you’re their roommate, not their parent! Smoking, drinking and other personal choices are entirely up to each individual, but it’s helpful to agree on things like where smoking is OK or not OK around the house, or what to do with empty cans and bottles. Discuss important guidelines like a designated quiet time and how much notice each person needs before inviting friends over. This not only helps keep the house clean and organized, but ensures that no problems arise unnecessarily.

Channel Your Interior Decorator 

Moving into a new space can feel very daunting and emotional when you’re faced with an empty room  or a bare wall after the comforting environment of your parent’s house or previous home. Change is scary, but there’s no reason not to embrace a new room like the opportunity it is — new room, new you. Try to think of it like a blank canvas, and paint it however you feel will make you happy! Get crazy with your room (and shared spaces if your roommate gives the OK) and really make it your own. This will help with feelings of homesickness and the general process of settling into a new home. Check out Pinterest or Google Images for inspiration on new decor or projects you can DIY to add your own flare.

Communication is Key 

Living with roommates, whether or not you’ve already known them, is a delicate balance of your standards versus theirs. It’s important to find middle ground and remember that if you’re frustrated with something, odds are they are as well. Avoiding natural responses like passive aggression (or post-it note battles, we’ve all been there), or bottling up frustration will lead to certain disaster. Remembering to communicate with one another will keep you one step ahead of conflict and prevent unnecessary problems.  Organizing bi-weekly house conversations or agreeing upon basic ground rules in the first week or two will help alleviate dissension and prevent negative tension from arising. Compromise and clear communication are crucial— it can be difficult in the beginning, but the better you get at it, the easier it is to keep the peace and foster a fun, friendly relationship that will endure through hardships. Plus, it’s always nice to actually enjoy the people you live with, right?

Chore Charts

Remember back in elementary school when everyone had a job, and if you did your job well you got a little gold star? Well, sans the gold star (unless you feel like it, no judgement here), a chore or job chart can be a huge help in keeping shared spaces clean and allowing everyone in the house to be fully confident in their responsibilities. This prevents the dreaded battle of Mount Dish, where everyone adds another cup to the pile until you’re all using solo cups and testing the other person’s will to use real bowls and forks. Map out chores, and pick days and time periods to get them done.