As a senior who has lived with several different roommates over the last four years, I have had more than my fair share of roommate conflicts.
I have experienced everything from arguments over cleaning the kitchen to not paying bills on time. Regardless of how much you liked each other before you decided to live together, it is impossible to completely avoid conflict.
Still, seven roommates later, there are a few things I wish I had known about to avoid roommate horror stories.
1. Properly vet any potential roommates
Your roommates are not going to always be your best friends from high school, and there’s a good chance you’re going to be looking for strangers to help keep the rent down.
Unless you live in the residence halls and let the powers that be handle that decision, you’re going to be using the usual roommate search options: Facebook groups, personal ads, mutual friends, etc.
It is really important to get to know any potential roommates, and it has to be more than just chatting over a cup of coffee asking if they are typically clean. It will probably take a couple of meetings to really get a feel for how compatible you might be with this person and increase your chances of getting along with them in the long run.
2. Get everything in writing
Don’t ever trust a verbal agreement. Period.
Everything needs to be written down and filed away, emailed and saved or even just screen grabbed in a text message. My roommates and I have a group chat on Facebook where we communicate on all important matters, though I still wish we had written down some general ground rules before agreeing to live together.
Just like you want a paper trail when dealing with landlords, you want something to fall back on when details of an agreement get a little fuzzy or outright forgotten.
Keeping records is not saying that you don’t trust your roommates — you just have to have a way of holding everyone accountable. If your roommates are trustworthy, they will not have any problem with writing down everything.
3. Don’t kid yourself
This is probably the most important tip.
In every argument or minor disagreement you have with your roommate or roommates, remember you’re not perfect either. Every time you think, “I can’t believe them,” remember there is a good chance they are thinking the same thing.
We are all flawed. My flaw is that I can get pretty messy, and I also have pet rats which my roommates aren’t too fond of. We’ve had to compromise a few times.
Not all flaws are created equal, though. There are many arguments where one person is more right than the other, but recognizing your own part in the conflict makes coming to a compromise much more painless.
Kelsey Kendall is a senior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]