Everybody stay calm: You can solve roommates woes

By Cassie Reichert, Staff Writer

After living in the dorms for your first year of college (and maybe a sorority or fraternity your second year), I’m sure many of you will eventually find yourselves living in an apartment or a house with roommates. This time you don’t have a meal plan to go along with your housing, someone to clean the bathrooms or someone to take out the trash. When you decide to live with other people, whether you know them well or not, it’s important to establish boundaries and understand all that goes into maintaining a shared space.

Make preparations before Move-In Day

You’ve already picked the location you’re going to live, which is a struggle in and of itself; now it’s time to communicate with your roommates how you all want to handle living in your new place, which is best to discuss before you’ve even moved in.

I’d first suggest making a group chat with all your roommates to keep track of what everyone’s bringing, bills, groceries and everything else. Before you move in, research and make a checklist of everything a new apartment needs. Share the checklist with your roommates, and figure out what still needs to be bought, distributing the roles evenly among roommates. 

It’s also important to discuss things like who’s going to set up utilities, depending on what your lessor already includes in rent. Whoever is responsible can then send screenshots of the bills and divide it among the roommates for payment. This can get difficult if your roommates forget to pay or just don’t pay at all, but don’t be afraid to keep reaching out until they pay you back. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Create a grocery game plan

Once you’re all living together, you’ll obviously have to eat. This typically requires grocery shopping, so discuss with your roommates if you want to share a grocery bill, or buy all of your own food. If anyone has any food allergies or intolerances, I’d suggest buying your own food so they don’t have to pay for food they are not going to eat. Also, make sure to let them know if you don’t mind sharing food, but be respectful of their food if they don’t want to share theirs. If you’re bringing small appliances, make it known if anyone can use them or if they have to ask to use it.

Find balance in reciprocity

You will probably have a shared living space of a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room, so all of these areas should be kept clean, and you all need to be held accountable to clean up your own messes. If you notice your roommate washed all your dishes, next time you see dishes in the sink, make it a priority to clean them for your roommate. But if you find yourself constantly having to pick up your roommates’ messes, don’t feel bad about reaching out and respectfully letting them know how you want them to step up their responsibilities. 

Don’t be afraid to have a respectful chat

That brings up communication. Because you live with these people, you, of course, want to maintain a good relationship in the house. If you have an issue, you might be afraid if you bring it up they’ll be annoyed or it’ll be awkward between you. It is essential you address the issue; after all, you’re all paying equal amounts to live there, and you deserve to live as comfortably as your other roommates are. However, this is why it’s extremely important you handle all confrontations respectfully. Think of how you would want your roommate to speak with you, and proceed in a similar way. You also need to think about the balance between getting what you all want and compromise. Sometimes it’s better to just take the high road than be petty about small things that annoy you. This can be difficult to do, but try your best. Another side of communication involves letting each other know about things that are going on in your life. You don’t have to share everything, but if you’re going out of town let them know; if you’re having people come over, ask if it’s OK first. Another thing I’d suggest is to share emergency contact information in case anything bad happens to one of you. 

Being roommates is more than just being annoyed and dealing with issues. Roommates, if not already, can turn into great friends. So spend some time with them, offer them food if they haven’t had time to go to the store in a while, wish them luck on a test they’ve been studying for all week; whatever it is, don’t forget to enjoy the good times with your roommates.

Cassie is a sophomore in Business.

[email protected]