The first year roommate situation. Whether you’re planning on living with your best friend that you’ve known your whole life, a random person, or someone you feel you have not yet met but adequately stalked on social media, there are certain things you need to find out about the person you will be sharing a space with for one year. We will split these questions up into two parts – but trust me. It’s better to be informed.
PART ONE: CHOOSING A ROOMMATE
You want to live with someone that has similar habits to yours. Be honest with yourself when answering these questions because even if you do not want to come off as high maintenance, at the end of the day if you answered dishonestly that will become evident by your behavior.
- Are you a morning or a night person?
- Do you drink? And if not, would you mind living with someone who did?
- Do you smoke? And if not, would you mind living with someone who did?
- Is cleanliness of the room important to you? And if so, how much? (Don’t be afraid to get into specifics here – cleanliness is relative. I count leaving dishes unwashed for more than 48 hours as heinous. Some people call that “letting them soak.”)
- Are you a light or heavy sleeper?
- Do you snore?
- Do you plan on using your room as a study space? (This might seem trivial and may change, but if one person demands quiet to get work done all the time and the other works in libraries and cafés and uses the room to unwind, that could lead to tension.)
- How do you feel about letting people (friends, paramours, significant others, etc.) spend the night?
Maybe there are some other areas of life that are important to you that would want to include in the initial screening – likes and dislikes, religious practices, food allergies. Don’t lead a Spanish Inquisition against an individual, but if something matters to you and you want to know about it – ask. At the same time, always remember to be respectful of different lifestyle choices or opinions.
PART TWO: THE ROOMMATE CONTRACT
UVA Housing has every pair of roommates fill out a roommate contract. You have probably vetted people through the roommate selection process – unless you went with a random roommate, which does work out. Now that you’re at school and have some idea of what you do and do not want going on in your room, it’s time to fill out the roommate contract.
The biggest advice I can give here is speak up. Say what bothers you, what you will probably like to do, and do not be opposed to comprising.
- On Schedules – Figure out if there needs to be designated quieter times, loud times, whatever the case may be. Most people will agree that some of the best moments are coming home to an empty room, so exchange class schedules at a minimum. Even if you really like your roommate, alone time is more difficult to come by in a shared space and should be treasured accordingly.
- On People Spending The Night – If that is something both you and your roommate are alright with doing, then learn to balance it out. If you are bringing the same person home every night, maybe take turns going back to their place or yours for your roommate’s sake. If you’re bringing home different people every night, then be respectful of your roommate, their sleep schedule, and especially their school schedule. And if people are visiting you and staying with you, be sure to ask your roommate as a common courtesy if that is acceptable.
- On Cleanliness – Really get into what you think is ok and what is not. I’m not going to rehash this, just make sure expectations are set about taking out the trash, food lingering, dishes, dirty laundry, etc.
- On Having People Over – Hosting people takes many forms. I don’t think of dorm rooms as the ideal party spot, but if you’re into that, make sure your roommate is as well.
- On Locking the Door – You should always lock your door (I say) to protect your belongings, but it doesn’t matter what I think – find out what your roommate thinks.
The “we’re just different, different roommates” sketch at the beginning of the year is kind of cheesy and very easy to make fun of. Plus, it touches on some very serious issues that many people do not deal with or initially find it hard to relate to. That being said, it does hit home about the awkwardness of addressing someone you have to see every day about a problem you have or something that concerns you.
At the end of the day, it’s all about co-existing. Some days will be easier than others, but remember: it’s just for first year.