Living with other people: a crash course

Photo by Jon Drews

Who you live with in college can be just as important as where you live. Finding compatible roommates, getting along with them and learning how to share spaces with others are critical to having a enjoyable living situation. Although it may seem daunting, the Technique has several tips to lessen the stress of finding and getting along with roommates. 

Look around. 

Sometimes finding good roommates means looking beyond your closest friends. Not everyone is compatible to live together, even if you are the best of friends. There are numerous ways to find roommates online. The Tech Housing portal contains a roommate search tool where you can search other students planning to live in on-campus housing and send them messages after reading their profile.

For off-campus housing, take advantage of the Georgia Tech Subleases, Roommates, Housing & Apartments Facebook group, where other students in the Atlanta area share apartments they are subleasing. Many are looking for roommates for the upcoming year, so this is a good place to find the right fit for you. Posting on your social media is also a good way to get the word out that you are looking for roommates. 

Besides looking online, ask around among your acquaintances, either from your classes or extracurriculars, to see who might be interested in living with you. 

Discuss expectations.

As awkward as it may be, being upfront with potential roommates about your expectations for the next year is the best way to find roommates you will get along with. Important things to discuss include COVID-19 expectations such as masking, having guests over and getting tested. 

Comparing schedules and daily routines is also a good idea. Depending on your apartment or dorm arrangement, you may have your own bedroom, but if there are shared spaces, it is a good idea to discuss expected quiet hours. 

Other topics to discuss are whether you plan on grocery shopping and cooking at the same time, if you will have shared appliances like a coffee machine, vacuum or TV, and whether you are okay with music being played out loud. Will you do most of your studying and socializing in the dorm? Do you have allergies your roommates should be aware of? How frequently do you plan to have guests over?

Talking about these things long before you will even move in together reduces the chance of arguments and surprises later on. 

It might not be as fun as discussing how you want to decorate your room but will save you from future headaches. 

Respect boundaries.

Respecting your roommates’ space and time is very important. Treat your roommates how you would want to be treated. Understand that not everyone has the same habits, and living with other people is an important experience in getting along with others.

However, that does not mean you should never communicate with your roommates about things that you want to change. It can be difficult to confront the people you live with about issues that may arise, but being able to communicate with your roommates and starting discussions is an important part of maintaining a good relationship. 

Clean up.

Doing your dishes, wiping down surfaces you frequently use, taking out the trash and throwing out expired foods are just a few of the many ways to clean up after yourself and respect your roommates.

Discuss with your roommates how you expect to clean communal spaces, like the living room and kitchen. Things like vacuuming and cleaning a shared bathroom could be split up by each person or could be rotated between people. Writing down your cleaning schedule is a good idea.

Set time to socialize. 

Not everyone wants to be best of friends with their roommates — and that’s perfectly fine! 

Getting along with your roommates does not necessarily mean you have to constantly be doing things together.

However, there are things you can do if you do want to improve your relationship with your roommates, like setting aside time to socialize, whether that be watching a movie together or going dorm shopping can be a great way to get to know your roommates.