Inviting your best friend to be your roommate may sound like a great idea. You can reduce your living expenses and spend more time with someone you like. Plus, you’ll avoid starring in your own interesting Craigslist story that could involve calling 911 or just having a stranger eat your food.
Then again, being friends doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be compatible as roommates. In fact, familiarity may be less important than your ability and willingness to listen to each other, cooperate, and compromise. Take a look at this checklist before you move in together.
Friends as Roommates – Communications
Open and respectful communications are essential for any shared living arrangement. The way you treat each other may be even more important if you want to hold onto your friendship as well as your lease.
1. Prepare for new issues. Cohabitating often creates situations that you haven’t encountered before. Maybe you didn’t notice that one of you is an early riser and the other is a night owl. Expect a few surprises.
2. Speak face to face. Forget about leaving the kind of passive aggressive notes that humor websites love. Meet in person to discuss your concerns in a friendly atmosphere.
3. Hold house meetings. Some structure can help you stay on track without putting a damper on your socializing. Schedule a weekly time to talk about what can be put down the garbage disposal so you can save coffee dates for fun stuff.
4. Protect your privacy. It’s okay to keep some time and information to yourself. Honor each other’s limits.
5. Branch out. Take a break from each other occasionally. Cultivate other friendships and interests.
6. Act promptly. Resolve small conflicts before they grow into something uglier. Resentments rarely go away by themselves, and you’ll become more skillful each time you tackle a challenge directly.
Friends as Roommates – Other Ground Rules
Even if you’ve know each other since kindergarten, it helps to put things in writing. Address the main issues before any differences arise.
1. Clarify borrowing. Do you want to ask permission or help yourself to each other’s clothing and protein bars? How are you going to handle household supplies like toilet paper and glass cleaner?
2. Define common areas. Maybe you want to organize your kitchen like one family or you prefer separate cabinets. Any arrangement is okay as long as you can agree on it.
3. Decorate your space. Pool your resources to create an attractive and functional living space. Remember that you’re in this together, and you can try again if it still looks mismatched.
4. Manage your finances. Money matters can be tricky. Decide in advance if you want to split the bills in half or divide expenses another way. Online banking and reminder apps make the details easier. Also consider what you’ll do if one of you falls behind in making payments.
5. Create a guest policy. Romantic partners and other visitors who stay overnight or appear to take up residence in your living room can be a sensitive topic. Consider your roommate’s comfort level, and ensure guests follow the house rules too.
6. Share chores. One advantage of having a roommate is taking turns with mopping the floors and taking the garbage out to the curb. Rotate tasks and create good will by occasionally volunteering to do a little extra.
Today, many adults are rooming together at different stages of life from college students sharing dorm rooms to seniors using cohousing to stretch their fixed incomes. Living with a friend can be a lot of fun if you manage your expectations and establish basic rules.