After three years of rooming experience, here are my tips on how to be the best roommate. (Please note that I know for a fact I am not the best roommate, but my past two roommates have been incredible, and I learned a lot from them!)
- Be forward. If you have a problem, deal with it right away. If she keeps knocking your towel down or never washes her dishes or shuts the door too loudly… it’s better to deal with it right away, no matter how awkward you feel, in order to preserve the relationship.
- Be quiet. If you wake up early or go to bed late, be respectful of your roommate. For example, this year I pretty much always wake up an hour before my roommate and go to bed an hour or two later than she does. In order to minimize noise, I prepare my bag and my clothes beforehand so that I can be quiet when the lights are out. Also, avoid talking loudly to your mom on the phone without asking your roommate first. Just try to be quiet because sometimes the dorm room is the only quiet place your roommate will have.
- Give them space. You don’t have to be best friends, so give them space! If they have plans on Friday night, you don’t always have to tag along. And if they’re feeling grumpy one day, you don’t have to make them talk to you. Sometimes people just need alone time.
- Invite them often. With that being said, if you can, try your best to invite your roommate before you go out. Ask if she has lunch plans or if she wants to see the movie with you. Sometimes your roommate will be too shy to ask if she can tag along so it’s your job to do the inviting when it is appropriate.
- Ask first. Before doing anything, ask permission. This includes but is not limited to: blasting music, inviting friends over, deciding to remodel the room, vacuuming, letting someone spend the night, etc.
- Plan a weekly roommate date. Even though you probably spend a ton of time with your roommate already, be sure to spend quality time with them! This could be anything from a movie night to working out together to grabbing lunch once a week. My current roommate and I grab meals together and plan hangouts with our other friends over the weekend. My roommate from last year and I plan weekly ex-roommate dates where we go on walks, eat brunch, get bubble tea, and more.
- Remember their birthday; even if they forget yours! Throw them a surprise birthday party. Buy them flowers. Cover their bed in balloons and streamers. As their roommate, it’s your job to make them feel special and a last second post on Facebook is not enough.
- Start a quote wall. Do not underestimate how amazing a quote wall can be. Mine is simple. I just took four blank pieces of paper and taped them to my closet door. Whenever something funny or weird is said, we yell “QUOTE WALL” and run over to write it down with a sharpie. It’s a great bonding experience.
- Introduce your friends. Again, you and your roommate do not have to be besties, and you don’t have to be in the same friend group. With that said, try to make an effort to introduce your friends to your roommate so that they don’t feel awkward around each other.
- Be flexible. In the end, flexibility is key. If your roommate is an introvert, give her some alone time. If she’s an extrovert, plan parties and outings with her! Just have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Who knows? Your roommate may end up being one of your best friends.