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How to Get on With Your Student Roommate

By Florence Lee

Updated February 27, 2021 Updated February 27, 2021

Student roommates – you either love them or hate them. Many universities now use a computerized system to assign students to share rooms or apartments. You may be lucky and end up sharing with someone you get on with instantly – or you may be matched with someone who seems to have a completely opposite personality to you.

Worried about not getting on with your student roommate? Have no fear; here are some golden guidelines on how to avoid conflict, establish a healthy relationship earlier on, and make the whole experience as enjoyable as possible.

1. Set some house rules

The first thing two or more people should do when living together is to set some house rules. Have a meeting in the first week, and talk about expectations, individual habits and possible issues, and agree on things like who will clean the shared areas each week.

If rules are set, there is mutual respect early on and this can help set the foundations for a happier living environment. This may seem a little over the top, but it will really pay off in the long run. The rules you and your new roommate have agreed upon should be kept, and stuck to at all times (remember if you break them yourself, you can complain when someone else does).

2. Get to know each other’s timetables

Next, get to know your roommate’s schedule. Do both of you have classes at the same time? Are you an early bird who gets up at 7am every day, while your new roommate operates from 5pm through to the early hours? Different people have different paces of life, and it is crucial to understand your roommate’s schedule so you can avoid clashes when you both need some down time. A nice way to keep a reminder is to post up both of your schedules on the refrigerator – this will also help you get to know each other better.

3. Talk things through

Something going wrong? Don’t just moan behind your student roommate’s back: talk things through. If you are unhappy with your roommate’s habit of leaving dirty laundry lying around, or never turning the heater off, don’t keep your frustrations bottled up. Instead, talk it through with him or her, be open, and try to understand the root of the problem. Talking through problems minimizes the chances of a full-blown argument since it’s a softer approach to resolving issues. Likewise, if your roommate raises an issue with you, try not to get defensive; instead focus on finding a solution.

4. Ask before inviting guests

One of the most frequently heard complaints about roommates is that s/he would bring people over at unknown times without notice, make lots of noise, host a sleepover and leave a mess. This is not only disrespectful to the other people in the room or apartment, but creates an unpleasant living environment in which the other people sharing the space may feel unwelcome. If you want to bring people over, tell your student roommate in advance so s/he can choose whether to stay or go, and try to make sure they feel included. 

5. Find time to do things together

Having regular roommate dinners, hanging out and doing fun things together with your student roommate will help develop a better relationship and foster a deeper bond. These activities will also help you both understand each other better, and if you get along well, living together will be a much more enjoyable experience. Go on, have a blast!  

This article was originally published in August 2013 . It was last updated in February 2021

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