The First Rules To Set Up With Your College Roommates

By Danielle Wirsansky on October 15, 2016

Moving into an apartment and living on your own (the beginning of your freedom) is one of the highlights of college. Except most college students cannot afford to actually live on their own. So while you might be living away from family you will most likely not be living on your own but with a roommate instead.

And one of the best ways to make your independent living adventure everything you wanted it to be and conflict free is to set up some preliminary rules with your roommate. Read on to learn some of the first rules that you should initially negotiate with your roommate for happier living.

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Utilities

Having utilities like electric and water are things that a lot of college students take for granted. When they move out on their own for the first time, they just assume that their apartment will be provided with those things. Well, you know the old adage about those who make assumptions, so do not be that person.

Know in advance of your move-in that someone needs to set utilities up (and know if your apartment complex provides any of those utilities because sometimes they do) and it is their responsibility to make sure the bill is paid on time so that your power and water are not turned off. This does not mean that you or your roommate must foot the bill by yourself (unless that is how you choose to split the bill). But it does need to be in someone’s name and that person has to be responsible for it.

It is best to have each of you take out one of the utilities in their name so that the responsibility is shared and one of you does not begin to feel resentful of the other because you have so much extra stress on your shoulders trying to get the utility payments in on time. Whatever the amount each bill is you each pay your equal share of it. Fair is fair after all.

Payments

Payments go hand in hand with utilities but there are often more payments that have to be made that do not have to do with utilities. There is rent as well as cable/internet that needs to be paid too.

Make sure you understand the rent paying policy of your apartment complex because sometimes it is not as easy to pay as expected. How early can you pay? How late can you pay? Is there a penalty fee if the rent is paid late and are both roommates held responsible for it? Is your rent actually split and each of you hold responsibility only for your half of the rent or does the apartment complex not care who pays as long as the total amount is paid? This means if one roommate does not pay then both suffer, something you definitely want to avoid. Are you even able to submit both halves of the rent separately or are you only able to pay the rent in one lump sum payment?

Then you have to decide which of you will pay and how you want to handle that — one of you pays the entire rent, alternating each month, or one of you sends half to the other in order to get it paid. There are several great apps that make transferring money as easy and smooth as possible so that you and your roommate can be sure that rent and all other payments go through on time.

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Guest Policy

One of the worst things about roommates can be their friends or significant others. They might be great people but not when they are in your apartment all of the time. And once people get into a rhythm with the semester, it can be hard for them to change it. It is best to establish the rules about when and how many guests you feel comfortable with your roommate having over before it becomes a problem and causes resentment to stew.

You want your relationship with your roommate to be as copacetic as possible while still feeling comfortable in your own home so be clear from the get-go if something makes you uncomfortable.

Pet Policy

Every apartment complex has its own pet policies which you should know, but if you or your roommate wants to have a pet of your own, you need to create your own pet policies within your apartment. Pets like fish are not a big deal unless they are going to be kept in a common area, and if so, must be discussed so that you and your roommate are okay with the situation.

Check for allergies because pets often invade every space and their allergens cannot be contained within one space. Make clear your expectations for the animals care and upkeep as well. If you do not want responsibility for your roommates’ pet or vice versa you need to make this clear immediately.

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre and a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a second year graduate student in FSU's History department where she serves as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor).

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