5 Best Practices for Respecting Your Roommate’s Living Space

By Victoria Robertson on July 29, 2017

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Living with a roommate involves compromise. When two individuals move in together, especially two individuals that are unfamiliar with one another, personalities and routines may clash, creating a negative situation all around.

When you move in with a roommate, the ultimate goal is to be flexible, understanding, and overall supportive of one another. Part of this support stems from respecting one another and the individual habits that make you unique.

No two individuals are the exact same. For that reason, it’s important to remember that moving into an apartment or dorm room is going to take some getting used to, and you’ll likely have to give a little in some regards.

To help prepare you for this journey, here are five best practices for respecting your roommate’s living space.


1. Think first

You have to remember that your dorm and/or apartment is not just yours. Before you do anything, you have to think of your roommates first. For example, if you used a pan to make eggs in the morning, and you know your other roommates haven’t eaten yet, don’t leave a dirty pan in the sink. Clean it off and put it away for the next person.

This seems like common sense, but it’s very easy to fall into habitual laziness or to forget little things like refilling ice cube trays or using the TV when someone’s doing homework. The bottom line is that you are not the only one living there, and you have to consider your roommate’s needs as well.

You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to make your roommates happy, but you shouldn’t be inconveniencing them unnecessarily either.

2. Avoid spillover

It’s very easy, especially in a dorm room, for your things to spill over into your roommate’s side of the room. Whether your roommate is a neat freak or a total slob, keep your things on your side of the room. Your roommate shouldn’t have to step over your dirty laundry to get to their desk and vice versa.

It’s a mutual respect item in which you (generally) keep your things where they belong, especially when in smaller, cramped spaces.

3. The golden rule

You heard it all through pre-school: “Treat others the way you wish to be treated.” This is easily the most important rule you’ve learned, as it’s entirely accurate. You want to treat your roommate and your roommate’s space as you want yourself and your space to be treated.

In other words, if you wouldn’t want your roommate going through your drawers, don’t go through theirs. If you wouldn’t want your roommate borrowing items or tossing their things on your side of the room, don’t do that to them.

It’s a really simple rule to follow and falls right in line with think before you act. You do not live alone, so you should not act as if you do.

4. Set ground rules

Some roommates are more carefree than others. The best way to determine what type of roommate you have is to have a discussion right away about boundaries. If you have specific items that are deal breakers, share them. They’ll do the same.

This should by no means be a vindictive conversation in which you tell your roommate what they can and can’t do, but rather a friendly conversation to get a better feel for the other person’s personality and style. The more you’re able to communicate with one another, the better.

And revisit this topic throughout the year. If your roommate does something that bothers you, let them know. It’s way better to speak up than to passive-aggressively fight back or to hold it inside until you can’t take it anymore. Communication is key with roommates.

5. Be flexible

I really can’t stress this point enough. When you move in with another individual, there’s necessary give and take. If you aren’t willing to give, things are going to go south rather quickly. It’s essential to the success of your relationship with your roommate that the two of you communicate with one another often and that you are flexible to one another’s needs.

Again, that being said, this does not necessarily mean you have to bend at the knee every time your roommate has a demand. However, you can’t always turn them down either. You both need to see from the other’s point of view and to make changes when necessary. Flexibility will be a strong determinant of your relationship, so be sure that you’re keeping an open mind.

Living with another person for an entire year is not easy. It takes hard work and understanding, and you have to communicate with one another regularly. You may have run the show back at home, but here, it’s all about compromise, and the quicker you learn that the easier it will be to respect your roommate’s space.

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Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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