One of the best parts of college is the opportunity to move out of your parent’s house. Many students share a dorm, house, or apartment while they attend school as a more affordable option than living alone. Roommates can make or break your college experience, but it’s important to learn how to live and get along with other people who aren’t related to you. Even if you know your roommates, take a moment to discuss these five things before you get settled in.

Splitting Costs

While you’ll pay rent directly to your property manager, there are still some costs that you’ll need to split with your roommates, like the cost for cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, or trash bags. Make sure one person isn’t always paying for these things. Some groups of roommates have found that pitching in $10 a month each for apartment amenities has worked for them, while others simply split the costs.


Before you move in together, talk to your roommates about their cleaning habits, or what they don’t mind cleaning. Maybe you have roommates who don’t mind cleaning the bathroom, while you can clean up the kitchen. Once a week, you can make sure those areas are clean. Some apartment complexes (like American Avenue!) do a clean check where the manager comes by to inspect each apartment. They assign cleaning duties which makes it easy for you and your roommates to rotate to a different chore each week.


Getting to know your roommates is important. Do they have a significant other? Are they party people with a ton of friends? Are they a homebody? Do they have friends and family that like to come and visit?

Knowing these things can prepare you for what lies ahead during the semester. A general rule of thumb is to always give your roommates a heads up if someone is going to be coming over. A couple of hour’s notice is usually good enough, but if you are having a party or someone is sleeping over, let your roommates know further in advance.

Shared Space Expectations

Roommates share a kitchen, living room, and bathroom—these spaces are bound to get messy and cause contention if expectations are never expressed. Instead of ignoring problems and being passive-aggressive toward your roommates for the rest of the semester, express your expectations for shared spaces right away. Talk about when you expect your home to be quiet and how you expect people to do their dishes within a reasonable time. By sharing your expectations with your roommates, it will decrease any contention that can build if not discussed.


It’s hard to understand the stress and pressure your roommates are under if you can’t visualize it. So, at the beginning of the semester, draw out a calendar of work shifts and class times to understand just how busy your roommates are. Having a clear calendar also helps if you want to plan a time to get together each week to make dinner or clean.

Before you hang up all your clothes, claim a fridge shelf and cabinet for food, or make your twin-sized college bed, have a chat with your roommates. Convey your expectations for the semester, listen to your roommates’ hopes, and come up with solutions to foreseeable problems early to make it the best semester possible.