How To Survive Living With Roommates After College

Almost everyone who went to college has a roommate horror story. Admittedly, some of us were the roommate horror story. Some people are just not compatible to live together, or with anyone at all. Unfortunately, once graduation hits, many of us have no choice but to live with at least one roommate.

I was lucky enough to get through college living with only one truly unbearable roommate. After freshman year, I lived with my three best friends, and after graduation I moved across the country with one of them. We’re now going on our fourth year living together, and even though she wears all my clothes and I walk around with no pants on and tend to use the kitchen table as my personal shelf, we haven’t killed each other yet.

Here are some important things to help you survive living with a roommate in the real world.

Clean up after yourself.

clean up

While this might seem like something you’ve been told since you were young, it’s good advice no matter how old you are. Your mother is not going to clean up after you, and your roommates (whether you know them or not) certainly do not want to look at, let alone clean up, your mess. You also don’t want to be the one responsible for any infestation, because honestly that’s embarrassing and a hassle to deal with. Clean your own dishes, keep your shoes out of the entryway, and do not use shared space as your personal dumping ground.

Be a decent human being.

decent human

If you’re up late, turn the TV down. Don’t keep lights on at all hours. Lock the front door. If you have to share a bathroom, keep it clean. Replace the toilet paper and paper towel rolls when you finish them. Split the cleaning duties, and respect your roommate’s things. Don’t eat their groceries, drink their alcohol, or use their things without asking. Asking once does not give you free rein over their belongings forever!

Be open about your living styles.

living style

Regardless of how well you know the person you choose to live with, sit down and have a conversation about the things you want out of your living space. If you like to have silence before bed, or enjoy listening to music in the shower in the morning, let them know. Make sure you’re open to their habits as well, so they feel comfortable in their home.  

Establish boundaries.


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This is especially true for significant others and pets. If you come into the living situation with either one, you are responsible for making sure your roommate doesn’t have to deal with any more than they are comfortable with. If you acquire either one during the cohabitation, sit down and talk about the important things like litter boxes, sleepovers, and anything else that affects everyone in the house.

Be honest.


This is possibly the most important thing to remember. There is nothing worse than feeling trapped or unwelcome in your own home. If something is bothering you, you are perfectly entitled to bring it up. If your roommate is messy, has people over too often, or doesn’t do their share to make you feel comfortable in your shared space, have an open conversation about it. This also goes for finances; if you notice that your roommate keeps their lights on all day but you split utilities evenly, speak up. Furthermore, if you end up with more/less space or amenities, figure out a reasonable way to split rent. For instance, my roommate has a much bigger room and en-suite bathroom, so we divided rent to reflect that. It’s not always a pleasant conversation, especially if you live with strangers, but staying silent will only lead to a pent-up explosion.

I personally could not imagine living alone; I think I would lose my mind. I also know that I’m lucky to live with someone that I know so well, because the lines of communication are always open. However, sharing your personal space with anyone, regardless of how well you know them, can be difficult at times. Remember that everyone in the shared living situation has an equal right to speak up for their preferences, and each person should be accommodating (to an extent) to those wishes.

View Comment (1)
  • This is so necessary and exactly what I would have suggested. I love living alone but, with proper communication, enjoy living with my roommate as well. Being respectful of noise, cleanliness, and general up-keep of the apartment are my biggest things. I am also a fan of leaving reminder notes (I had to put a “lock the door” post it up). Thanks!


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