What to Do When You Hate Your Roommate

Author: Alecia Pirulis  

Thinking about finding a roommate? Do your homework!

When I moved in to my first apartment I was a college student. To save money, I decided to live off-campus with roommates. For a while, everything was rosy. But it didn’t take long for the shine to fade.

I set out to find one and ended up finding three. (Three!) There’s always a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who needs a place — the person I found knew someone else, and she knew someone else … and who can say no to rent split four ways? And after all, we were four college girls — how bad could it be?

We found a large enough apartment and for the first week or so, things seemed great.

Speed forward a couple more weeks and the bad habits began to surface – the emotional drama queen who cried, yelled, or screeched about everything. The alternative-rock diva who blasted her stereo until 3am. The clothes-stealer – I still don’t know what happened my favorite rock concert T-shirt. Needless to say, things fell apart fairly quickly.

I learned this from the experience: do your homework or you could end up with roommates you can’t live with.

We ended up kicking out the rock diva – the music was making us crazy and the neighbors were complaining. But the drama queen and the clothing thief were no bargain, either. Eventually, I took what little wardrobe I had left, bid the two goodbye, and found a situation that worked better for me.

But first, I did my homework. Learning from my first experience, I came up with some basic roommate rules:

  1. Do interviews – have a list of questions of things that are important to you. If you are happy with their answers, don’t be shy about asking for references. Treat it like a job interview.
  2. Set some ground rules (no music after 11pm, no touching anyone else’s stuff without asking).
  3. Iron out how the grocery shopping will be handled – will you each buy for yourselves or pool your money and share in the shopping?
  4. Discuss the rent, due dates and procedures, and the consequences for being late. Do the same for utilities.
  5. Be clear about what is expected of shared household duties, such as cleaning and laundry. If you are neat and your potential roommate is sloppy, that could be an issue – find out now so you aren’t the only one pushing the vacuum cleaner around and hauling out the trash.

Having a roommate can cut down on living expenses for college students and first-time renters, but be sure to set the ground rules ahead of time.