We all have heard a story about someone’s “nightmare” roommate. Someone who always leaves garbage everywhere, goes through all of your things, and brings “special friends” over in the middle of the night. “nightmare” roommates are a real thing, everyone gets a bad roommate at some point in their young adult life. However, if you establish some things with your soon to be roommate(s) before move in day, you are setting you and your roommate(s) up for dorm room and roommate goals!
Once you are settled into your dorm you most likely will fill out a contract with your roommate(s). These contracts can help you establish ground rules for all persons living in your room, so if any issues come up later your RA will use this as a guide to see how you can alleviate these issues. However, before jumping into a situation blind you and your roommate(s) should discuss these before deciding on moving in together.
What you need to Establish:
1.What is the required bedtime or “quiet/ lights out” hours?
In most college dorms, there already is an established quiet hours, mine is 11 pm-7 am everyday of the week. However, in your dorm these should be established too. Chances are you and your roommate(s) don’t care or will want to “cross that bridge when you get there”. But it is important to figure out at least when people plan on hitting the hay on a school night and on the weekends. You may decide that there is no set bedtime, but after one person goes to bed you and the rest of your roommates needs to turn off most of the lights and silently do homework or play on your computer. Deciding is really up to you and your roommate(s).
2. Are guests allowed in the dorms?
I am sure at one point you would like to have your best friend, sibling, or boyfriend/girlfriend spend a night in your dorm from time to time. However, others may not be so okay with it. Make sure you discuss guests in the room and whether they can stay the night or not and how long they can stay. Discuss if guests are allowed to stay on a school night, or if you can have friends over during finals week. Maybe you only want guests over if they are the same gender? Chances are most people don’t care, but you never know.
3. Is Sex allowed in the dorm?
I mentioned boyfriends and girlfriends so I need to establish this. As uncomfortable as it may be to talk about, it needs to be even if you all are single. You may think that having sex in the room without telling your roommate(s) can mean no harm done. However, what if they were to walk in on you? Or discover a condom on the floor. To save the awkward explanations later, just talk about it. Establish where in the dorm sex is allowed and when it is okay.
4. Sharing clothing?
This question was an easy NO for me, since I don’t want anyone to wear my clothes. However, you and your roommate(s) maybe more open to the idea. You may even establish that its okay to ask first.
5. Sharing food?
In college, food becomes a sacred thing. Make sure you establish what food (if any) is okay to share. My roommate and I have a deal where items such as bread, milk, eggs, and other basic things are free to share among ourselves. While things such as snacks, leftovers, and candy stashes are not to be shared unless offered.
6. Party? Stay in? Little of both?
I knew a girl who became roommates with someone who wanted to party. She wanted to party too and agreed to be her roommate, however after the first 2 weeks, her roommate went to every single party. Eventually they couldn’t be roommates any more because of how often she came home late and intoxicated. Its okay if you want to party or stay in when you go to college, but make sure you are on the same page with your roommate(s). Make sure you have an understanding of how much someone will party and when they will party. Chances are if your roommate is an active party goer and you stay home all the time, you won’t work out anyways.
7.What do you want out of being roommates?
Do you want a best friend to do everything with you? Or do you just want a friendly acquaintance? It’s okay to want either, but make sure this is established because when your roommate wants to be your best friend and you would rather just not cross the roommate line, some feelings may get hurt.
8. When do you plan on studying?
Like establishing quiet hours, establishing study hours can also be a great thing to do. If you are like me, you don’t really have study hours and just work in the room or go to the library if you need complete silence. Some people however would prefer to have 4-6 pm be a quiet time to study without distractions. Talk about it and see.
This was a big issue for me this year. I am a very clean person, however I wasn’t expecting that my roommate would be an insanely clean person who vacuumed the room at least 3 times a week and would demand that I clean the microwave if there was a spot (Yes it really happened!). Discuss with your roommate(s) about how clean you are. Do you leave clothes on the floor? Dishes in the sink? Do you keep your desk neat and organized? Should there be a cleaning chart made? Talk about what absolutely needs to be cleaned, and what can be left alone for awhile.
10. Calling? Skyping?
Some people don’t want to listen to you talk to your mom about your day, or listen to you talking lovey dovey to your significant other. Establish if phone calls and video calls are okay if the other person is working on homework or is just present. Establish that if someone receives a phone call they have to leave the room to take it or go outside.
11. Doors & Windows?
Establish if its okay to open a window from time to time or not at all. Agree that you only lock the door when you leave or if you lock it at night as well. Talk about if you want to leave the door open so neighbors can stop by.
At the beginning of the year, my roommate was down with attending every event held. However, after the first few weeks she never wanted to attend anymore events and so I never attended any. Establish if you are planning on attending all, most, some, or no campus events. If you really want to get involved with campus life but your roommate does not, maybe reconsider.
13. Contact and Communication?
You most likely already are using the best method of getting in touch with your roommate(s), however, make sure that you have all modes of contacting your roommate(s) in case of an emergency or something else. You and your roommate(s) should also establish if there should be communication between each other on things such as whether you are going home for the weekend, if someone is coming over or staying the night, and most importantly if someone decides to move out sooner than expected.
Weird yet important. Make sure you discuss with your roommate whether they have an allergy to any food item or not such as peanuts, dairy, eggs, etc. Some people with allergies won’t mind if you have peanut butter in the room, however, to some people it may be life threatening if they are anywhere near it.
Most dorms don’t allow pets, mine allows a small fish. However, if your dorm does allow pets make sure you discuss what pets are and are not allowed. Discuss who will take care of the pet when the owner is gone or if the owner has to bring the pet home with them when they leave.
16. Furniture? Decor?
Make sure you discuss who is bringing what to the dorm. My roommate and I split the bigger items; she brought the mini fridge and the futon and I brought the TV and the microwave. Discuss who will bring the smaller items such as the DVD player, the mirror, the cleaning supplies. Discuss the things you want on the walls, if you want lights or not, talk about the colors and style you want.
In my dorm, alcohol isn’t allowed at all even if you are 21 and older. However, each dorm is different. Discuss if alcohol is allowed in the room, when people can drink, if you can have people over to drink, how much alcohol is allowed in the room, do you share alcohol?
Like alcohol, smoking isn’t allowed in most dorms or even outside of it. However, the smell of cigarettes sticks to clothing. Discuss who is a smoker, who isn’t a smoker, if cigarettes and/or vapes can be in the room, is smoking okay? is smoking not okay?
19. What is your “space”?
Is your roommate allowed to sit on your bed? do homework at your desk? store things in your closet or drawers? Is your roommate allowed to sit on your spot on the futon? Is your roommate allowed to use your side of the medicine cabinet? Establish where your boundaries are.
20. What are you going to do if you get into an argument?
Arguments, disagreements, etc. happen with the happiest of couples as well as the happiest of roommates. They happen. It is very important to figure out what will happen when you get into a fight. Will you agree to give each other space? Agree to talk it out? Will you agree to talk to your RA about any incident you may have had? What you do may vary on the situation.
When you move into your dorm you most likely will receive a contract to create ground rules with your roommate(s). Why wait until move in day to establish these rules? Use this handy guide to help you talk with your roommate(s) about your expectations and you are off to a good relationship with your roommate(s) in no time!