Be Proactive to Avoid Problems with Your Roommates

When GVSU students move into their new apartments or townhomes, they are focused on the immediate and tangible problems of moving: carrying their belongings in, setting up their rooms, finding space for everything, and getting settled. Too often they overlook the very important step of communicating with their roommates the practicalities of how they will share their space. Being proactive right away in establishing rules and boundaries for living together can prevent problems, stress, and anger later on.

There are two issues that roommates are most likely to clash over. They are: cleanliness and use of common resources and spaces. At Meadows Crossing our townhomes have four tenants, and each tenant has their own bedroom and bathroom. Having personal space takes some of the strain out of both of these issues, but it’s still important to discuss and come to agreement about things that will invariably crop up.


It is very unlikely that you and your roommates will all share the same ideas of what constitutes clean. Everyone will have to compromise some about their own standards of cleanliness. For some this will mean overlooking a less than pristine kitchen or living room. For others it will mean being more conscientious about cleaning up after themselves in order to keep the peace.

When you move in, sit down with your roommates and decide what the rules are about dirty dishes and about food on the counter or in the refrigerator. Make a schedule for cleaning out the sink and the floors and for vacuuming and tidying up. For some people living in a dirty or untidy environment (especially germ zones like kitchens and bathrooms) is very stressful. For others, it’s irritating living with people they think are “neat freaks.” If you agree on a set of rules, write them down, and post them around the apartment. Disagreements can be sorted out by referencing the written rules without stooping to personal attacks.

Use of Common Resources and Spaces

In Meadows Crossing’s townhomes the common resources and spaces include the appliances in the kitchen, the washer and dryer, the thermostat, and the television. You need to discuss all of them with your roommates. Hammer out answers to questions like these:

  • How will we share these resources when two people want to use them at the same time?
  • Should we establish a television schedule for programs that people feel they need to watch?
  • What temperatures can we agree are comfortable for winter? For summer?
  • When do people plan to do their laundry? Should there be a schedule on the weekend for when each roommate can use the washer and dryer?
  • If guests come over, how long will they be allowed to stay? What if those guests are not considerate or do not respect the established rules? Will they be allowed to use the common resources of the apartment?

If you decide to make schedules for any common resources, post them in those common areas too. It’s also good to agree ahead of time how you will approach people who are not respecting the rules or the schedules everyone agreed to. Finally, you need to agree with your roommates about what you will do if you have disagreements or conflicts about day-to-day problems that will crop up over the course of the year.

College can be very time consuming and stressful. Living with your roommates shouldn’t be. Taking proactive steps in the beginning of your time living together will help take the stress out of this particular equation so you will have more energy to focus on school and enjoying your life in college.

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10745 48th Avenue, Suite B-100
Allendale, MI 49401
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