7 tips for living with other people

Roomie relationships can range from best friends to bitter enemies—here’s how to avoid the latter.

A group of young adults sit around a table in a sunny kitchen. One is painting, one is journalling, and two are reading. Actual student accommodations likely not as nice as pictured. (Photo: cottonbro)

Whether in residence or off-campus, most students end up living with roommates at some point during their time at Dalhousie. I myself have lived with 11 different people since moving to Halifax four years ago! Learning to live with new people can be complicated, but following these easy steps should help you out.


1. Set up some ground rules

People grow up in different cultures, communities, and living situations, which means that everyone will have different approaches to living with other people. You should have a conversation early on to make sure you and your roommate(s) are on the same page. How do you want to handle chores? Are there times when the apartment should be quiet? Do you need to give a heads up before having a guest over? It’s better to answer these questions early on so you don’t accidentally upset your roomie (or vice versa!).


2. Always ask before using something 

This is a super important one. Clothes, makeup, pencils, whatever—always ask before using your roommate’s things. Like all good relationships, trust is essential. And if you don’t trust each other and respect each other’s possessions, you’re in for a messy year. 


3. Don’t rush it 

If you find it hard to hit it off with your room/floor/housemates at first, chill out. In one of my living situations, it took me and my roommates a month of small talk to become comfortable with each other. After that, we eventually hung out almost every evening! Keep in mind that some people simply take more time to warm up than others. 


4. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 

Don’t find out what it means, ‘cause you already know. Respecting the people you live with means not coming home at 3 a.m. and knocking over the laundry bin. It means not hooking up in your roommate’s bed. It means keeping your space and common places like kitchens and lounges (relatively) clean. It means consulting your roommate or housemate before any major redecoration. And it means respecting their personal space and time. 


5. Put in a little extra effort 

Ask about your housemates’ high school experiences, offer to throw in some of their laundry if your load isn’t full, sweep their floor space while you're doing your own. It’s not going to hurt anyone and the favour will probably be reciprocated. Good karma. 


6. Pick your battles

Even in the most ideal living situations, your roommate will inevitably do something to annoy you. In those moments, you should keep in mind that you’ve almost certainly done something to annoy them! Everyone has their quirks that deserve a bit of leeway. There are absolutely moments when you should speak up about issues, but if you’re roommate is generally pretty respectful, it might be good to let the occasional indiscretion slide.


7. Bond 

Because, why not? In my experience, living with someone is exponentially better when you not only get along, but also actually enjoy spending time together. Buy a plant together, make Halloween costumes together, binge-watch Loki together. Do stuff together. 


I offer you this advice because I want you to have positive living experiences. You don’t have to be best friends to be great room/floor/housemates, but living with others is way more fun when you all make an effort to be respectful. If you’re not sure how to pick the right roommates, this article has some great pointers!