Posts filed under 'roommates'

Split It: 5 Things You Can Share with Your Roomie

When I first moved away to school, I was a little shell-shocked by how much it cost to enjoy the luxuries of non-ramen food and brand-name laundry detergent. To keep our wallets happy, my roommates and I quickly figured out what we could share (and to keep the peace, we figured out what we couldn’t, too–hands off my Ben & Jerry’s, guys). If you want to live a little without breaking the bank, think about splitting these 5 things with your roommate, BFF, or significant other.

  1. Costco Membership (and Food). Buying in bulk at Costco can save you a ton of money if you plan ahead, but it also means you have to pay the membership fee AND consume in bulk–unless you share. Split the cost of a membership with someone you trust (or if you can piggyback on your parent’s account, even better!) go shopping together. Members can have one extra bill per trip, so they can bring a friend. Divvy up things you might both need, like bulk food, TP, shampoo, etc. (Tip: If food sharing is an issue, divide up your items before eating time comes around, and be sure to label or keep them in your own spot.)
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  2. Netflix Subscription. My roomies and I really enjoyed hanging out and watching movies, so when we ponied up the cost of ¼ rent, utilities, and water, we also split a Netflix subscription 4 ways. You can either agree on things to watch together, or figure out how to make sure each of you has 1 DVD to rotate (AND access to the instant watch feature, which sucked up a good portion of my free time this summer).
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  3. Carpool/Roadtrip Costs. If you or your roomie drive to the same place everyday (like, um, school?) why not go together and halve your gas costs? And if you’re heading home–or off to Vegas–for spring break don’t go solo for the drive. Get a group together and split the cost of gas and hotel stays. Driving with the right bunch is way more fun than going it alone anyway!
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  4. Textbooks. I’ve mentioned before that sharing a textbook with a classmate can be a great way to save some cash (they’re so expensive!), but you will need to work out a rotation for the actual reading time. Still, cutting the bill in half might be work a little extra scheduling. (Check out this article about how to save on textbooks for more ideas.)
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  5. Appliances. If you and your roomie can be respectful of each other’s property, there’s no reason to bring two of everything. Share fridge space, split TV time (or find some common ground–maybe you can bond over some reruns of Ninja Warrior?), and if you need a land line, share a phone. Just be sure you draw lines (i.e. which fridge shelf is who’s, and how you feel about sharing your iPod, computer, etc.) before the sharefest begins.

Anything else you’ve successfully shared or big flops we should avoid? Let me know in the comments!

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Add comment July 14th, 2011

Review: 50 Clever Lifehacks for College Roommates

Getting along with a roommate is a far cry from living with a sib–they don’t have to love you, you don’t have the comfort level to call them out, and you can’t turn to Mom and Dad for mediation purposes. That’s why I wanted to share an article I recently came across called 50 Clever Lifehacks for College Roommates, and give you a taste of my favorites from their “lifehacks” list (with some annotation from yours truly).

1. Be Courteous During Illnesses. This goes both ways, people. If your roomie is sick, let them get some rest and help them out if you can. If you’re sick, try to keep your room as germ-free as possible (wash your hands, keep surfaces clean) so your roommate doesn’t catch your bug. For more tips, check out my past articles My Roommate is Sick, Now What? and What to Do if You’re Sick in College.

2. Communicate!!! Let’s face it–communicating (especially when you’re resolving serious differences) isn’t always easy. That’s why its so important to set roommate ground rules early to help you (hopefully) avoid trouble down the road, and learn how to handle roommate problems if things get a little sticky. Whatever you do, don’t just wait it out and hope things will get better! Start practicing open, honest, and kind communication skills ASAP.

3. Write Everything Down. Really. Keeping a record of house rules, a calendar with utility and rent due dates, and other important info on paper will help everyone be mindful of your house rules (and make it easier to avoid the drama of someone forgetting rent or having a party in your place during finals week).

4. Avoid Smack Talk. You don’t have to be friends with your roommates–in fact, you don’t even really have to like them a lot–but you do have to respect them if you want to get along. Having personally had a roommate who didn’t always follow this rule, I know how hurtful it can be–and how much of a strain it can put on the relationship. Your roommate will be much more likely to listen to your concerns and help you out when you’re in need if you’ve been respectful–both to his or her face and behind his or her back.

5. Invest in Earplugs. They’re cheap, effective, and can save your roommate-hood if you have a roomie who stays up late, gets up early, or otherwise tends to disrupt your sleep hours. (Be sure you can still hear your alarm clock, though!). If your roommate is more than the usual shower-and-change-clothes kind of noisy during your sleeptime, though, see item 2–communicate!

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1 comment November 18th, 2010

Freshman Prep: 5 Things to Discuss With Your Roommate

So, you’re moving somewhere new, with a brand new roomie–fun! Make the fun last all year by getting the business side out of the way now.

1. Your Gear
Separate fridges might sound like a great idea, but with a teeny-tiny dorm room, you’ll want to keep the gear to a minimum. Chat with your roomie about who will be bringing what–TV, mini-fridge, microwave, etc.–so you don’t end up with duplicates.

2. Sleepovers
Overnight guests (of either sex) can be a touchy subject if you approach it, say, while the guest is already asleep in the room. Figure out now how you feel about friends staying the weekend, boy/girlfriends staying the night, or little sibs dropping by unannounced.

3. Sharing
Some people are happy to share anything from the food in the fridge to clothes, text books, or even their car keys, while others prefer to avoid confusion and keep things separate. Talk to your roommate (honestly) about your sharing preferences, and try to find a common ground.

4. Ground Rules
While sleepovers and sharing are usually the most debated issues, there are lots of other little things–from study habits to how many times you can hit the snooze button–you might want to settle ahead of time. Check out this handy article about laying down some ground rules to help keep the peace.

5. Each Other
If your roommate isn’t feeling anti-social, try to learn a little bit about his/her personality, family, likes and dislikes, and share something about yourself, too. Finding common ground now will make your first few days together way more fun.

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1 comment September 6th, 2010

My Roommate is Sick, Now What?

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Nothing puts a strain on your relationship with your roommate like a continuous hacking cough disrupting precious hours of sleep time. Here’s what you should do if your roommate gets sick.

What to Do for Your Roommate
Chances are your first response to a sick roommate is more focused on you than on him or her. Let’s face it—its human nature to want to make sure you don’t get sick. I’ll get to that in a minute. Now, if you want to keep having a good year with your roommate (and have an easier time when you get sick later on) try to show a little consideration:

  • Ask if You Can Help. You don’t have to do their laundry or anything, but it can really help if you offer to do something little like pick up some Tylenol, drop off a homework assignment, or snag an extra sandwich when you hit the dining hall. Remember, you get what you give.
  • Let Your Roomie Rest. Trust me on this—if your roommate doesn’t get all the rest he/she needs, that horrible nose-blowing at 3 a.m. is going to last a lot longer. If your sick roomie is trying to sleep, keep your headphones on, turn the TV off, and meet your friends somewhere else.

What to Do for You (or How to Keep the Sick Away)

  • Make Your Requests. Okay, so you’ve been the ideal roommate—bringing sandwiches, keeping the noise down, even buying some more tissues with your own money—now you get to ask your roommate for something in return. Whatever it is that’s driving you nuts—the cough, the lack of hand-over-mouth when sneezing—now you can ask your roommate (CASUALY and KINDLY) to do something about it. Cough drops can work wonders!
  • Keep an Eye on Your Hands. Your hands are probably one of the best places to pick up germs. Keep them away from your face—eyes, mouth, and nose especially—to lower your chance of letting those germs in. It’s also really important to wash your hands, with soap, often, and especially before you eat or after you touch anything you share (computer, TV remote, etc).
  • Strengthen Your Immune System. There are a lot of ways to keep your immune system strong, like getting lots of rest (no all-nighters right now!) and eating healthy foods (try to cut back on junk food). A lot of people also feel that vitamin C (found in citrus fruits like oranges, or in the vitamin section at the store) can make a big difference. Also, be sure you stay hydrated (and remember that alcohol dehydrates you).

Okay… good luck!

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3 comments February 7th, 2008

When and How to Change College Roommates

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the line between a less-than-ideal roommate situation and an honestly unbearable one. Last week I shared some tips about how to handle roommate problems, but what should you do if you’ve tried those things and it still isn’t working?

Where to Start
Before you apply for a roommate change, it’s important for you to try to make it work. Aside from giving you a sense of having honestly tried your best, this will also make the housing office (or whomever you have to talk to about a roommate change) take you more seriously if you do decide to apply for a switch.

The first step is simply to discuss what you can do to make the situation better for both of you. If you are having serious problems and can’t work them out on your own, get someone impartial—like your Resident Adviser, for example—to listen to both sides of the story. Sometimes an outside perspective can help you understand each other.

If your roommate won’t agree to talk to any kind of mediator, you should still go to your RA and explain the problem. He or she may have a suggestion about what to do once he/she has more information about your particular situation. At the very least, your RA can serve as a witness that you tried to work out your differences, and can help you change roommates after he/she has seen that you’ve given it your best effort.

When to Change Roommates
Your roommate may not be your favorite person in the world, but if you can work things out, you probably don’t need to change roommates.

However, sometimes there are extreme cases of bad roommate matches—you fight all the time, you have completely different value systems, or one of you seriously disrupts the other’s life. In even worse cases, you might have a roommate who is emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive, severely depressed, or suffering from a condition like alcoholism or anorexia that seriously affects your ability to cope with things, too.
If you find yourself in a situation like this—one that feels hopeless, dangerous, or very uncomfortable—you should probably consider applying for a roommate change.

How to Change Roommates
Every college has a different policy about how to make a roommate change. Some will make the switch for you immediately, others only make changes at the beginning/end of a quarter/semester. To find out what your school’s policy is and to apply for a change, you will probably want to contact the Residential Life or Housing office. Your Resident Adviser can help you figure out where to go to apply for a change.

Consider talking to your roommate about the decision. Approach it calmly and rationally, simply explaining that you both seem to be having trouble making the living situation work, and that maybe a change would be a good idea. In some cases, this can help diffuse the tension between you during your last few weeks of living together (because you can both see the light at the end of the tunnel!). Though it might be awkward, it could be better than having your roommate angry at you if you go behind his/her back to request a roommate change.

It’s easy to keep up on my latest posts—you can get updates via email or subscribe to my RSS feed.

Good luck with your roommate, and feel free to email me if you have questions!

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2 comments November 12th, 2007

How to Handle Roommate Problems

How to Handle Roommate Problems

Want to know what to do if your roommate is driving you up the wall? A couple of posts ago, I wrote about how NOT to handle roommate problems. So now that you know what not to do, here are a few steps you should take:

  1. Get Ready to Talk it Out. Bringing up any kind of problem with your roommate can be really hard, especially if you don’t know each other very well. Unfortunately, talking is a must if you want anything to get resolved. Remember to be nice instead of accusing, and to choose your words carefully. You want to get a result, not get your roommate all angry and defensive.
  2. Fix the Biggest Problem First. Choose the one thing your roommate is doing that you absolutely cannot stand–start there, and be nice! Do NOT start the conversation by bringing up a list of things that drive you nuts. Your roommate will either be hurt or angry, and that will make him/her unlikely to want to work things out with you. Save the little stuff for later.
  3. Review the Ground Rules. If you took my advice in September, you have already set some ground rules with your roommate that both of you agreed on. (And if you haven’t, now might be a good time to do this.) If one of you isn’t following the ground rules, talk about them and see if you need to revise them.
  4. Consider All the Options. Most problems have multiple solutions. If one solution doesn’t work for one of you, see what other options you can come up with. The first solution may not always be the best for both of you. For example, if you can’t concentrate on studying while your roommate is on the phone, you could:
    1. Agree to take phone calls in the hall, common room, or some area away from your room
    2. Agree on “quiet hours” when the room is reserved for studying
    3. Study somewhere else, like in your dorm’s common area or at the library

Remember, it is crucially important to avoid being accusing. Try to make the conversation about how both of you can make the situation better–if your roommate has to abide by a rule, make sure you are clear that you will do it, too.

I’ll be posting soon about what to do if your roommate really isn’t working out. Don’t miss it!

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Good luck!

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3 comments November 5th, 2007

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