Your Survival Guide for Rooming With a Larger Group

By Elise Nelson on July 31, 2017

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Living with one roommate is a challenge that students endure at least once in their college career, and there are enough horror stories to prove that it’s tough. But it’s also an important experience that will build your character. It will help you think of someone else instead of just yourself.

If one roommate seems like a crazy ride, then what about three or four? Yikes, right? It’s not going to be easy, but you’ll hopefully become great friends with your roomies by the end of the year. Here are some tips to help you through living with multiple roommates.

1. Create a detailed roommate agreement

You and your new roomies are all moved in. Now what do you do? The next step is to sit down together and make a roommate agreement. The agreement will be a set of basic rules that you all should follow. You aren’t expected to have the same wants and needs just because you live together — compromise is key.

This first meeting with your roommates is the time for you to address any concerns, from quiet hours to guest policies. Be aware of your living habits and apply them to the agreement. If you must change your habits, be willing to.

If a dispute happens at any point during the year, pull out the agreement and check the rules. The more specific you are in the agreement, the better it will be in helping you handle problems. Everyone’s opinions should be considered when drawing up the contract, but be flexible. If you want a pet, but all three of your roommates don’t, majority wins. Keep the agreement in a safe place that you all have access to and respect the rules.

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2. Split the costs of living essentials

Everyone is responsible for their own portion of rent, utilities, and food. You’re all using the same space, so you should all be prepared to pay for it. Venmo is a great way to make paying bills a little easier — the app lets you connect your bank account to pay friends or request money. You and your roommates should all download Venmo and take turns being the “designated bill payer.”

When it’s your turn, you’ll make sure that your roommates send their payments to you on time so that you can pay the bills. Buzzfeed suggests that you “put a calendar in a communal place and write the amount everyone needs to pay on the due date each month.”

3. Food: to share or not to share?

When it comes to buying food, make sure everyone in the apartment knows which food can be shared. Take turns paying for necessities like milk or eggs and get enough for everyone to use. But, when you have a craving for Cheez-Its and you buy a box for yourself, give your roomies a heads up. Don’t just expect them to know the box is yours.

It’s best to do the grocery shopping together when you all have time, but that doesn’t always happen. So, if it’s your turn to do the shopping, buy the group essentials before you buy for yourself, and be cautious of what you pick up.

“Make sure you know everyone’s allergies. You don’t want to buy peanut butter for the kitchen and then have to take your roommate to the hospital because they’re severely allergic,” said Albright College graduate Ashley Canning.

Check out these apps for collaborative grocery lists so you never forget to buy anything.

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4. Schedules, schedules, and more schedules

If you and your roommates aren’t very organized, this will take some getting used to. Making schedules for things like laundry and morning showers will help you avoid future time conflicts. You’ll never be late to class because your roommate is taking too long in the bathroom again!

You should all share your personal schedules with each other to make things a little easier, too. If your roommate is looking for you because they need to borrow your house key, they can check the master schedule and see that you’re in class for the next three hours. Cozi Calendar is a great app for posting everyone’s daily activities in the same place.

It’s also a good idea to have a chore schedule for meals and cleaning. Whose turn is it to make dinner tonight? Who needs to take the trash out this time? These to-do lists will be visual proof that everyone in the apartment has an equal share of work — another conflict avoided.

5. Make time for occasional roommate bonding

You might be thinking, “We live together. How much more time could I possibly spend with them?”

But there’s a difference between just being together in the same living space and being together with the intention of hanging out. Plus, you can live with these people for a year and never really see them because of opposite schedules.

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You don’t have to spend every minute together, and you also don’t have to go all-out when you do bond. Sometimes even just sitting on a couch together to watch TV is enough.

“My roommates and I ate dinner together every night,” said Jon Potts, a junior at Temple University. “Eating together in general was a big thing for us, whether it was going to breakfast or going for a midnight snack. Those are some of my favorite memories.”

Bonding time is a great way to get to know the people you live with. You’ll communicate better with your roommates, and you’ll never be alone when you need someone to relate to.

6. Communicate openly with each other

This is the most important thing to remember when you live with multiple roommates. You’re all adults, so you should never sweep things under the rug (literally — keep your place clean) and forget about them. Everyone deserves a chance to share their concerns. Settle arguments civilly so you don’t have any awkward drama.

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If you have a problem with the way your roommate blasts her music at 6 a.m. when you’re trying to sleep, talk to her about it sooner rather than later. The passive-aggressive note wars you see on Facebook might seem funny but they lead to bigger problems. Be upfront and honest with each other, and address issues as soon as they come up.

Be specific on how you’d like your roommates to change their behavior as well. You can reach a compromise in a mature way, and you’ll all become better roommates in the future.

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By Elise Nelson

Uloop Writer
Elise is a senior at Albright College in Reading, Pa, studying journalism. She hopes to pursue a career in feature writing and editing for a magazine. Much of Elise's time is dedicated to being Editor-in-Chief of Albright's student newspaper, The Albrightian. She is also a member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, and co-hosts a radio show on WXAC 91.3 FM.

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