Moving in With Roommates Off-Campus? Create an Agreement!

By Deborah Hutchison

moving in with roommatesYikes! The fall semester is around the corner. While some students are returning to live in dormitories others will choose to live off-campus in rental apartments or houses. Two people or a group of students will decide it might be fun, easy and economical to share a living space together. Even if you can techincally afford to live on your own, you just might not want to come home ot a big empty apartment after class. Did you know that Prince William and Kate Middleton decided to live together with a group of college friends before they were married?

If you choose to cohabitate with someone or a group, make the roommate living experience positive for everyone. Once you decide who you will live with and where you will live it’s time to set expectations and clear guidelines for living together. Sit down and have a conversation with your roommate(s). Take a moment to create a roommate agreement so you all understand what you are committing too.

Here are 7 issues to discuss and agree upon for a healthy living relationship. Avoid misunderstandings or difficulties that may come up due to sharing a living space with other roommates:

1.  Discuss finances and shared expenses

Paying rent is all well and good when everyone pays on time but one person’s idea of time maybe the day the rent is due and yet the other person may think 10 days later qualifies as rent payment full filled.  Who pays for shared expenses like utilities, groceries, and renter’s insurance to name a few best to make those decisions upfront.

2.  Decide on the living space arrangement.

There is usually always a master bedroom. How do you choose who gets it or the only garage parking space? Does one person pay more for the bigger or better space or do you flip a coin? Good idea to discuss this before the movers show up with your queen size bed to find out you lose the coin flip and get the smaller bedroom.

3.  Assign household responsibilities.

Physical house cleaning, grocery shopping laundry…shared or split or? Nothing is more irritating than to come home and find your favorite food gone from the refrigerator or the shared bathroom once again has your roommate’s toothpaste all over the sink.. Yuck!

4.  Define household policies.

Talk about general policies and set guidelines for overnight guests, partying, study time and even pets. It’s one thing to let a roommate bring a dog or cat but will you be responsible if something happens to it? Then again what if your roommate’s pet is a snake are you ok with it …..might want to know before it slithers into your room by accident one day.

5.  Schedule regular meetings.

Not all roommate meetings should revolve around airing grievances! These meetings can function as a way to celebrate how well you are all living together or how you might improve.

6.  Outline specific consequences. 

Consequenses should be outlined for not full filling commitments to the your co-developed guidelines written in your roommate agreement.  Allow for stuff happens but have things in place in the event that guidelines have been blatantly ignored or are causing harm.

7. Commit to your agreement.

We are all different people, whether you’re the studious roommate or the party animal, create clear guidelines and set boundaries with a written agreement. Then sign it and honor it.

Clarity in defined guidelines is a win – win situation. Have the conversation to address positive living arrangements to prevent emotional issues and potential toxic situations. Whether you end up marrying your roommate (Princess Kate today) or are buddies who go your separate ways do yourselves a favor by establishing the details of your living arrangements.

Deborah Hutchison is co-author with Judge Lynn Toler (Divorce Court TV) of the book “Put it in Writing…Creating Agreements Between Family and Friends”.  Deborah is the founder of where she offers written agreements/emotional contracts to help people navigate some of life’s more complicated arrangements with family and friends.

Image: Copyright A Sane Approach 


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