Creating good vibes with your new roommate

blog-creating-good-vibes-roommate.jpgYour residence community and routine is changing every day in response to COVID-19—and you might be seeing your roommate a little more often. Times are uncertain and challenging but your home should be where you can always unwind and relax.

Building a positive relationship with your roommate is important, whether you want a new BFF or just someone who won’t eat your leftovers.

If your roommate situation is just short-term or for the long haul, you’ll find yourself happier and healthier if your roommates are happy and healthy, too. Check out our 5 favourite tips and tricks for getting off on the right foot!

1. Treat your roommate how they want to be treated

Everyone wants to be treated with respect—but always check your assumptions at the front door before meeting your roommate. Ask them what they expect from living in a shared space. Will you share pots and pans? What about groceries? Are they a night owl or an early bird?

You might be fine with your roommate inviting friends over, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically cool with your squad kicking around. Don’t make assumptions or rely on common sense and talk out expectations and boundaries from the start.

2. Fill out your roommate agreement

Talking about your boundaries and needs can be awkward. After all, who wants to feel like they are making all the rules or being perceived as high-maintenance? Roommate agreements are a great way to get the conversation started and help navigate challenging topics from cleaning to sharing essentials.

Will you share dish soap with one another? What are expectations for keeping common areas clean? These are the types of discussions the roommate agreement can help you with. You can find roommate agreements by scrolling down to your building on the Current residents webpage.

3. Clean up after yourself

The two most common causes of roommate conflicts are noise and cleanliness, and cleaning can mean so many different things to different people. Keeping your residence unit clean is so important right now—it reduces exposure to potential illness and keeps everyone healthy and limits the risk of pests.

Your roommate agreement can help you determine your expectations around cleanliness, but cleaning is an ongoing commitment. Thinking about whether your expectations will change when you’re busy and how often you want to do dishes or take out garbage can help ensure that both you and your roommate aren’t stressed out by life in a chaotic environment.

4. Talk it out at the first signs of conflict

No matter how good our intentions, we are bound to bump heads every once in a while. It happens! You won’t see eye to eye on everything, so talk concerns out with your roommates when they arise.

It can also be uncomfortable bringing up your concerns but it’s always better than waiting for them to pile up. Discuss your issues while they’re small—and it’ll prevent bigger conflicts down the road. Here are some tips:

  • Refer back to your roommate agreement
    Is there anything that needs to be changed or updated? Consider reviewing it a month or so into living together to see how things are going.
  • Talk to Res Life staff
    Your Resident Assistants (RAs) and Residence Coordinators (RCs) are available to help coach and support you through roommate conflicts. Reach out to reslife@ualberta.ca to be connected to support.
  • Check out campus resources
    One example is the Peer Support Centre which helps you roleplay and practice difficult conversations. It also features advice from peers who can relate to your experiences.

5. Offer (and ask for) support

You and your roommate will see one another on good days, bad days and everything in between—so don’t be afraid to tell your roommate what you need! Do you need someone to talk to? Need time alone? If you don’t articulate it, your roommate will never know.

We can all use a little help sometimes, especially during times of crisis. Kindness goes a long way so remember. When your roommate gives you what you need, remember to return the favour and offer patience and compassion.