When you first move in with your college roommate or roommates, everything is crazy!
School starts back up with classes and events, and in between all the hustle and bustle, it can be hard to sit down with your roommate and thing about your everyday living situation. After the first couple weeks of the first semester, it becomes clear when roommates aren't on the same page.
One idea to help you and your roommate start off on the same page is a roommate contract.
A roommate contract or agreement is one of the most highly suggested actions new roommates in college can take. Some schools even require it in housing! A roommate contract is a clear, yet simple agreement between roommates to help put everyone on the same page about expectations or wants. A roommate contract is not usually legally binding or even on an official piece of paper. For some, it can be a shared google doc or even a sticky note stuck to the fridge.
Regardless, it is a way to hold you and your roommate accountable to each other.
A roommate contract can come in all shapes and sizes depending completely on what you and your roommate expect, want, or need. It can be pages long or just a paragraph, as long as you make sure that everything you and your roommate want to cover is included. Think about these questions as you're writing your roommate contract!
1. How tidy do you want your space or shared space to be?
If you have a shared common area or a joint bathroom, this question can be important! In some cases, you might be interested in a chore wheel or a weekly cleaning day. In other cases, you might agree with your roommate to clean or tidy up as you go. If you and your roommate don't mind a bit of clutter, then that's fine as well as long as you both agree on it.
2. Is sharing ok, and what does that look like?
In the case of sharing or using things between roommates, clear guidelines or even boundaries can be a necessary point. For example, while you may not mind sharing kitchen plates and bowls, you might mind sharing shampoo or conditioner. This question requires a little more specification and is unique to each person. If you would like to borrow something or share something with your roommate, the first and most important thing is just to simply ask.
3. Are there specific times in the day when you would rather there not be a lot of noise?
A college student's life can sometimes feel like it's divided between sleep time and study time, both of which being important. Depending on how you like to study, whether that be with music or without other people in the room, it's important for you and your roommate to clarify that with each other. In some cases, designated quiet time through the school week can be the answer for much needed silent sleeping hours. While everyone is different, there are always extremes, so make sure you know how much noise is too much noise for you and when is no noise a necessity.
4. How do you feel about visitors?
This question is important for a multitude of different reasons. Every person is different, and every different person has their own "space" and their own feelings and boundaries about their space. Space can be literal and figurative. Space might be a dorm room or dorm bed for some. For others, it's a bit more metaphorical as personal space or time alone. This question makes it important to acknowledge when other people can be invited or included in that space. Think about quantity, time, and frequency.
5. Are you comfortable with a roommate that drinks or has alcohol?
This last question can be a pretty personal one, but in college, it's one that's bound to pop up sooner or later. If you are under 21, alcohol can lead to real trouble if you or your roommate are caught. If you are above 21 or your roommate is, it's important to recognize and acknowledge comfort and safety with alcohol or other people consuming it. While this question can be a difficult or awkward one to consider or ask, it is one like the others listed above that's important to clarify sooner rather than later.
Remember that a roommate contract is not a legally binding contract.
Your roommate contract is capable of quick and easy changes. As you get to know and grow alongside your roommate, these questions and the answers might change too, and that's totally ok. Just make sure to remember that when all else fails, communication can go a long way!