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College Cohabitation: How to Deal with Roommate Issues

Living with other people, whether they are friends, family or complete strangers, can be a challenge. College students tend to live with others for several reasons, be it convenience, to save money or out of necessity. With several personalities shaped by individual experiences living in one space, issues are sure to arise, but luckily, they don't have to ruin the potential for a blissful cohabitation situation. It's been said many times, but the key to making any relationship work is communication, and it's no different with a college roommate. Below are some of the topics that can cause tension in your home with some suggestions on how to deal with them.


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Money can cause tension in any situation, but as a roommate, it is a vital part of the relationship and expectations must be set from the start. From rent to utilities to groceries, a discussion must be had immediately when you decide to move in with another person. If possible, put it out in writing - if you and your roomies can come to an agreement from the start, then there will never be any issues when it's time to pony up your hard earned dough.

Personal Space

Personal Space with Roommates
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When you share a home with other people, regardless of size, it's important for each person to have his or her own designated space as well as some alone time in shared spaces. This is especially true for college students who need quiet spaces in which to study. In most situations, this can be a bedroom, but this should also extend to the shared spaces, such as living rooms and kitchens. Bedrooms should be considered off limits by other cohabitants, and only accessed without permission in the case of a dire emergency.

Shared spaces, if needed for a gathering for study groups or a private matter, should be scheduled with other roommates to discourage conflict and allow for accommodations to be met. This may seem awkward, but if the conversation is had, the arguments can be avoided.


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There are several ways to handle the food in the house. Some roommates opt to buy their own groceries and label their food. Though this may work for some people, in some cases, especially when there's not much food in the home, it can lead to stealing, lying and other issues. If you have the kind of relationship that allows for it, try buying your groceries together. This means going to the store together, picking out things each person likes and also things everybody enjoys and splitting the costs. This way everyone can eat anything that's in the house and there will be no hard feelings. This can be an issue if some roommates eat out a lot, or others spend more time at home. Find the food situation that will work for you, and be clear about it will work.


Dirty Dishes
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When you live in a home, ultimately there will be chores that need to get done - cleaning dishes, sweeping, vacuuming and taking out the trash, just to name a few. The daily and weekly chores can cause conflict, especially when one or several roommates are not doing their share. Chore charts are a common find in a shared living space. This is a perfect way to set expectations and communicate them with household members. However, when crafting a chore chart, everyone in the house must be present. In some cases you may be able to agree on a standard set of duties that each person is always responsible for, and in others you may want to rotate the chores so everyone does each on a regular basis.

Guests and Parties

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When you live with others, there will no doubt be friends, family members or other guests that visit the home. As long as these visits are cordial, non-permanent (no one likes a "couch-surfer" whose overstayed his welcome) and occur infrequently during normal waking hours (late-night visits that wake up roommates can start conflict), there's likely to be no issues. Of course there will be the friends that are less considerate, or long lasting, loud parties. As part of your roommate agreement, discuss guests and what times they should stop by, and how many are appropriate. If each roommate takes responsibility for his or her own guests, situations are less likely to get out of control.

Pet Peeves/Habits

Roommate Pet Peeves
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Ultimately, there will be individual personality quirks, bad habits and other issues that will come up. These can be harder to handle, as a simple chart won't help. Through understanding, you can often learn to accept these habits, as you most likely have some flaws that will irk your roommates as well. If it's something simple like occasionally leaving the toilet seat up or leaving the lights on in the house, it may not be worth a discussion. Bigger issues like smoking in the house; throwing incessant, unruly parties; or leaving the oven on in the middle of the night will need to be addressed. When you find something that bugs you about your roommate, tell him why it bothers you and ask him to point out something that you do that bothers him. This simple understanding can potentially lead to some self reflection and tighten the bonds of your friendship.

If you go into your living situation knowing the challenges and discussing them openly, you are sure to build a very enjoyable household.

Nicole Cormier is a hip-hop head with business ambitions who stumbled awkwardly into journalism in 2007 as Colorado Music Buzz's hip-hop editor. Nicole quickly became infatuated with Colorado hip-hop and devoted thousands of words to creating awareness of the inconspicuous yet insanely talented community. Nicole is the publisher and editor of the Colorado hip-hop e-magazine, and is also the Colorado Hip-Hop Examiner

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