Whether you’re moving in with friends or complete strangers, living well with others is a life skill.
Your relationship with your roommates can become one of the best parts of your summer intern experience with a little bit of practice. We all have annoying habits, and happily living with someone comes down to tolerating things you never thought you could and having grace when there’s conflict.
That said, here are five ways to live it out.
1. Talk before you move in
One of the biggest mistakes people make is simply not reaching out to roommates before their move-in date. Set clear expectations and start to learn about your roommates from the very beginning. You’ll have a much easier time after moving in.
Coordinate necessary, communal items among roommates. This saves you money and brings you closer together. Start a Google Doc and assign who should bring toilet paper, hand soap, cleaning supplies, paper towels, trash bags, et cetera. Work together!
2. Make a roommate contract
Following this template from HerCampus.com, try making a short list of expectations before even moving in. It basically consists of simple preferences for matters like bedtimes and standards for cleanliness.
Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you want, but also be willing to give up something for the sake of a happier room. Print it out and sign it, if you want. The important thing is to have a guide for open and clear communication.
3. Assume the best of your roommate
The key to living well with other people? Assume the best when they do things that frustrate annoy you. Don’t let offenses become abusive–obviously if something happens over and over, even after confrontation, the individual has bad intentions and you need to get others involved.
But generally, if your roommate leave drawers open, they’re not doing it to drive you crazy. And if they take a long time in the shower, you can assume they had a really bad day and need to relax. Remember, one day it will be you coming home stressed, leaving your bag and clothes everywhere, and hogging the shower because your boss yelled at you and you spilled coffee on your favorite outfit.
4. Be the best roommate they’ve ever had
One great roommate goal? Leave them with nothing negative to say about you. Try to figure out what annoys them and how you can be accommodating to that. You definitely can’t compromise on everything–they have no right to blare music in the middle of the night or while you’re studying–but you can be ready to to be the bigger person.
If they really need peace and quiet in the evenings, socialize in your friend’s room. If they just went through a break-up, hang out somewhere else with your SO for a couple weeks. If you’re a neat freak and they’re a slob, agree to a certain level of cleanliness–that’s easier than each person expecting the other to be completely in sync with their preferences. Be gracious and willing to compromise.
5. Aim for friendship, be happy with coexistence
I really wanted to be friends with my roommate from the beginning, and the first night together we cried about silly things together in the middle of the night. We joke together and cook together, and chances are, you’ll get along great with your roommates, too.
But you can also be happy with coexistence. Don’t feel pressured to be best friends with your roomie. You’ll find great friends in the city, at other rooms in your building, at your internship, or somewhere else entirely. But by following the tips above, you’ll be able to have to a happy room situation where you know you can count on each other when you need to.