Whether you're in college or not, the idea of renting with your friends can be exciting. After all, it's nothing like living with your parents. With friends, you can have parties, play weekly card games, munch out on midnight snacks, go on morning runs together, and so much more.
Aside from sharing expenses, one of the most attractive benefits is that when you live with your friends, you always have someone to hang out with. Feeling lonely? Just knock on your buddy's door, and she'll have you laughing in no time. Having car trouble? Your roommate is just a call away.
While living with your friends certainly has its perks, it is common to experience some challenges once the honeymoon stage is over. This is hard to believe for many people. If you've known your new roommate your entire life, then it's easy to assume that nothing will ever go wrong; but living in close proximity can quickly change the dynamic of any relationship.
To help you avoid these potential pitfalls, follow these tips:
Are you messy or clean? Which category do your roommates fall into? The cleanliness of your house or apartment can strain any relationship. If your best friend is constantly taking out the trash, washing the dishes, and vacuuming while you do absolutely nothing, then the topic will be broached sooner than later.
If you fall into the "do nothing" category, and your friend hasn't complained about your lack of contribution, you may assume that they are happy with the roles you each play. While this could be true, it is more likely that it's difficult for your pal to discuss this with you.
Instead of waiting for tensions to rise, lay out a weekly or monthly cleaning schedule.
You may be wondering: "Ok, but what's the best way to do this?"
Start by assigning a room to each roommate (including you). If there's only 2 of you, then draw a line in the house, and alternate each month. For example, during month 1, you could be responsible for the kitchen and the living room while your roommate takes care of the bathroom and the hallways. If you're responsible for the kitchen, then your tasks might include: cleaning the dishes, taking out the trash, and clearing the fridge. If you have the bathroom, then you could clean the toilet, shower, and floor. Get the idea? Good. Stick with it!
If you're the type of person who likes to pay their bills on time, it may seem easier for you to just put all the bills into your name; but have you considered what would happen if your roommate(s) ever moves out? Sure, things may seem fine in the beginning, but money has a way of complicating things. If you ever have a falling out with your friends, can you be sure that they would still pay their half of the expenses?
Avoid awkward situations like this by splitting ownership of utilities down the middle. This does not mean that one person should pay the electric while the other pays the oil: it means that each roommate should be the primary account holder of at least 1 shared expense.
When it comes to food, many friends follow one rule: "what's mine is yours." This motto encourages generosity; however, it only works if there is a healthy amount of give and take. If one person is buying all the food, then that person may harbor resentment toward you or your other housemates.
To make things simple, everyone should agree to replace whatever they take. Polished off your friend's last box of cereal? Go buy 2 more boxes. Drank 3 out of 6 beers? Buy the next 6-pack. Think of it like you're borrowing from them; just repay them with interest.
Your roommates may not all work a standard 9-5, and some may not work Monday through Friday. Just because you have the weekends off does not mean that all of your roommates will. Make sure to define quiet hours early. If your friend has to work at 8am every Saturday, then be respectful on Friday nights. If your friends stick around late on Friday nights, move the party into your room so that your roommate can get some sleep.
You know and trust your friends, but no matter how close you are, you will never know everyone in their circle. If your roommate brings new acquaintances home, it's good to be prepared for the worst. Renter's insurance can cover your possessions, like your laptop, stereo, or jewelry; and it can cover liability if accidents occur that result in medical charges.
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