How to be a good roommate

Living with a roommate can help you save money and live in a nicer space than you could alone. It can even lead to friendship if you and your roommate have the right chemistry. Nurturing that relationship takes work, though. It isn’t that different from cultivating a relationship with a partner, coworker, or family member—open communication and respect are essential. Here are 10 more tips for how to be a good roommate.

roommates sitting on couch facing each other on pink, striped background

Table of contents

1. Choose carefully.2. Communication is key.3. Follow the rules.4. Be quick to forgive.5. Don’t be a stranger.6. Leave no trace in common areas.7. Be mindful of noise.8. Sharing may not be caring.9. Respect their privacy.10. When in doubt, reach out.

1. Choose carefully.

It’s a good idea to screen for the right roommate before moving in; you should be aligned on standards of cleanliness, work schedules, and expectations for your social life within the apartment. Interviewing potential roommates is a great way to make sure you feel comfortable living together. You can even discuss interpersonal topics, like whether you’re looking for a friend or just a person to share space with.

2. Communication is key.

Don’t expect your roommate to read your mind, or to be able to read theirs. Confrontation, even about something small like dirty dishes, can be scary. But if you and your roommate can communicate directly and honestly—even when it’s uncomfortable—you can avoid challenges like someone being passive aggressive.

three roommates preparing a meal in the kitchen

3. Follow the rules.

Open communication is easier when you agree on the rules first. Discussing very specifically how you want to handle sharing a space can ease confrontations down the line. Proactively create a roommate agreement and chore chart, and make sure you honor them. Then, if a rule isn’t working for you, talk about changing it.

4. Be quick to forgive.

You and your roommate will both mess up sometimes. You’ll be tired and forget to pick up after yourself, or you’ll accidentally be in each other’s space. It’s not a big deal; expect those missteps to occur and let the little things roll off.

5. Don’t be a stranger.

Even if you’re not best friends, making time to bond every once in a while, whether it’s a movie night or shared meal, will help you communicate better about your living space.

6. Leave no trace in common areas.

When you use the bathroom, kitchen, or living room, put everything back where it goes and wipe up stray hairs, crumbs, or other messes.

roommates in living room, lounging

7. Be mindful of noise.

Think twice before blasting music, talking loudly on the phone, or turning up the volume on the TV. If you created quiet hours, respect them.

8. Sharing may not be caring.

Decide with your roommate what the rules around sharing are. Can you help yourself to their food or closet? If they’re not comfortable with that, always ask before using their things.

9. Respect their privacy.

Try not to eavesdrop on your roommate’s phone calls, share their personal affairs with your friends, or track their comings and goings too closely. Holding space for both of you to relax, even in a small space, will help you and your roommate feel comfortable.

10. When in doubt, reach out.

Whether you’re unsure if it’s okay to bring the party home or can’t remember if that frozen pizza is yours or theirs, taking the time to send a quick text or make a phone call never hurts. In roommate relations, assume it’s better to ask permission than beg for forgiveness. 

Coliving with a roommate can do more than make your dream city affordable; it can be a great way to nurture a relationship and practice open communication and kindness. The bottom line? Treat your roommate the way you both agreed you would treat each other.

The best roommates are on Bungalow. Bungalow offers private rooms in shared homes in ten cities nationwide. Unlike other shared housing options, Bungalow vets all residents and helps you match with roommates who share your living preferences and interests. Find your next home on Bungalow.

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Move in ready homes and a built-in community so you can feel at home, together — wherever you are.