Whether you're moving in with your best friend or rooming with a total stranger, one thing is for certain: having roommates is always an adventure.
There are definitely lots of things I wish I'd known before having roommates for the first time. Namely, how much it would involve trying to figure out who ate the other half of my leftovers and counting down how many weeks someone's rogue coffee mug would sit in the sink unwashed (spoiler alert: it was, like, two months).
"My roommate dusted all the time, whereas dust didn't really bother me. He also left dirty dishes everywhere — which I found disgusting — but he didn't really mind at all."
"Compatibility with roommates takes many things into account, but the #1 is your level of what 'clean' actually means. I had a roommate that had a ridiculous level of what clean meant. She was constantly cleaning and it was the worst for everyone. I felt like I had a target on my back even if I felt like the place was clean, and she constantly felt like the place was dirty. It was not a good fit."
2. "It's better to have frequent, small conflicts and confrontations than to let things go and pile up in your mind. Just say something like, 'Hey, can you do your dishes?' instead of doing all the dishes yourself for weeks and then feeling genuinely mad about it after a while."
"CLEARLY define expectations from day ONE. I wrongly assumed we would all just clean up after ourselves and more or less split 'general' duties like mowing the lawn, whole house cleaning/vacuuming, sticking around to meet repair people/landlord, etc. I started doing all that 'general stuff' because they simply didn't care. It didn't take long for it to become a big point of contention and would come up during any sort of little disagreement ('At least I mow the god damn lawn!')"
3. "People’s 'normal' schedules are all over the fucking place."
"When I lived with two of my friends at university, mine and another friend's schedules were really similar, but the third roommate had an almost opposite schedule to us. We barely saw her sometimes and we lived in the same damn house!"
"My sophomore year of college, I dormed with two friends from high school and one random person. The random guy was always pretty chill and respectful, although he was rarely in our room. My two friends, however, were something else. We're still good friends to this day, but I will never EVER consider living with them again."
"For people moving in with friends for the first time: enjoying being around someone while doing something fun isn't the same thing as enjoying living with them. My example was a high school friend who could be a bit overbearing at times, but was otherwise OK. I quickly found out that I only thought they were OK because I could get away from them when needed a break in high school. The time that we roomed together was one of the worst times in my entire life, and I haven't spoken to them since. Cutting out toxic people is good, but finding out just how toxic they are in a situation where you're stuck being around them and have no place of respite is not the way to do it."
5. "Good roommates can become good friends, however. Some of my random roommates from college are my best friends now."
"The best kind of roommates are people who you are friendly with but not super close to. That way, you can go about your business but still respect each other and your space. It is possible to be close friends and also compatible roommates, but don't just assume before going into it."
"It's a good recipe for sleep deprivation and contempt."
"The party house was fun while it lasted. The lack of respect for when my housemate would bring a shitload of people over without asking got old real quick. The minors who started 'just showing up' at our parties made me move out ASAP."
7. "A lot more people than I realized have had their parents/maids/caretakers do almost everything for them."
"My husband was like this. Before I married him, his mom would come to visit from out of state every few months and deep clean his entire apartment. I'm talking about steaming the carpets, sorting through his clothes, tossing the damaged ones, buying new clothes and shoes, taking his dry cleaning in, tossing his old food, stocking his fridge with new food, etc. The first time I saw it, I thought it was sweet, but then I realized later it was weird and my husband would just wait for her visits and do none of it himself. When I moved in and we got married, she would fly down and still do it, so I had to set boundaries with her that we are adults and she doesn’t need to do all those things. It’s been six years now and we have two kids, but she still struggles with coming over and taking over my house and kids sometimes. I’ve been teaching my husband how to do things too, but man, as a mom I’m definitely making sure my kids learn to clean up after themselves and know how to cook, clean, and do basic life stuff."
8. "Eating your roommate's food and simply leaving money to replace it isn't fair. The other person still has to go to the store again to buy it. It doesn’t mean they’re cool with making the extra trips to go get the food they were relying on being at home."
9. If you're having problems with roommates stealing your food (and talking it out doesn't help), buy fresh ingredients instead of ready made foods.
"I learned how to cook very nice meals from scratch from having roommates. Whenever I had frozen dinners or something like that, they would steal them, eat them, and never replace them, leaving me with nothing. I started buying raw ingredients instead, and they wouldn't put out the effort to do anything with them."
10. "If at all possible, always make sure you have a plan in case things suddenly go south. You cannot always trust the other person to do what they are supposed to do (like pay their portion for bills)."
11. "Don't judge the book by its cover. A potential roommate may look like the most put-together person in the entire world, yet still shit like an elephant and not clean up after themselves with the toilet brush."
"The richest, most clean-looking people can be an absolute mess! My housemate (a first-year lawyer still paying off his student debt) was a really good lawyer with an expensive suit on the moment he stepped out of the door. You would trip if you ever entered his room/restroom, however. Lucky for me, he never used the kitchen."
12. "Never pick a new roommate based on sudden time pressure, like a previous choice backing out (if you can help it). We had someone change their mind about joining our house share, so we picked one of the other people we'd seen but who wasn't a first choice, because we were going to start being responsible for that room's rent in less than a month. BIG MISTAKE!"
"The guy we went with instead turned out to be a nightmare flatmate from hell. We had to conspire with the landlord to pretend that we were all getting evicted so that the nightmare guy would move out. He left owing us over £800 in unpaid rent and bills, and we were still just relieved to see the back of him. Covering the rent for the empty room for a few more weeks while we looked for someone better in the first place would have been WAY cheaper and less stressful."
13. "Don't room with a couple. You'll be outnumbered in every argument, and when they fight, the entire apartment turns into a war zone."
14. "If you want to control how all things in the house are done (ie, cleaning) you will discourage others from helping and end up responsible for everything that needs to be done."
15. Your roommate being quiet when they're home doesn't mean they hate you. Sometimes, they just need private time to recharge after being social all day.
"I hate being around people for extended periods of time and privacy is the most important thing in the world to me. I'm pretty sure I lost a friend because he thought I hated him after we moved in together. We were fine, but I would spend all of my time in my room avoiding him because I needed a break from socializing while I was at home."
16. "People that are lactose intolerant will risk their life for good mac and cheese."
17. And finally, "We are all horrible people in our own unique and insufferable ways. But at the end of the day, we are still just people trying to live in the same room/house/flat."
"Trust that if you've had roommates, they were not happy with something you did at one point, too. Hopefully, everyone can talk and work it out in a way where everyone feels comfortable to live in their own home."
Now it's your turn! Are there any important lessons you've learned from having roommates that you wish you'd known beforehand? If so, tell us about them in the comments below or via this anonymous form.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.