If you’re renting an apartment with a roommate, it goes without saying that you’ll have to sacrifice some of your personal privacy. You can’t share a living space with another person and not have some overlap during the course of your daily life. That doesn’t mean you have to share every moment with them, and you should set some boundaries early on when it comes to privacy issues. Here are some strategies you can use.
Place the Phone in a Public Room
Make sure the main phone and answering machine are located in the kitchen or living room. Buy a cordless phone, or a set of two or more, so you can carry on a conversation in another room if you need to. However, make sure that the answering machine is in one of the public rooms in the apartment. You don’t want your roommate to have to check their phone messages in your bedroom, or vice versa.
Coordinate Your Schedules
Take the time to sit down with your roommate and figure out your work or school schedules. This lets each other know when the other one is out, and when you’ll have the apartment to yourself. This can fluctuate, but it gives you a rough idea of when someone will be around. Set a daily schedule for when each of you needs to use the shower, and stick to it. Let them know if you’re a “private” bathroom person, and what your expectations are. For example, if you’re in the shower and don’t want them popping in to grab their deodorant, let them know. If they don’t follow your wishes, you can always lock the door.
There may be certain nights of the week when you need your roommate to make themselves scarce for a while. Be reasonable about this, and make sure they know about your schedule in advance. Likewise, make sure the offer works both ways. If you need your roommate to leave one night a week, make sure you do the same for them. It can be unfair and frustrating to them if you always expect them to go away for a few hours, and don’t afford them the same courtesy.
Aside from the bathroom, your bedroom is the other area where you’ll expect privacy. Make sure your roommate knows the boundaries here. You may end up with a roommate who thinks it’s okay to freely enter your room to borrow your things. Be sure to let your roommate know up front how you feel about those kinds of things. This means they’ll have to check with you before simply entering your room unannounced and grabbing something. An “open door” policy is also a good way to set bedroom privacy boundaries. Let them know that if your door is open, they’re free to come in if they need to talk with you. If the door is closed, ask them to knock before entering.
Having a roommate can be trying at times, especially if you’re a person who values their privacy. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t set some limits on your expectations. If you set these boundaries early, it can save you trouble and embarrassment down the road.