Should you Live with a Friend?

in Roommates on by

At first glance, living with a friend can seem like a safe choice. You care about one another, enjoy each other’s company and share similar tastes. What could go wrong? Plenty. Many friendships don’t survive the transition to roommate-hood. The very factors that drew you together may push you apart when you share a roof. Marisa remembers what made her want to live with her friend Rebecca during their senior year in college. “Rebecca had the kind of energy that drew people to her; everyone wanted to be around her, including me. I figured that our senior year apartment would be a really fun place to be.” The apartment was fun–maybe a little too much fun. “We had crazy parties that Becca organized. She always had the energy to plan the party, but never to clean up. She didn’t seem to mind if the apartment was always a terrible mess. Or maybe she didn’t know it because I was always cleaning it.” By the end of their senior year, Marisa came to feel that she was being taken advantage of. “It really spoiled the friendship. I talk to her once in a while on IM, but it’s really not the same.”

Many people assume that living with a friend takes less work than living with a stranger. In reality, it may take more: more care, more consideration and more effort. After all, roommates come and go, but friends are supposed to be forever. Here are some tips about how to live with a friend and ensure that your friendship survives.

Outline expectations from the beginning. You may be able to read your friend’s mind when it comes to dating and mutual friends, but you may not be able to figure out when your dirty dishes are really starting to annoy her. Even if you’ve been friends forever, you still need to talk about the basics, like expectations about cleanliness, privacy and noise. Meg and her best friend from high school moved into the same Boston apartment when they graduated from college. “My friend/roommate started leaving dirty dishes out on the coffee table for days at a time,” she remembers. “It drove me crazy, but I never said anything. The only time we ever had confrontations in the past, it was about really personal things. I didn’t even know how to bring it up, so I just put up with it.” Discussing your pet peeves, quirky habits and morning routine upfront can help you avoid awkward moments later on. You may be surprised by all the little things you learn about your friend during that conversation.

Think long and hard about how much time you want to spend together. Better not to discuss this one with your roommate, but to figure it out for yourself beforehand. Roommates who meet on Craigslist often make their feelings about hanging out together known from the beginning. With friends, the dynamic is often worked out without a discussion, but it doesn’t always end up to the liking of both parties. “I was so excited when my college friend from Austin got a job in New York,” says Jill, a paralegal living in Brooklyn. “She had fallen out of touch with most of our college friends, but when she moved in with me, she reconnected with them.” As her apartment turned into the meeting place for movie nights and Thursday drinks, Jill began to notice that her one-on-one time with her old college friends had disappeared. “I guess as I got older, I started to like doing dinner or coffee with just one friend so that we could really catch up. Except that with Meredith as my roommate, my one-on-one time turned into dinner for three, and then drinks for eight. Meredith didn’t have many friends in New York, so she wanted recreate our social circle from college.” Wanting special one-on-one time with her friends, Jill wasn’t sure how to keep Meredith from tagging along. “It sounds awful, but this is what I did. I would just lie to her about where I was going. It got to be really stressful.” If you and your new roommate share mutual friends, think about your needs and how you’d like the new dynamic to play out. Do you need alone time with mutual friends, or will you be happy to be part of a large group? If you need your one-on-one time with mutual friends, arrange to meet them at places other than your apartment, so that your private time can be really private.

You still need to be careful about how you manage significant others. Roommates that work well together discuss their expectations regarding significant others. These talks are often easier to have when the significant others in question are hypothetical or are relative strangers. They become more complicated when your roommate’s girlfriend is someone you know well. When Tom moved in with his good friend Mark, he had already known Mark’s girlfriend Jessica for several years. “She was a great girl and I loved having her around. But she was always, always there. Four, five, six nights a week. It’s not like she did or said anything annoying. She was always nice, chipped in for groceries. But I hadn’t signed on to live with a couple.” Mark and Tom never had a conversation about Jessica’s ubiquitous presence; Tom thinks he knows why. “Mark is a real considerate guy. I think he just assumed that because Jessica and I were friends, I’d always want her around. I don’t think he could imagine that I’d need a break from having her there.” It’s best to play it safe. Always assume that less is more when it comes to visits from boyfriends, girlfriends and causal dates.

Consider using a roommate contract. A roommate contract is a written agreement between roommates, stating clear expectations and responsibilities for each roommate regarding a wide range of issues. Although these agreements are non-binding, they can be a real help in avoiding conflict. Of course, asking your friend to create a roommate contract can feel a little weird. Perhaps this is because of an assumption many friends make when they decide to live together: that the friendship is so strong that a roommate contract just isn’t necessary. Given the trouble that many friend-turned-roommate arrangements face, it should be clear that a strong friendship is not enough to create a great living situation. If using a roommate contract feels silly, you may want to think about using this approach. “I wanted to use a roommate contract of some sort, but it just seemed ridiculous to have one with my best friend,” explains Sarah. “So we decided to have a contract, but make signing it as ridiculous as we felt. We dressed up in formal clothes, had Earl Grey tea and signed our contract with a fountain pen. It made the whole experience really fun. The contract is on our fridge.”

Have you ever lived with a friend? How did it go? Most importantly, is the friendship still intact? Tell us all about it in our comments section!

23 Responses to “Should you Live with a Friend?”

  1. January 01, 2008 at 2:01 pm, Guest said:

    I also thought that living with my best friend would be great but I was sooo wrong! Her new friends are hard to deal with because none of them really like me since I’m not “real” enough and she doesn’t really know the meaning of clean. Plus, it’s really hard to get to know other people when you hang out with your new friends and she only talks about them negatively and expect you to agree. Nor does she understand “no.” It’s a bad idea!


  2. January 16, 2008 at 9:14 am, Guest said:

    I don’t recommend living with a friend. Before I moved in with my best friend people told me “you don’t really know someone until you live with them. They were so right.
    After she moved in I found out that she was a lazy, alcoholic slob. Our personalities were complete opposites and we ended up driving each other nuts. She thought I was too controlling and I thought that she needed to grow up and act like an adult.

    And because we lived together there was no escaping the other person when they were getting on your nerves. There’s no “down time” to collect your thoughts and calm down.

    it only took six months before our friendship was ruined and we went our separate ways


  3. January 18, 2008 at 12:36 pm, Guest said:

    It can be very difficult sharing an apartment with somebody else. My friend and I decided to move into an apartment to try and save some money and since we were good friends we thought it would make sense. Well, I was completely wrong. At first things were fine, but after a couple months I started noticing lots of strange people coming and going. I asked my friend who these people were and he just said that they are some new people he met at work. But, one day I came home from work early and walked into the apartment to discover a room full of naked dudes. They were having a wild, gay orgy! I mean full-on, hardcore ass drillin’ was going on here! There were dude jerkin’ other dudes, dudes suckin dudes off, and a whole bunch of other gay stuff! It was so outta control, I could barely sit at the kitchen table and eat my sandwich. But, I was hungry so I stayed and ate it. After all the ass-bangin had subsided, I had a talk with my roommate and told him that if he’s gonna have these gay festivities, to at least cover the furniture with plastic. Hot, man-load is hard to get outta fabric. Ever since then, things weren’t the same.


  4. January 19, 2008 at 9:00 pm, Guest said:

    I am currently living with my very very very best friend and we have not had a single problem. I do not advise most people to live with their best friend. The reason why it works for us is because we have known each other for many years; we have the exact same friends and we came to the exact same college because our interests are practically identical. We both know each other’s habits exactly, which is how we knew we would be able to live together. We both are clean, we both spend our time doing homework and just chilling in our own respective rooms. Neither of us drink, party, smoke, or do any sort of drugs. There were no secret habits that she had, and no secret habits that I had. Since we had spent almost all our time together for years before college, there was nothing about each other that we didn’t know. It was essentially as if I was living with my sister.

    So, I do not suggest you live with your best friend unless you know him/her like the back of your hand and there is nothing that you don’t know. If you know their habits and you know how they are in everyday life, you might just be able to make it work. =) My best friend and I have only had one fight in our entire seven years of friendship; we’ve yet to have even a small skirmish since moving in together. There is no one I’d rather live with. I can’t even fathom the idea of ever having a random roommate.


  5. January 26, 2008 at 9:24 pm, Guest said:

    DO NOT live with a friend. I thought I knew my friend very well when we moved in together but found out so many new annoying things about her when we shared the same roof. Our friendship would have been over by now,6 months later if it wasn’t for the fact that we discussed separating before the big explosion came. Now we still talk but its definetly not the same connection between us anymore.


  6. January 28, 2008 at 7:49 pm, Guest said:

    Im living with my best friend right now…I am so miserable…I want to leave but dont know how to tell her


  7. January 29, 2008 at 7:37 am, Guest said:

    I lived with two best friend and each time it turned out horribly wrong. Our friendships are over. At first I thought it was me because it happened twice, but then I realized it was just that the two “friends” had the same shitty habits. Neither of them know how to clean properly and both are spoiled self-centered brats that can’t stand not having their way. If I tried to talk maturely and work things out, both of them would be extremely hostile, defensive, and immature. The first situation I lived with the girl for 3 and a half years before it got really bad…However, now I’m in a new apartment with a new roommate and it has only taken 6 months for us to hate each other…just as some of these previous posts have stated. After making the same mistake twice, I have finally learned that a roommate is seriously NOT worth saving the money. I would rather be broke and alone (and happy!!) than saving a little bit of money and being annoyed and miserable each day. If you really can’t live alone, then you need to live with someone that is JUST a roommate…no friendship ties whatsoever. And make sure you discuss beforehand what is important to you both. With a friend, it seems like many living situation things can “go without saying” but the you discover the true nature of the person and it is NOT pretty. STAY AWAY FROM LIVING WITH FRIENDSSSS


  8. February 19, 2008 at 1:41 pm, Guest said:

    Don’t live with a friend if you still want to be friends. I moved in with one of my best friends in June and now we aren’t speaking to each other. I never realized how immature and petty she could be until I lived with her. It sucks to have lost a friend but I am glad to see her for the immature, finger pointing witch she really is. When our lease is up I doubt we will have much to do with each other ever again…… sad but also for the best.


  9. March 28, 2008 at 7:23 pm, Guest said:

    Just wait until that roommate decided that their boyfriend/girlfriend is more important than you. Trust me… there will be a fight. Especially when they start interfering with your normal routines.


  10. April 11, 2008 at 5:56 pm, Guest said:

    So I graduate high school, get in a fight with my parents, and then dramatically moved out. Shortly after I moved out my parents moved to another state.

    I look to my friends for a suitable roommate and I thought, “Hmm… Which one would be the best one to live with?”

    First off, I’m an introvert, a dedicated worker, and to a degree, a neat freak (once things are clean I keep them that way).

    Well, I choose a roommate who I don’t really know very well. I know for a fact that he works full-time and has been doing so for some time. So I assumed he would be the best since he could pay bills.


    This dude was the worst with his money. He borrowed from everyone, had awful credit card debt, had an airhead girlfriend, and worst of all, every time I left town for a day or so, WE ALWAYS GOT A NOISE COMPLAINT. So I decided to play on trick on him… I said I was going to SF for the weekend, I left then four hours later I came back… FULL ON PARTY and my roommate was no where in sight.

    I was shaking with rage. I broke my bedroom door, a hole in the hallway, our bathroom mirror, and then I broke the front door slamming it when I left… There were like fifteen people in my apartment, I didn’t know the majority of them. Not a soul would look me in the eye the whole while I was yelling.

    I was released from the lease the following day, I explained to the office staff what happened and they actually were very understanding and even though I lose $700 for the security deposit I still felt like I got lucky.

    My next roommate I met on craigslist… No problems at all during the six months I stayed there. I worked weekends, she worked night and went to class during the day, so pretty much I never saw her. Probably for the best anyway…


  11. April 22, 2008 at 7:31 pm, Guest said:

    me and my boyfriend just recently moved in with a pretty good friend of ours… he has a finance but their parents arent allowing them to move in together until they are married, which is a year from now. we all decided to split the rent 3 ways (in a 2 bedroom) apartment….since we took the bigger bedroom we talked about paying a little more rent so with everything included we estimated i would pay 295 my boyfriend 295 and our friend 220 as sooon as we moved in we got an extra key made because they only issued us two… well he made an extra key for his finance because they have a dog and dont want it to be our responsibility to take care of it…. well after the first WEEK she is there just as much as we are.. comes in between classes, naps, eats, showers, stays until 1AM and then leaves and repeats the next day….. before this issue got out of hand we talked to them about her splitting part of the utilities and he blew a lid… he doesnt think she should have to pay anything and says she will earn her keep cuz she does stuff around the house… me and my boyfriend are more than clean… so there is nothing for her to clean or help out with…. is it wrong to ask her to pay no more than 100 dollars a month to be there? i mean she basically lives there she just doesnt stay the night every night


  12. June 01, 2008 at 7:01 pm, Guest said:

    Stay away from living with friends!! Like many people I thought it would be a great Idea to live with my best friend from highshcool. We survived a two year seperation when I moved to montana and had a great senior year of Highschool. When I suggested we live and work together she was ecstatic! I thought it would be really fun too because I would be living with someone I knew already. BOY WAS I WRONG!! We moved into a small apartment and the first few days were great. This was her first job and my sixth job, so she was pretty excited to finally get a real paycheck. Funny thing was, Even though this is her first job, she still has the nerve to boss me around. And I’m sick of the looks she gives me when I do something! She talks to me like I’m stupid and is constantly wanting to hang out with me! I’m in online school, so I need a substantial amount of time on my own to get my school work done and she just doesn’t understand that! I cook dinner and I’ve bought dinner numerous times! She never thanks me! And on top of that she doesn’t clean her dishes so they just pile up in the sink! I don’t know how much longer I’m going to live with her. I may be moving out next week!


  13. October 27, 2008 at 4:03 pm, Guest said:

    Get your own place if you can afford it. I moved in with two of my friends (they were boyfriend/girlfriend at the time). They had been dating for 4 years. At the end of our lease they broke up. She moved away and I got a new apartment with the other roommate. After 3 months in the new place I want to move out. My friend (who I now just refer to as my roommate) started dating this girl (who I didn’t like in the first place) and she is always over at our place. When I get home from work, they’re sprawled out on the couch – I can’t relax for half an hour and watch TV after work. My roommate doesn’t cleanup after himself. I’m always throwing away trash from the kitchen and picking things up in the common areas.

    I see where this is headed and we probably won’t be speaking much after this lease is up. Luckily I’ll probably be buying a house or condo and won’t have to deal with living with other people anymore.

    If you want my advice, don’t live with a friend.


  14. January 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm, Guest said:

    hahaha….amen to that!!


  15. March 08, 2009 at 6:52 pm, Guest said:

    Roommates will force you to adjust in some way, whether they’re friends or not. So you need to be ok with change and tolerate the stupid stuff. Life is too short to fight about who cleans what, who buys what and how many days a significant other can stay. The more laid back the people are, the easier it is. I’ve lived with 12 different roommates in my life so far. Some strangers, some friends. The first couple I messed up because I thought we were all supposed to be best friends. Later on, I realized roommates are just a way to lower the rent and that pretty much solved everything. After that the only ones that created issues were drama queens or control freaks.

    Take it easy and you’ll be fine. If you’re not fine talk about it and/or get out asap. A friendship can be salvaged with proper communication.


  16. April 09, 2009 at 3:30 am, Ashley said:

    I’m not in the best environment where I am living right now. My best guy friend, who I love and who loves me, wants me to get an apartment with him and go to school together. We just talked about dating recently. What should I do? please help!


  17. May 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm, kris said:

    I always regretted not living with my best friend during my Senior Year of college. Then I moved to the other side of the country. Thanks to all the horror stories, I no longer regret it. I will also, bust my ASS trying to find other ways to make money and lower rent. Dealing with another person day in and day out where you two are not dating or married just PLAIN SUCKS. I had a male friend (not best friend), but we are no longer FRIENDS! He was so needy and I was so focused on making my new career work and hanging out with my new friends, that he was constantly insisting on doing things for me and with me. He wanted me to watch his shitty movies that were pirated (those movies are like the worst of the worst), and they are not worth wasting hours on (though he loves them, more becuz of the fact that he got something for FREE *eye roll*), and he would insist I eat this or that foods because they’re healthier. And he’d watch me eat. I eat healthy….but NOOOO his is healthier. Then, the last straw, he doesn’t pay his rent on time, then expects me to just accept it and let him pay whenever. *BIGGEST EYE ROLL EVER*!!!! After that, I stuck my foot to his ass and next thing I knew, he was out the door and OUTTA MY LIFE!!!!!!!! THANK GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD I never knew he was so needy, so into telling me the best things to do and expecting me to do them, and so into getting free stuff or favors.


  18. May 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm, Anonymous said:

    i think if you really value your friendship dont move in together, my cousin and his best friend moved in together and they dnt speak anymore, the friend’s girlfriend was always there and my cousin thought she was using his friend (she was) but they dont see each other anymore even though my cousin was right. but i don’t know about living with strangers, i lived with a girl i knew from school, (we were friendly but not friends) and 3 other people who we didn’t know, we dont live together any more because it was a university student flat thing, but me and her are soo close now, but i dnt really see the other people we lived with even though we all live near to each other and got on reletavely well in the flat! i’m now considering moving in with a friend frm work, but i’m not too sure about it! time can only tell i suppose!


  19. June 24, 2009 at 2:01 am, Anonymous said:

    Heh me and my friend live in an apartment together and we have no problems, i’ve known this guy since 6th grade and we get along great. Our life is kind of like the 2 guys from Saving Silverman, but it works for us :P.


  20. January 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm, worried said:

    I’m worried that it might be me who is the bad roommate. I’ve lived with lots of different people in the past and it always seems to end kinda rocky. I must admit that I’m kind of possesive over my own things (food, clothes, space) but I always try to be as accomidating to my roommates as I can. I keep public areas clean and I work 8am – 5pm everyday, but nevertheless I still seem to always be dealing with roommate issues.

    My current roommate is a girl who I’ve know since I was 10 yrs old. We went to overnight summer camp together for like 8 years, built a bond that I thought nothing could break, but here we are, early in our new apartment and things are already getting weird. I kind of pride myself on being an intellectual, book and street smart, and she’s kind of a 7th year college sophomore, chill, fun type. Don’t get me wrong, i love to party and hang out with people, but not all the time. I take life seriously, whereas she just shrugs important stuff off.

    I’m worried that maybe it is me that’s the problem and I that take things too seriously to where I should just be living by myself. But for the next 6 months we are stuck together in a little apt. What should I do? Should I talk to her and air out all my weird obsessions? or should i just blame it on myself and keep my mouth shut when it comes to my frustrations?

    I don’t want this friendship to end up like all those I”ve read about on this forum… is there anything i can do to stop that from happening?


  21. April 07, 2012 at 11:26 am, tragic said:

    Ok… i have been frends with ds grl a Yr. I thought movin togethrr wud b a great idea bcuz She was alreadi spendin nites wit me at my old apt.. I WAS SO FKN WRONG.. this is whr it went WRONG. She startd invitin her frends over which was a huge problem bcuz i had. jus broken up wit her frend n was now prego by hm. So i didn Want to c hm. Imagine my surprise wen i woke up to hm. Its hard bein aroun sumbdi u n luv wit who broke up wit u Cuz u got prego. However, She acted lik i was the problem n that i should Jus avoid him. Wow! Right? I now Jus avoid her basically. I dont tlk to her at all. I stay in my room mad waitin on the lease to be up. I lock myself n my. room and only come out when i lev


  22. May 20, 2012 at 7:26 am, sally said:

    I lived with my Best friend, and we now hate each other. You really see people for who they are when you live with them!! all i can say is just live with people you really dont care about.


  23. December 10, 2012 at 12:35 am, toni said:

    I learned the hard way….I will NEVER live with another “friend.” I would stay in a shelter or sleep in my car first…seriously. living with a friend totally ended the friendship. She was jealous that her dude was always making little sexual comments about me (supposedly joking)….and the thing about it is, we had already laid down the rules, and had “that talk”before moving in….it got to the point where she started insulting me about petty stuff, and I confronted her about it in the “roomate meeting.” That’s when the truth came out what the real problem was. I move out 2 days later. Never again…..


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