They say that nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes. When you get your first apartment, however, there’s actually one more certainty: living with a roommate.
Whether you live in an expensive city, are moving out of the dorms, or just aren’t quite ready to live on your own, living with a roommate is a great way to save money on rent and monthly utility costs. It can also make living in a popular part of town more attainable than it would be if you were living on your own, which could also mean an easier commute, access to better attractions, and better walkability.
Unfortunately, there are also some downsides to living with a roommate. Living with family is difficult enough (you know this because you shared a bathroom with your sister for over a decade), but living with someone you aren’t related to can be especially trying.
Here are the three worst things about living with a roommate — and some clever solutions for when you feel like you’re about to go insane.
When The Chores Aren’t Split Up Evenly
Chores are a struggle for anyone who cohabitates, but it can especially be difficult for roommates to divvy up the household responsibilities. When you live with people you don’t really know, you sometimes get stuck with someone who doesn’t understand that it’s important to empty the dishwasher, or someone who has never even thought of scrubbing a toilet before.
The resentment can feel very real when you’re quietly waiting for them to put their used bowl in the dishwasher or watching their dirty clothes pile up in the laundry room (an especially embarrassing site when you’re inviting guests over).
The solution: If the chores are unevenly distributed and you feel like you are taking on the brunt of the work, the best thing to do is to have an open and honest discussion with your roommate. Tell them that while you don’t mind cleaning up the apartment, it’s only fair to take on equal shares of the household responsibilities.
You also need to be a little self-aware here. Is your roommate really not doing anything, or are your standards for cleanliness simply much higher than theirs? If it’s the latter, you may need to ease up a little bit.
When Their Significant Other is Over All the Time
Nothing’s worse than a roommate getting a new boyfriend or girlfriend and proceeding to have them over every single day. It’s not that we begrudge them of falling in love, but we just didn’t sign on for another roommate — especially one that only eats your food and doesn’t pay any rent.
The solution: You might not love that your roommate’s significant other is always over, but the best thing to do here is to be supportive. If you haven’t taken the time to get to know them yet, consider striking up a conversation. It’s the least you can do to be cordial for your roommate.
If the significant other is really starting to drive you crazy, mention it to your roommate as calmly and nicely as you can. Just be prepared for the possibility that this is one battle you may never win. One thing you can ask without guilt is that their boyfriend or girlfriend stay out of your food in the fridge and pantry. It’s only fair.
You Don’t Have as Much Privacy
Let’s face it: one of people’s main complaints about having a roommate is the fact that they have much less privacy than they would if they lived alone. It’s pretty rare that you’ll get alone time unless you hole yourself up in your room or are out of the apartment all the time. After all, you also have to share all of your common areas like the bathroom, living room, and kitchen. Even the most social of butterflies like to have alone time every now and again, and having a roommate means you forfeit a lot of those rights.
The solution: Take advantage of the times that you are alone in your apartment. Although they may be fleeting, even just a few minutes’ time can rejuvenate you and prepare you for social interaction again. If you and your roommate have very similar schedules, the best thing you can do is to get some alone time in your room or by taking a long, hot bath. It’s pretty unlikely that they’ll follow you in there!
And while your alone time is valuable, you shouldn’t live in it so much that you start to alienate your roommate. They are your makeshift family, after all!