4 common sense tips for not killing your roommate in a double-occupancy dorm

Guestpost by Kim A. on Aug 20th

I'm currently a university student having a go at living away from home. So far, I've lived at school for a year. As I write, it's summer, and at this time my job provides me with a single dorm room; however, during the school year I reside in a double-occupancy dorm.

There are a lot of posts on Offbeat Home about cohabiting in an apartment or house; however, I don't think I've seen anything covering living and sleeping in the same room as a roommate you didn't know until a week prior to moving in! It was a pretty crazy adjustment.

My roommate and I follow some rules to keep the peace. It's not very hard and we didn't even come up with these rules purposefully; they really are just the result of being courteous to one another. They include:

1. Let your roommate know in advance if anything out of the ordinary is going to be going down in your dorm. This includes having multiple friends, or a significant other, over for more than a casual visit; having the lights out to watch a movie; sleeping; having a guest stay overnight; or going away for more than a day. This way, they can plan accordingly. If they ask you to modify your plans in the room for them, do it if you possibly can. Then, they'll be more willing to help you out, too. It also helps if you take it up a notch by doing nice things without them asking. If they are trying to sleep, don't sit at your desk typing for hours — just go to the library. If you're going to a party that night and they are looking for something to do, invite them.

2. Make sure you're keeping your side of the room relatively neat. An unmade bed is not a big deal; a stack of dirty plates, on the other hand, is pretty gross. If it's affecting the other person's comfort in the room, it has to go. I mean, imagine if you were living at close quarters with someone and they kept tracking in mud on their side of the room. Sure, it's their side, but you're still pretty likely to accidentally step in it. On a similar note, make sure you are both doing chores equally.

3. Save space. The more space you have in your dorm, the more comfortable it is to live with someone.

  • Try to use vertical storage.
  • I also try to buy multi-purpose items to save room.
  • Share things that you can do without doubles of, such as a mutual microwave or an area rug.

Having less things also has the added bonus of being better for your wallet and the environment — the less you consume, the better.

4. Just tell each other if you have a problem. It's not cool to let a conflict fester without mentioning it. If my roommate has an issue with something I do, she just calmly and politely asks me not to do it — and then I stop doing it. If your roommate needs reminding a few times, don't be too impatient, as long as they are trying. And of course, if there's a conflict too large to solve on your own, there's usually an RA to help you in most dorms — it's quite helpful to have a mediator in certain situations.

Living in a dorm is great, there are always tons of people around to talk to, and it's convenient to live so close to all my classes, job, and other activities. I'm sure there are other Offbeat Homies living the dorm life — what are your strategies for getting along with roommates?

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About Kim A.

I am a full time student majoring in Healthcare Management, with a minor in Gender and Sexuality. I am an environmental and feminist activist, as well as an amateur fashion designer.