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How to Compromise with Your Roommates

Having roommates is a great financial decision, but gives you an entirely different set of problems. You now have to live with someone, or multiple someone’s, and handle all the interpersonal conflict that comes with that. Learning how to deal with it, how to compromise with your roommates, is the biggest hurdle you’ll have to get over to make everything work.

What do you compromise on? How do you make sure you’re all on the same page? What can you do to keep problems from getting out of hand? Read on to find out.

Communicate clearly

The biggest problems come from a lack of communication. Not talking to your roommates about financial situations or issues that start small will lead to problems later. Talk to them and be clear when there are problems. If you’re not able to talk to them, then it might be time to reconsider being roommates at all. It should be your last resort, but if communication isn’t happening, it might not be a fixable problem.

Deal with awkwardness now to avoid problems later

It’s awkward to confront people - we’re not going to argue that. Not having that confrontation, however, is only going to create more problems down the line. The annoying little things will fester and get worse, so deal with it right now to prevent a problem in communication so bad you feel like you can’t stand your roommate anymore.

Put rules down in writing

You may think you don’t need to do this, but you really do. You don’t need to go quite as far as writing a roommate contract (though it can't hurt), but having something you can reference helps a lot. Write down what you can and can’t do, who is responsible for what and how you resolve conflicts. Add more if you like. Do you need permission to have friends over, or just if you’re having a large group like a party? You’re not going to remember everything that was said, so having something written down helps avoid any “he said, she said” conflicts down the line.

Respect differences between roommates

Even if you’re very similar, you and your roommates aren’t the same people. You have different things you like, dislike, tolerate and can’t stand. If someone needs a reasonable level of quiet to sleep at slightly odd hours, that needs to be respected. Start with the very basic things - if a compromise can’t be reached to make sure that people are able to get enough sleep, how many more problems are going to be created?

Make sure bills can be split properly

While it’s awkward to talk about money and how much people are making a year, everyone has to get over this. Being roommates is a financial arrangement, so being honest and open about how much money you’re making is pretty important to the process. Knowing how much everyone is making means you can correctly make the decisions of how to split up bills and be sure that you have enough money. If you make more than your roommate, you may have to make some concessions to them in how bills are split across everyone.

Split bills after discussion

At the same time, don’t just assume that your roommates are good for everything. Don’t just, say, go out and buy something without telling them and expect that they’ll cover half of it. Talk about any large purchases or make arrangements ahead of time. No one likes unexpected expenses, so don’t make that problem for anyone else.

Play to everyone’s strengths

What are you best at doing? What are your roommates best at doing? What do they like doing? The more you can split up chores and expenses to the best person for the job, the better everyone will be able to get along. Use that as a bargaining chip whenever you need to come to a compromise. This is especially relevant if one roommate can’t carry as much of the financial burden on their own: giving them more chores and everyday tasks, especially if they’re good at them, can help give them a greater purpose and help everyone else feel less like they’re carrying a freeloader or being taken advantage of.

Put everyone’s name on the lease

Only the lease signers are held responsible for the apartment. If someone doesn’t pay their part of the rent but their name isn’t on the lease, then there’s little that can be done about it. Having everyone’s name on the lease means that everyone is invested in doing their part.

Don’t assume malice

Of all the tips here, this may be the most important. When there’s a conflict, don’t assume that it was done because they hate you or wanted to cause you trouble. Start off by assuming that everyone was acting in good faith and trying to find a solution that works for everyone. Even if someone was acting in bad faith, giving them the benefit of the doubt can often keep the conflict from escalating further.

It's hard to compromise with your roommates can be hard, but it’s something you need to do. Following these steps won’t solve all of your problems, but it will make resolving the conflicts much easier.

Categories: Renters

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About the Author

Rebecca Green is a content editor and writer for RentPath. She enjoys interior design, dogs and can tell you where to find the best pizza in Brooklyn. You can see some of her other published work on Apartment Guide and rent.com