How to Survive Roommate Drama Without Going Crazy
Rent prices have risen since 2012, creating an affordability crisis that has led many tenants to make sacrifices to pay their rent, including living longer with roommates or taking on a roommate for the first time. While sharing a living space has many benefits on paper, the reality is that common issues such as differences in sleep schedules, disordered living habits, and an unwillingness to compromise can contribute to conflict and disagreements. tensions between otherwise reasonable people.
Apartment guide surveyed 1,007 people who have lived with roommates other than a romantic partner to find out about their financial difficulties, their satisfaction with their living situation and the most common difficulties they encounter.
You might think that living with a friend would be a big factor in determining whether he or she would be a good roommate. But one in four people surveyed agreed that living with a friend put a damper on their friendship. Just because someone makes a good friend doesn’t mean you’ll be compatible living together. Nearly 47% of respondents were friends with their roommates before moving in together, but only 32% were happy with the current lifestyle. Roommates don’t have to be best friends, but it helps if they’re fair, honest, and considerate of each other.
One of the biggest stress points that can lead to roommate failure is keeping shared spaces clean. The topic of cleanliness was highest among people living with friends (47%), followed by strangers (43%), acquaintances (42%) and family (32%). Paying rent (9%), communicating (7%) and not respecting boundaries (7%) were the other most important problems between roommates.
Not sure how to handle someone who eats your food or brings their partner over too often? It could be much worse, as one 29-year-old respondent explained: “My dog ate several things that belonged to my roommate. I had to replace them all out of pocket. I felt bad about it. The dog ate his phone and a pair of shoes among other things.
No matter how awkward the situation gets between you and your roommate, the best way to deal with the problem is to talk about it in an approachable, non-threatening tone. The most common communication methods were face-to-face conversations (almost 72%) and texting (26%). Yet 14% of people admitted to not communicating their problems with their roommates, and only 17% of those people were satisfied with their living conditions.
Most people only hung out with their roommates a few times a week. About 49% of all people with roommates said they went out more than once a week, but less than daily with their roommates.
People who spent time with their roommates almost every day (nearly 53%) were much more likely to be satisfied with their living arrangements than those who spent less time together. If you and your roommate were strangers before moving in, committing to quality time together can have a big impact on how you enjoy living together. Compared to 52% of people who saw each other almost every day, only 6% of strangers living together who were not dating were satisfied with their living conditions.
Talking about money can lead to a tense or awkward conversation with a roommate, but it’s something that can’t be avoided. Being on the same page early on in your relationship about sharing living costs can avoid controversy and tension down the road.
Survey respondents who earned more than their roommates said they argued more about finances than those who earned less or the same amount of money as their roommates.
For some expenses, including utilities and rent, about three out of four roommates decided to split the costs equally. For other expenses, including cable or internet and streaming services, more than 1 in 10 roommates set up a barter system where one person covered one expense and the others paid for something else. For shared household items (48%) and groceries (70%), it was more common for roommates to pay for what they used rather than share the cost. In these cases, barter (33%) and individual payments (22.3%) were more likely to lead to disputes than fair cost sharing (21.6%).
Communication is the key to a successful roommate. Before or shortly after moving in together, roommates should sit down and establish some ground rules. The benefit of creating a positive relationship is worth it.