If you lived in a dorm in college, you may have had to write up and sign a roommate agreement. While a roommate agreement may seem a little extreme to some people, even just the idea behind them can be really helpful.
Everyone is different and has unique expectations and ways of life. When you share a space with other people, it will become obvious how you and your roommates differ. Sometimes, these differences can cause issues and even fights between roommates. A roommate agreement will make each person’s expectations clear and prevent conflict.
Why Make One?
You may think you don’t need to make a roommate agreement. Maybe you’ve decided to live with one of your friends or feel like you can settle anything when it comes up down the road. You can live with roommates without an agreement, but it can help everyone have a good relationship.
It may not be obvious right away that you may need one. But after a few weeks, you may start seeing your differences and how they affect each other. You may need to get up earlier than your roommate to get to a job that’s farther away, or maybe your roommate keeps bringing guests over without letting you know first. Instead of getting annoyed or passive-aggressive, make a roommate agreement to work out these differences.
When you start talking about your behaviors and preferences, you’ll understand each other better and are more likely to avoid disagreements.
What Should You Include?
Your roommate agreement can be as simple or as thorough as you want. It can be a few rules you both agree on or go into much more detail. Whatever you need to discuss to make your relationship better, talk about it!
The agreement you and your roommate come up with will probably be very different than an agreement two other people would make. What you and your roommate find important may not be a big deal to other people.
These are the types of concerns you should consider covering in your roommate agreement:
- Preferences for the thermostat
- Having guests over
- How clean you want to keep the place
- Which items are shared and what’s off-limits
- What to do if someone breaks the agreement
It doesn’t matter if you’re living with someone you just met or a longtime friend. A roommate agreement, at the very least, gets important conversations started and helps make it clear what your expectations are for each other and your home.
Do They Work?
A roommate agreement isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent conflict between you and your roommate — it’s only useful if each person follows it. When you’re open and honest about your own behaviors and expectations for your home, your agreement can help you have a good roommate relationship.
Colleges and universities use roommate agreements for a reason. Even if you don’t write anything down, having a conversation when you first move in together can be a huge help down the road.
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