Learning to live with someone new can be challenging, but it can be rewarding too. Communication is key! It may be awkward at first to bring up some topics, but it can lead to a healthy relationship and decreased stress. 

Tips

Get To Know Each Other

  • Ask about hobbies, interests, major, where they are from, etc.
  • Ask if they plan to join any clubs, organizations, or groups.
  • Discuss class schedules and sleep schedules.
  • Find out when each other will wake up and go to bed. If you plan to use an alarm to wake up, let your roommate know ahead of time.
  • Find out if they are a morning person or late owl. 
  • Discuss preferences around bed time.  Ask about noise, lights (TV, laptops, phones, lamps, etc), and temperature of the room.
  • Ask if they plan to study in the room and if so around what time.
  • If you have similar schedules, talk about walking to class together.

Discuss Personal Space

  • Talk about whether you are neat and tidy or messy. Define shared space and how that will be kept versus personal space.
  • Discuss what will be shared (TV, refrigerator, laptop, food, etc). If you need to borrow or use something of the other’s, share how you would like for that situation to be handled (if present or absent from the room). Must they ask permission each time?

Sharing expenses

  • If there are costs to be equally shared, define up front what those are, when money is due and who is responsible for paying the bill(s).
  • If difficulties arise around not being able to come up with the money in time to pay a bill, talk about how to communicate this to the other person in a timely manner.

Guests and Socializing

  • If you know ahead of time you will have friends/guests coming over, when possible give a heads up to your roommate.
  • Be respectful of how late guests stay and if your roommate needs to study and have quiet time/space.
  • Discuss rules around overnight guests. First find out if your roommate is comfortable with this situation. Define how long guests can stay, how often this can happen, and where in the room will guest sleep.
  • Define rules around alcohol use, smoking, etc. Be mindful of University policies and procedures, particularly on University property.

Security

  • Each of you needs to be responsible for keeping safe in your room. 
  • Lock doors when you leave the room whether it is for the day, to go out at night, or even if it is to the bathroom.
  • Do not share your key with anyone else unless discussed prior with your roommate.
  • Avoid keeping valuables laid out.
  • If a situation doesn’t feel right, talk about it with your roommate first and/or inform your resident advisor (RA).

Roommate Conflict

  • Stay connected with your roommate by talking frequently. This open line of communication can help one another address issues promptly and allow for disagreements to be resolved quickly.
  • Share how you would like to be confronted if conflict or disagreements arise.
  • Address concerns immediately. The more quickly they are brought to the attention of the other person or parties involved, the faster they can be resolved.
  • Even if you find that you don’t have anything in common with your roommate or don’t hang out together, you should still feel comfortable communicating with each other.
  • Talk with your resident advisor (RA) if there is a concern/situation you feel warrants them being made aware of. Avoid talking with others on the same floor so tension and discomfort do not escalate.

Steps to Resolve Conflict

  • Write down what the problem is, from your point of view. This can help you stay clear, calm, and realistic about the situation and not let emotions interfere with how you communicate your concerns with your roommate(s).
  • Ask your roommate(s) if there is a time that you can meet with them to discuss a concern. Pick a location outside of the room/apartment that is common ground for both of you.
  • Be respectful, open, and honest as you communicate your concerns.
  • Allow them to respond and share their point of view.
  • Listen and remain calm as you hear things from their perspective. 
  • Each of you should share how you would like to see things resolved. Discuss what changes could be made to improve the situation and when those will take place.
  • Come to an acceptable agreement and set a date to revisit the situation to evaluate the status.

Resources

  • Talk with your resident advisor (RA).
  • Office of Conflict Resolution: 217-333-3680 - If you are unable to resolve the conflict on your own, this office offers support and resources that can help.
  • One on one professional assistance is available through these resources.
    • Counseling Center: 217-333-3704
    • McKinley Mental Health: 217-333-2705
    • McKinley Stress Management Educator: 217-333-2714