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Must-Read Guide For New Roommates

By: Mariah Rogers
Aug 11, 2020 • 10 min read

Guide For New Roommates

Whether you are a student stepping into dorm life, an upperclassmen moving into your first apartment, or a graduate who is leasing a home with others, you will be living with roommates. Cohabitation isn’t always easy! However, if you find the right roommate match, it can be a lot of fun. Living alone can be very lonely, especially if you are in your college years or just moving to a new city. Often times, your roommate will be your go-to dinner, library, and shopping buddy. While this is the ideal situation, sometimes, having a roommate just doesn’t work out. Here is how to navigate living with a new roommate, keep reading to find out!


They Don’t Have To Be Your Best Friend

There is a common misconception for many college students that your roommate must double as a built-in-bestie. However, this thinking can be detrimental to fostering a genuine and authentic relationship with your new roommate. Instead, you must think of them as a living partner. If you arent best friends, this doesn’t mean you can’t get along! In fact, not being best friends with your roommate can often times alleviate the pressure of always having to hang with them and avoid branding out in fear of hurting their feelings. Focus on being compatible roommates first, and good friends second.

Ask Critical Questions

It is not uncommon for students to find their roommates on Facebook groups, instead of going through the school’s roommate match program. Often times, schools find that roommates who went through the match program provided by the university have a higher success rate. This is because the match program asks students critical questions about their living style and preferences. While students who meet through social media often converse about surface-level topics. Some questions to ask your possible roommate include:

  • How many nights a week do you plan on partying?
  • How do you spend your afternoons once class is over?
  • Do you expect to go home on weekends often?
  • Do you prefer a clean and tidy living environment?
  • Do you sleep with the window open or closed?


Encourage Open Communication

Communication is vital in any relationship, especially with your living partner! If something that they are doing is bothering you, don’t hold it in. This will result in a downward spiral of them continuing to agitate you, and this will create a hostile environment. This is what you want to avoid! So, it is crucial to encourage open communication with your roommate. Normalize talking about difficult things such as cleanliness, noise level, and guest preferences. This will make it easier to bring up harder conversations later in the semester.

Set Expectations

It is vital to set expectations with your roommate and make them known! Before moving in, you should be sure to communicate what you are hoping for in a compatible roommate. Instead of just asking them critical questions and seeing if you think it is a match, explicitly state your wants and needs as well. This isn’t selfish; in fact, it will help your semester go more smoothly! This way, your potential roommate can also decide if you are a good fit for them. Remember, it goes both ways.

  • State how many guests you are okay with in the room at one time
  • Tell them if you are tidy or messy
  • Food allergies? Make them known!
  • Study habits
  • Morning routines
  • Nighttime preferences

Seek Help From Resident Assistants

If you begin the semester and quickly realize you are not a compatible match with your new roommate, try to fix the problem before jumping ship and asking for a room switch. Seek help from your resident assistant (RA) as they are trained on what to do! They spend the summer learning conflict resolution and communication skills that will help you address the problem with your roommate and actively look for a solution. There is no shame in asking for guidance. Sometimes, your resident assistant might be willing to facilitate a conversation between you and your roommate, which can be very beneficial and a lot less scary!

Expect Conflict

Even the best of roommates experience conflict from time to time. This is true for anyone who is living in close quarters and experiencing the stress of school and grappling with newfound independence. If you go into your new living situation with the expectation that everything will be perfect, it will be harder to navigate conflict later in the semester. Accept that you and your roommate are two different people with a variety of wants, needs, and preferences. Disagreement, at times, is competently typical and expected! What is essential is that you can be mature enough to facilitate a conversation with your roommate and fix issues that you both face.


Be Patient

Being patient with yourself as well as your new roommate is key to a successful living situation. This is especially true if it is your first time living away from home with someone other than your family! Learning the ropes of cohabitation can be tricky at first. You are also juggling a lot on your plate when you first arrive at college. A new city, college-level courses, entirely new people, and everything else that comes with independent living. It will take time to figure it all out. Be patient with yourself and remember to have some fun!


The key to having a successful roommate experience is to respect each other. This means respecting each others’ belongings, privacy, personal space, and feelings. Even if you don’t understand why your roommate is feeling a certain way, you must respect and validate their concerns. This way, respect will be reciprocated, and you can expect your roommate to fairly and equally.

Living with a new roommate can be a fun experience that can come with a lot of responsibility. Follow these tips to ensure a successful semester! Good luck!

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