Twenty Something: The Roommate Code

by WL Author

Five unspoken rules of cohabitation.
By Ursula Lauriston

Roommate annoying the living crap out of you? Eating your food? Late with the rent again? Or simply won’t leave your shit alone? Have no fear, Twenty Something is here!

Today, it’s rare to meet a Twenty Something living without a roommate. With the high cost of city living and a tight economy, everyone is saving money by splitting costs. But normally, the merging of two different lives brings about issues that if not dealt with can drive a person mad.  Cleaning, cooking and paying bills on time are things not all young adults have yet to master. These five unspoken rules of cohabitation will restore much needed order or maintain an already perfect union.

1. Pay all bills on time

This issue is more prevalent than one would think. A roommate is late with rent, short with the rent, or doesn’t have it all together. This can happen to any of us. The responsible thing to do is let your roommate know as soon as possible.  Have a plan B. Be prepared to find a replacement for yourself if you become unable to keep up with your bills. If you’re the responsible tenant and your roommate is the culprit, write up a contract with terms and conditions for being late with bills.

2. Leave  shit that does not belong to you alone

One day you’re minding your own business and you just happen to notice your shit is missing/ eaten/ has been tampered with. First things first, don’t get mad. It would be awful to confront your roommate and accuse them of something they did not do. But if you’re sure your things have been taken or food has been eaten, think about creating a ‘money pot.’ Money goes in the pot to be used for household items both roommates need– like dish soap and toilet paper.  And when you notice your new box of cereal has been started without you, ask your roommate if he/she would like to share groceries. Suggest creating a shopping list and switching off on who does the grocery shopping each week.

3. Clean up after yourself

The bathroom, kitchen, and all other shared spaces are filthy. You’re probably never home so logically your roommate is to blame for the mess. Consider creating a calendar with a cleaning schedule on it– that way all parties are held accountable.  Or try getting your roommate to clean with you. Say something like “I’m going to tackle the bathroom. Do you think you could get the kitchen and living room?” Not too aggressive but straight to the point.

4. Announce your guests or make it known if they plan to stay

There’s nothing wrong with regularly having a boyfriend or girlfriend over or inviting friends back to the apartment. The key is making sure your friends respect that it’s not just your space. This means they’re not eating your roommate’s food without his or her permission or making all types of noise when he/she is trying to sleep. Parties are great. Just make sure everyone is having fun.

5. Announce your extended business/ personal trips

Trust that your two week absence is very valuable information to your roommate–as it would be to you. Make sure to clean common areas before your departure and lock your room door if you can.

Living with another person is difficult. Don’t make small issues worse by saying nothing at all or being passive aggressive about the situation. Leaving petty notes, G-chatting or emailing about the situation can sometimes do more harm than good and are actually super annoying to boot.

Ursula Lauriston is the author of Twenty Something, a social diary blog where she sounds off weekly on dating, D.C nightlife and events, career etiquette, and more. During the day, Ursula stays in step with the pulse of DC with her work as a Deputy Press Secretary on Capitol Hill. Follow me on Twitter.

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