A Guide to Dealing With Roomates

Published on the York University Blog on May 9, 2009
     One of life’s unfortunate necessities is having to live with roommates especially when you are living on OSAP money and bursaries during school. There is always the inevitable fight two or three months into your lease where your roommate yells out the complaints that have been burning inside of them the entire time. The fight usually gets ugly as it expands to include general character attacks which will force you to avoid your roommate for the next week or so. The massive blow ups may result in friend break-ups or quick moves to avoid scary confrontations. I have found that the fights always seem to be about cleaning schedules(or the lack thereof) or frequent visitors. 

     In my attempt to avoid these fights I have realized that it’s probably a good idea not to try to become best friends with my roommate. The best roommate I’ve ever had was referred to me by a friend and was so busy that I barely talked to him. I’m congenial with roommates, but I keep my distance. I’ve also realized that rooming with a friend will ultimately result in the loss of said friend. 

     I also try to set out cleaning schedules and things that really tick me off at the beginning of the roommate relationship. This isn’t always effective but it’s better than not setting out any expectations at all. A friend also created a compatibility questionnaire to give to her roommate to see if they would clash on any issues. I try to avoid anal retentive types that lack flexibility. I’m also wary of girls who are prone to making their boyfriends live in romances in the apartment.  I also have issues with people who give out the apartment key to friends who I find sitting in the apartment when I come home. I have had a range of interactions with unusual roommates that include:

  • An obsessive compulsive who used a comb to straighten carpet tassles
  • An insecure woman with an alcoholic boyfriend
  • An international student with a boyfriend who apparently was without a home
  • A crazy messy friend that had developed a collection of papers under her desk that my cat would get lost in.
  • An older woman that left her room only to go to church and to go to the grocery store. She later disappeared without telling anyone that she had moved back home to the Dominican Republic. We were actually relieved as we had entertained the thought that she had died alone in her room.

     Unfortunately in residence you can’t really choose your roommate but you can fill out a compatibility questionnaire that is used to match students. Living with someone in the same room is definitely more challenging than with someone in the same apartment. There are some useful tips at about.com for surviving the residence roommate experience. Thankfully I now live on my own but my roommate experiences did help me to learn how to compromise and adapt to other personalities.  Still I hope that I never have to share a bathroom with anyone ever again.  


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