Hi Sarah! Do you have any advice on freshman in uni, first time moving out of a house with my own bedroom and lots of privacy, to an apartment that I'm going to share with 5 other girls, and a bedroom I'm sharing with 1 girl and her dog?? I'm at a complete loss at what to bring and what to expect
10 Things To Think About When Moving In To A New Apartment With New Roommates, A List I Just Made Up And Is Not At All Inspired By The Horror Story of My Personal Experiences.
1) holy cannoli that is a lot of bodies to share a space with. Be aware that that is…a lot of bodies to share a space with, and you might have to carve out a cubicle in he library, or a practice room in the Music Building, or somewhere else where you can go to be alone. This is not a moral failing, just know that option is open to you.
2) be really really up front with what you need. Notice I did not say “exactly how you want your life to look”—I mean the things you absolutely cannot give up. For instance, if you know that Roommate B’s habit of listening to music without headphones in the kitchen will make you go insane axe-murderer on her, that’s something you need to talk about with Roommate B.
This is especially important if you’re crammed into a 8x10 space with someone. Clarifying with your Bedroommate that you need quiet after 10pm—or you’re not helping walk the dog—or you sometimes need time to yourself & it’s not a reflection on her—is something to talk about now rather than later, when you’re more likely to have an argument than a discussion.
3) Chances are, you will have to compromise on what you need anyway. Communication just makes it more likely to reach a genuine compromise, where everybody isn’t tearing their hair out or suppressing anger.
4) Have a chore wheel, or at least agree on a system for taking care of the mess. It’s the dorkiest thing in the entire world, but a chore wheel where you guys are explicit about when everybody needs to do their stuff, is the easiest way to head 50% of fights at the pass. If possible, spell out what each task means: “clean the bathroom” = “wiping down the shower, windexing the mirror, cleaning the toilet bowl, and sweeping the floor”
Someone is still not going to do their job and you’re going to have a repeat of the cold war over a stack of dishes in the sink. But at least if you can point to the chore wheel it’ll be resolved much more easily.
5) Be very clear on what each roommate is paying for. Are you guys going to share groceries? Split only basics like toilet paper, spices, milk and eggs? Is the stuff in common areas (dishes, pots, tables, books, tvs) communal? Do you owe anyone for using it?
6) I recommend a monthly roommate meeting. We used to have ours at 10pm on Sunday, because everyone was generally in the apartment then. We used the Roommate Meetings to pay bills (rent and utilities) but also to talk about any issues we felt pertinent.
And I only had 2 roommates. With 5, you probably definitely need a time to circle up and get shit in order.
7) There is never going to be enough counter space, table space, general-flat-surface space for all your junk. Never. I live alone with a kitchen island and tabletop cart and there isn’t. It’s some sort of law of the universe.
8) Be reasonable. You can hate how loud Roommate C’s friends are all you like, but she is entitled to have them over Friday night for board games. If she cleared it with you beforehand, Roommate D’s boyfriend can come stay for the week even if you’re sick of seeing his face over your oatmeal. Flexibility and understanding from you means you’ll get the same in return.
9) But also, be prepared to enforce your boundaries. If Roommate D’s boyfriend decides not to leave after a week, and actually looks like he might be de facto moving in, you’re well within your rights to approach D and your other roommates and talk to them about how that isn’t what you signed up for.
10) WHAT TO BRING (on top of the typical stuff that I imagine you’re already bringing, like a bed, sheets, towels, clothes, etc.)
- Cleaning products.
- You will need them. Probably immediately after showing up when you realize the previous tenants didn’t do an A+ job.
- 1 pot, 1 skillet, 1 pan, a knife and a wooden spoon
- (I don’t know if you’re planning on cooking much, but you can cook pretty much everything in the entire universe of food if you have these five things.)
- Command strips.
- The best part of command strips is now not only can you hang that cool poster, but they come in hooks too. I hang practically everything from command hooks—all my cooking spoons, towels, necklaces, keys. The easiest way to organize stuff.
- A couple rubbermaid or general storage boxes, of a size that will fit under your bed or in the back of your closet.
- You are 100% going to have stuff that you need, but not right now: your stash of winter clothes, extra pads or tampons (if necessary), spare cleaning products, the iron, shoes you really only wear with this one outfit, etc. Stick all that stuff in a box to keep the mess from sprawling everywhere.
- Tape and scissors.
- Do not ask me why you (or your roommates) will end up needing tape and scissors, I don’t know. But you will.
- At least 1 of your favorite things.
- Look, it’s not always the first night, or even the second. But there’s going to be a night when you’re finished unpacking and the excitement of a new place has worn off, when you lay in bed and your heart finally realizes you aren’t home anymore. That you are in a strange place, and everything is going to be weird and different for a while until you settle into it. And you are going to feel an awful, niggling panic and misery rise up from the center of you like a cold tide.
- And then, you’re really going to want your favorite book, or Nutella, or that comic you’ve been promising yourself, or whatever it is that won’t…really make anything better, but might make you feel better about it