Roommate Rules: 3 Tips for Maintaining the Peace

Roommate Rules: 3 Tips for Maintaining the Peace
There’s a saying that you never really know a person until you live with them. This statement might hit close to home if you’ve ever tried bunking up with one of your good friends and discovered a few of their quirky habits. Some tendencies are ones we can live with. Others, not so much. But no matter how rough the ride may get with your roommate, you never want your relationship or the environment you live in to turn into a negative experience. And you especially don’t want to sabotage a friendship altogether if you’re living with someone you already know. Today I’m going to share a few tips for keeping the peace with your housemate (and maintaining it too). Without further ado, here is my advice…

1. Lay down the ground rules right away.
If you are rooming with a random, a great way to get started on the right foot is to sit down and have a long talk with each other the first day you move in together. According to Everyday Health, sharing stories about your backgrounds, your preferences, and your living habits can help each roommate to become aware of the other’s needs. You will gain insight into how they grew up, and you should take this meeting as an opportunity to voice what drives you crazy and doesn’t bother you at all. Once you have gotten to know each other, set some rules. Whether those rules are “don’t leave dishes in the sink” or “no guests allowed when studying,” make sure your roomie knows where you stand. If you are living with your bestie or someone you already know, it can be tricky to set up these rules since it seems like such a formal meeting. Instead, go out to lunch with each other, but make sure you both know that it’s a “ground rules lunch” so that you can put this system into action.

2. Make a chore chart.
After you find out what your roommates likes and dislikes, distribute the household duties and write them out on a chore chart. Your chore chart should be on a piece of paper and hung up where you both can see it (the fridge, the back door, or a bulletin board in a common living area are good places). Write out the duties you divided up for each other, and leave a spot for checking them off when the task is done. You might have daily duties, monthly duties, and weekly duties. Make different columns or rows to differentiate between the two. If you notice that your roomie is slacking on their duties, bring it up the next time you get together for your check-in (see below). And if you are the one getting careless, you might want to be prepared for your roommate to (nicely) tell you to get it together.

3. Schedule monthly check-ins.
When you have your first ground rules meeting the day you move in together, plan ahead for monthly check-ins where you sit down and talk about problems, concerns, or changes. This will provide you with a planned time to be open and honest with each other, and you can keep a running list throughout the month of things you want to bring up at the next meeting. Ideally, these check-ins should become more friendly (think happy hour!) and less informational. Your check-ins are your time to tell your roommate what chores they aren’t doing, bring up new issues or questions, and hopefully have fun getting to know each other better.

If you follow these three guidelines, you should be able to maintain the peace and work through any problem that may arise. However, you might find that some people are great friends, but not so great as roommates. There is nothing wrong with simply telling someone that the friendship would be better if you stopped living together, especially if you have very different living habits. Overall, it is best to find someone who is like you and respectful of your space.

Do you have any roommate horror stories? What about a roomie match-made-in-heaven?

Share the good, bad, and ugly below and I’ll be sure to read what you have to say!

XO Lauren

Photo: Carrie Beth
Sources: Everyday Health, Apartment Therapy
Categories: Grow, Lauren Conrad
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  • Deanne Castro

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Austen Tosone

    definitely great advice! i have to say i completely lucked out with my freshman year room mate. when she walked into the room i could just tell we were going to be friends and we hugged right away. she is the most laid- back, honest and loyal person i’ve ever met. we shared each others closets like it was our job and we found the perfect balance of how much time we hung out outside of the room so we could really enjoy each others company while we were living there. she’s the best, hands down!

  • suzanne

    It can be difficult sometimes sharing a room, so great tips :)
    Suzanne from

  • Jaime0912

    Great roommate tips! I had a dream situation with a roommate. She cleaned, she cooked and she even ran with my dog at night. I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. :)

  • Katelin Absher

    No roommate but does a husband count lol!! great tips though!

  • Janella Haf

    I have kind of a horror story. I was moving in with my best friend. And we both never believed what everybody kept telling us. We were best friends so what could happen? We also went to the same university and had all the classes together, so we left for uni in the morning together, came home together, cooked together, did basically everything together. I’m a person that needs her own space I wanted to watch Youtube on my own and my TV shows alone, which my roomie took as I was mad at her (which wasn’t true). Also I’m very tidy and clean and she’s a bit messy which is super OK too, it’s just hard for me, so I tried to loosen up a bit, but she didn’t try to get cleaner so I though why would I change myself and she doesn’t. Also I have many other friends who call me or wanted to come over or simply picked me up and stuff, she was really jealous which was soooo mean I though. Anyway I changed college, I moved to another city and eventually I found myself a way better place. I was so depressed and sad and mad… Many many other stuff happened and it turned out she’s just a mean person. We aren’t friends anymore and we’ll never be.


    That almost sounds too good to be true! It’s great to have a friend like that! :)


    Great story! Thank you for sharing!

  • Brea Steward

    I’ve had some good and really bad experiences with roommates at college. But this year seems like its going to be a good year. :) My suitemates are amazing and I’m really good friends with my roommates. We’re planning on building a fort with lanterns in our common room and going on monthly adventures together. I think that we realize how crazy we can be when we become busy and that we need to have a night out where we don’t have to be stressed. Its all about finding a happy medium. :)

  • Hannah Johnson

    I’m just about to move into an apartment with 3 other girls, so this came at the perfect time! Thankfully we’re all best friends. But I do want to avoid any issues that might arise living together 24/7!

  • Jacob and marie

    Great advice about the monthly checks! Bringing up concerns doesn’t have to be confrontational.

  • oceangirl25

    Thanks for the advice Lauren! I have had some very messy roommates in the past…you wouldn’t believe it lol! I had some randomly selected dorm mates one year, and I let them use my dishes. But they left them piled in the sink or their room. The only time the dishes were washed was when I washed them. Food was left everywhere, including the floor! I eventually had to remove my dishes from the kitchen cabinets, and kept any dinnerware that I used in a drawer in my bedroom, haha! Thankfully the girl I’m rooming with next year is more like me and says she likes to keep her living space clean! :D


    Good luck with your new, tidy roomie :)

  • nastaja johnson

    These tips are great! Should definitely help to keep the peace.

  • carena klerkx

    thankyou very usefull tips! XOXO

  • Kelly

    These are great tips, thank you!! I’m sure before I know it, I will be sharing my first little apartment with someone, and I will be sure to share this with whoever I move in with! xo Kelly

  • Jackelin

    these are good suggestions but what about moving in with your partner?

  • oceangirl25

    Thanks so much Lauren! :)

  • Melissa ott

    Me and my hubby just let a pair of newlyweds move into the basement since they can’t find anything in their price range in a good part of town, we get repaided by their consitantly complaining and to top it off they threw a used condom in clear view in my laundry room waste bin, I was complety embaressed when a friend of mine wanted to see the remodled basement and pointed that out to me

  • caroline ozer

    Love this! I move into a dorm on Saturday so this is super helpful. My blog is all about college life with DIYs, stories, and my long distance relationship.

  • Ashley at Sincerely Miss Ash

    These are some really great tips!!


  • Ashley

    These are all great ideas. My last year of undergrad was spent living with three other girls, two of whom I’m really close to, and we maintained the peace rather easily, but I don’t know if I could live with one of those good friends now- she’s so messy! :}

  • Beth

    These are such great tips. I move into my dorm next week with a random so I’ll definitely be using these tips!

  • Nicole matison

    Hi Lauren,
    Thanks for the tips approximately a year ago I allowed my best friend to be my new roomie as the price of places is so super expensive it’s insane, we were best friends for years before this and once we moved in together small things she did really upset me and it turned out a disaster and then her sister became a issue for us so she moved out and now we don’t have our friendship we had for 8 years so sad.

  • Jessica

    Laying down the ground rules down right away is so important! I recently wrote about ways to help manage the shared expenses part of living with roommates and that was one of my tips as well!

  • ash

    i had this roommate who was super disgusting. she used to leave food around and all that kind of stuff.. it was a nightmare and plus she never paid her rent and she stole my shoes. beat that

  • Renee

    i live with my boyfriend and 7 other people in a house and a lot of us hang out together and get along pretty well our ages range from 37 being the oldest to 18 being the youngest. we may be all really different people with our views and lifestyles but we all have a common respect and has became kinda of a random crazy family in away and i wouldn’t trade it for anything

  • Kelby Peachey

    Don’t always expect them to be your BFF and do everything together. Let the relationship develop naturally and don’t push it.


  • Cesie Alvarez

    I’m moving to New York tonight and will be living with 4 other girls. We all seem to be pretty easygoing but we’ll see how it is after a week together!!

  • kaleighforster

    I have had a few HORRIBLE roommate experiences.. lol. Needless to say I live alone now!

    One roommate worked nights and would come home after work exhausted, make a bunch of food, and leave the dishes there for DAYS and we refused to clean up after her.. so finally the third roommate hid all the dishes in her room!!! haha!

    One roommate was on anti-depressants & started drinking insane amounts of alcohol every night and kept coming home belligerent.. one day after work I came home and she was on the couch sobbing in the dark (this was on our first 70 degree, sunny day of the year) because her bf, who came over every day already, told her he wanted to spend time with family on Tuesdays. She thought this meant he didn’t love her anymore and was worried if they would last forever. They had been dating LESS THAN A YEAR. Oh my word. I should have left then but I didn’t.. haha until she came home and accused me of sleeping with him.. at TWO AM on a work night.

    She was the psycho of all psychos.

  • Marsha

    First 2 roommates were disasters, last 2 friends for life. Young and want to party: learn how to drink! As a nurse I was PAIDED to take care of drunks in ER. Roommates get put in their space with bowl of ice water, washcloth, plastic waste can and I’ll see you in the morning.

  • Trish

    Had a roommate who let her underage boyfriend (who just happened to ALWAYS have EXTREMELY bad B.O.) lounge around our apartment naked, check me out in towel while in my bathroom area, drink me beer and scratch and sniff his naked balls on our couch. I am a total routine person, so once I have established a routine, I stick to it. One day I came back from class (at the same time I ALWAYS do) and found them having sex on our stove. A few days later they were having sex on the couch and after that I found them in MY room. Needless to say, if someone cannot respect personal space enough to at least hear out my concerns, then they are not really worth staying in touch with. I praised the Lord when it was time to move into a new apartment!!!

  • Taanjaa

    I love these advice, I’m actually living in the same room with two other girls right now and I can’t get along with one of the girls because we haven’t discussed what bored us and there is an age difference!


  • Sheena Nixon

    Hey Lauren,

    Thanks for the tips. I am trying to move out of my parents house and I know I need to find a roommate because housing by yourself is quite pricey. I’m just so paranoid of getting a roommate that is like that psycho from the movie Single white female. Anyways, these are great tips as I said. I’ll definitely keep them in mind.


  • Lacy von

    I lived in a house with an old friend a few years ago and every time I tried to decorate the common area (living room, kitchen, etc.) she would take the decorations down and put them in my room. Did she think I left them there on accident????

  • AnselSf

    Both my good and bad experiences were in the same room. I shared a dorm in France with two girls: a Canadian and an Indonesian.
    The Canadian one turned out to be everything *but what you expect them to be. She would always close the windows during the hot months of French summer and although we talked every morning about the window situation and she agreed to let just two of the five open, she would always wait until we fell asleep, sneak, and close them. You can imagine our morning transpiration e-v-e-r-y day!
    She would also *only* want to pee when someone else said they’d go to the toilet.

    But my Indonesian angel was my twin from another mother!! I only survived because of her. :)

  • lelia

    Lauren,thanks for the tips!!!!!!!!!!
    i’m gonna live in France for 6 months and i’m sure that sharing a room(dorms)is better than living alone….but we will see…hope she is a good one!!!!!!!!!:)

  • Anne Montemayor

    Great tips! I currently live with an old friend and its going pretty well. I work 10-6 five days a week and she has class on the weekends so we don’t spend 24/7 together. She takes my dog for midday walks while I’m at work and I know she’s big on keeping the kitchen clean and dishes out of the sink so I always make sure to wash and put my dishes away when I’m done. We also share a diet coke addiction so we just alternate who buys them.

  • Gand Almonor

    I’ve experienced unhappy family life in the past and I’m divorced and I’ve had terrible roommates and all three of those things are just as bad as the other. People severely underestimate the necessity of picking a person that you’re friends with as a roommate! I could’ve saved myself immense trouble if I’d have waited to marry until I was older and if I would have had the sense to be pickier with my decision making with the guy I shared my old apartment with. It was terrible every day. He never did dishes or cleaned, which, when you’re young seems like a fickle detail, but it demonstrated that his core character wasn’t agreeable to live with. Things were so bad and unpleasant that I decided to move out and find a new place even if it was worse or more inconvenient just so that I could be happy again. I’ve learned my lesson since then and I’ve taught myself to tune into these things before I sign a contract. I think it’s saved me from a lot of heartache now that I filter for red flags. It really is one of the most unpleasant experiences to regret having to go home after work because you know that guy is back at your place.

  • Ariana

    Hey! These 3 tips are very insightful and share great ideas for making your college experience, with roommates a positive one. If you’re looking for more advice on living with a roommate, you can check out my blog where I discuss living with four girls- the adventures we come across, our meals and our fashion.



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