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What living with roommates has taught me

Most of us have lived with other people at some point, whether it’s sharing a room with a sibling or having a roommate in a college dorm. More so these days, shared living extends beyond college. By sharing an apartment, you not only save on rent, but you can also combat possible feelings of loneliness in a new city.

I bought into these benefits and opted to share an apartment with some friends from college. After graduating, we all moved to New York City and chose to live together. Like everything else, there are pros and cons, but at the end of the day, I love living with roommates and have learned so much from doing so.

You need your own space.

My roommates and I share everything, from living space to work gossip and details about our relationships. Though I appreciate this closeness, I’ve come to realize that it is equally important to have your own space. Luckily, within our shared apartment, we each have our own private bedrooms.

Having space for yourself gives you privacy and keeps you in touch with your values, feelings, and goals. Perhaps extroverts think differently, but I believe that everyone needs time to be alone with their thoughts or at least the option to take it.

Living with friends is harder than you think.

People assume it’s easier and more fun to live with friends, but I’ve come to think that it’s actually a lot harder. When you become roommates with friends, you have to think about your history, the already existing codes of communication, and everything caught in between. You have to work toward maintaining that relationship, which can cause tension around discussing certain topics, such as how to split the rent.

Living with new people allows you to build a relationship from a foundation of respect. As strangers, you’ll approach getting to know the other and navigating living together with caution. Over time, this will turn into comfort, reliability, and a great roommateship.

Overcommunicating is always better than not at all.

When you’re sharing a space, you also have to share similar ideas about how the space should be used and what the boundaries are. Talk through everything, and set ground rules from the get-go: What should the noise level be before or after a certain time? Are guests allowed to stay the night? How are you dividing up the chores? This will prevent any basic housing-related conflicts from arising.

When other issues do come up, everyone should be comfortable enough to share their feelings. This way, you can talk through any disagreement and think of ways to respectfully and pragmatically resolve it.

Everyone needs to make an effort.

The best roommate relationships involve mutual respect that is continuously conveyed through everyday actions. This can be as simple as doing your part in getting chores done, washing the dishes right after use, paying your share of rent on time, and taking turns buying toilet paper. Acts like these demonstrate to your roommate that you respect them, their time, and their comfort.

This one’s especially important to me and my roommates. As new graduates, we’re constantly stressed about money and budgeting. We, therefore, try our best to split all costs equally. If one of us pays for utilities, the other pays for Wifi, and the other pays for household essentials. We then follow up on Venmo requests to match the difference and avoid any problems around money.

Self-awareness.

Most importantly, living with roommates has taught me to become more self-aware. I’ve started to notice how much space I take up in different situations, what habits I need to work on, and where my communication skills lack. Being in my 20s, I find this incredibly important as I grow into an individual and enter the real, professional world.

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Good roommates make good days even better. We love this photo by Common member @omgitsguszman of him and his roommates in one of our Chicago homes! Have a photo from your time as a Common member that you want shared here? Tag your pic with #mycommon for a chance to be featured.

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Avoid learning these lessons the hard way, and move into Common. At one all-inclusive rate, you get your own fully furnished, private bedroom within a shared suite, along with free laundry, weekly cleaning, household essentials, Wifi, and utilities included. You won’t need to worry about finding a roommate or searching for an apartment (with value) in a major city.

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