The Ultimate Social Distancing Guide for Roommates


Over the past few weeks, the term “social distancing” has become a regular part of our vocabulary…and for good reason. However, many are still grappling with the term and trying to understand how to integrate this concept into their daily life and relationships while remaining physically and mentally healthy. Specifically for city-dwellers, social distancing has an added level of difficulty when multiple roommates and tight living quarters are thrown into the mix.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! You can thrive and work on enjoying your new daily rhythms during this temporary period of social distancing.

At Common, we have been managing and helping roommates live together in cities since our company started in 2015. We’re experts at helping people feel at home in the hectic environment of city life and smoothing over roommate conflicts. Keep reading for more tips on how to handle living in quarantine-like conditions with roommates!

1. Create a “social distancing” version of your roommate agreement

“Talking about a potential conflict early on prevents things from getting worse…Our strategies in the habitat were to be open about our feelings and avoid blame.”–Ansley Barnard, on how she survived five months of isolation with a few other NASA scientists.

While the daily virus updates are making clear health recommendations for the general public, your roommates might be processing the guidelines differently from you. Just like in any relationship, transparent communication about what you’re comfortable with during this time will be the best way to find a middle ground and avoid any unnecessary conflict. Take time to sit down with your roommates and discuss how to best adjust your cleaning and personal space boundaries.

2. Find something to bond over

You’re likely spending more time with your roommates than ever before! However, it’s also easy for this time to be consumed with a seemingly endless stream of binge-watching, social media scrolling, and microwave meals. Take the opportunity to intentionally spend time together with fun roommate games, trying out a new recipe, or perhaps hosting a virtual dinner party. This season won’t last forever, so take advantage of the extra time to try new activities!

3. Intentionally create space and time to be alone

No matter how much you enjoy your roommates’ company, everyone needs some time alone. If you feel cooped up and more agitated than normal during this time, remember that this is a drastic adjustment that takes time to adapt to. A personal space to decompress will help add a feeling of normalcy and calm to a very abnormal situation. In addition, creating your own schedule and then making time for your roommates within that schedule will help you mentally and physically separate from your roommates in a healthy way.

4. Fresh air to cure cabin fever

If you fall into the category of people that aren’t at high health risk to the COVID-19 outbreak, prioritizing moments alone outside of your apartment is crucial for maintaining the best mental health possible. Taking a long walk around your neighborhood or even just feeling the fresh air on your balcony, roof, or through an open window are excellent ways to reset your mind and take a break from your apartment.

5. Use simple moments to change things up

Whether it’s making everyone coffee one morning, or surprise ordering pastries from a local cafe, small gestures can go a long way in tough times and set the tone for your house! This is an excellent way to change up a seemingly mundane schedule and support a local business.

For more information on how Common has adapted to prioritize the safety of our staff and members, head over to our most recent blog posts on our mandated virtual tours, providing temporary housing for NYC public health professionals, and student incentives during this time.

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