25 Rules To Follow When Living With Roommates

Posted by , Updated on January 23, 2024

At some point in our lives, it’s likely we will live with other adults in a roommate type situation. This is actually a really good thing, as roommates help you grow as a person and living with others reveals a lot about ourselves. However, things can also get frustrating at times as everyone comes in with different expectations. The very best advice is to not take things personally, and have frequent and open communication. After that, here are 25 Rules To Follow When Living With Roommates.



Talk about who takes showers when, and be considerate with the hot water.

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Everyone enjoys a long hot shower, but if you’re both shower-before-bed-people, someone’s going to be annoyed. Then again, if one of you leaves at work for 6 am, and the other at 2 pm and you both shower before work, it might not matter. Just talk about it before someone finds themselves without hot water.


The sounds of, ahem, adult intimacy, are only enjoyable for those directly involved.

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The people trying to sleep/study/read in the next room aren’t enjoying them so much. If you simply MUST sound like an adult film star, consider getting your own place (in the country).


Don't borrow things without asking. Ever.

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Refill the toilet paper roll when it's out.

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Don’t sit out another roll, or sit another roll on top of the holder. Take the cardboard tube out of the holder, place it in the nearest trash receptacle, and replace it with a brand new roll. If you’re old enough to sign a lease, you’re old enough to do this with unquestioning regularity. Also, if you’re down to two rolls of toilet paper or less, BUY MORE. Or at the very least tell your roommates you’re almost out.


Don't gossip or talk trash about your roommate.

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Even if they’re awful, talk to THEM about it and when necessary have a neutral third party mediate disagreements. Having the person you live with find out you’ve been talking trash about them behind their back …makes home awkward.


Do not expect your roommates to either join you, or vanish, when you have friends over.

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Privacy is for your bedroom with the door closed. But you should probably mention it and make sure it’s okay before you have a bunch of people over, and having a full fledged party your roommate isn’t invited to kind of makes you a terrible person.


Don't get your feelings hurt if your roommate doesn't want to be your BFF.

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Being roommates doesn’t automatically mean being friends. Being roommates with your friend doesn’t mean they’re always going to want to include you in everything. Some people are college roommates and lifelong besties. Some people are roommates and then never speak again. Neither are wrong.


Take turns taking out the trash.

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Some people might not mind doing it, but absolutely no one enjoys doing it. As chores go, it stinks. Literally. If you haven’t taken in out in awhile, hint: it’s your turn.


Everyone takes care of their own pets.

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Walking, feeding, litter box, vacuuming up birdseed, cleaning out cages. Your roommate shouldn’t have to deal with grossness from your pet. And no getting a new pet unless the roommates are cool with it. Discussions should be had before hand, out of respect.


Send a postcard (or bring home a small present!) when you go on vacation.

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Unless you and your roommate(s) are very cold towards one another, everyone likes to know they’re thought about when you’re away.


Observe quiet hours.

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Some of us don’t care if you make noise until 1 AM, but Jesus himself can’t save you if you try to hold a conversation with us or make loud unnecessary noise before coffee or 9 am, whichever comes second. For some, the inverse is true. You may not even know you have quiet hour preferences until you meet a roommate who doesn’t share them.


If you have a filtering water pitcher, such as a Britta, REFILL IT WHEN YOU POUR YOURSELF A GLASS.

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There’s zero excuse for leaving an empty water pitcher. Same applies to ice trays if you don’t have an ice maker.


Figure out what to do if someone forgets their keys and gets locked out.

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Will you have a spare hidden outside? If one of you is uncomfortable with that then it’s not possible. Do you have a Super who can let you in if it’s before 5? Encourage everyone to keep track of their own keys. This usually isn’t a problem, but better safe than sorry.


Consider drafting a roommate agreement that all parties sign the day you move in, that clearly states some the "rules" everyone one agrees on.

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It sets clear expectations and might save you from many headaches later.


Does cooking mean you do the dishes yourself, or if you cook and your roommate partakes does that mean they automatically must do the dishes?

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Discuss before there’s a stinking pile in the sink.


What are the consequences of not doing your chores, aside from living in a dirty house and putting more work onto your roommates?

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Is there a chore jar like a swear jar they have to pay into? Does that roommate have to pay more towards bills? There needs to be some sort of consequence. In an ideal world, adults would just do their chores, but that’s not the world we live in. However, money can often make up for someone’s lack of personal discipline.


Don't smoke in the house.

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It’s better that no one smokes or vapes in the house. It’s disgusting when the smell goes stale and is usually not allowed by landlords anyway. Vaping inside around someone who doesn’t smoke is just rude.


Feel free to splurge on a maid service if you're both in agreement on it, and include it with your monthly bills.

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Feel free to splurge on a maid service if you’re both in agreement on it, and include it with your monthly bills.


Agree to thermostat temps, put it in writing, and if you must, tape it to the wall beside the thermostat.

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We all know that person who prefers an 80-degree house at bedtime to save on air conditioning, and inversely, that person who can’t sleep if it’s above 68. Find a happy middle.


Your significant other spending the night now and then is one thing.

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Your significant other spending every weekend and practically living there (unless discussed beforehand) is NOT. They need to leave in the morning and not use up half the hot water. Signing a lease with one or two roommates and finding one brings an extra is really annoying and sometimes stressful. And never, under ANY circumstances, assume it’s okay to give out or have made an extra key for ANYONE – boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dog sitter – without first clearing it with all roommates. They have veto power over this, it’s their home too.


A dead plant is not a decorative plant and should be removed post haste.

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Nobody likes dead things lying around and dead plants are a major eye sore.


If you live in a dorm, you and your roommate both need to study.

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You also both need to have time to be in your dorm room and make non-study friendly amounts of noise.


When it comes to decorating a communal space such as the living room or kitchen, remember those spaces are SHARED and should reflect everyone living in the house, not just one person.

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Your personal bedroom is where you can reign supreme and make everything a vintage retro wonderland with a succulent garden if you so choose.


Discuss if there's communal food and what the rules are.

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Some roommates are cool with sharing butter/eggs/beer, as long as it’s replaced within 24 hours with like kind. Some are NOT, and this must be discussed beforehand, otherwise it gets real ugly real quick. Even if communal food is a thing, tell people when you use the last of something. We live in the age of texting, so a “Hey, I used the butter and eggs for breakfast, will be getting more on my way home from work tonight” gives your roommates a heads up that there’s no butter at home.


Set expectations!

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What’s one person’s clean is another person’s messy, so have an open and honest conversation at the outset and be willing to revisit the topic once in awhile.