Roommates: 8 mistakes people make—and how to avoid them

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(Here’s looking at you, OSU students)
Or should I say THE Ohio State University.

Sharing a living space is one of the most intimate things you can do with someone. Over the course of a year, you may see your roommate 1,872 hours or more. That’s a lot of time for misunderstandings, hurt feelings and knock-down-drag-out fights. Avoid these common mistakes in choosing a roommate and save yourself a world of trouble.

1. Moving in with someone you barely know.
Sure, there’s something to be said for chemistry and spontaneity. Sometimes when you meet someone you just know. This is not one of those times. Let me repeat—THIS.IS.NOT.ONE.OF.THOSE.TIMES. Most people spend more time with their roommate than their closest friends and family. Don’t leave this to chance. If you’ve known them less than a year—and I mean really known them and their quirks—pass.

2. Not discussing dish duty.
No one really likes cleaning. (Well, unless you’re Monica Geller). Before you decide to share a home with someone, make sure you’re on the same page about cleanliness. Who will wash dishes, take out the trash, vacuum, sweep, clean toilets and wash windows? Maybe you each have your set list of chores each week or maybe you rotate duties. Anything can work, but make sure you agree to those terms before move-in day.

The Grand floorplan at the popular Lennox Flats apartments in Columbus, Ohio.

3. Picking the wrong apartment.
Sure, you’ll share the kitchen and living area, but you also need your own space if you want this relationship to survive. No matter how much you like each other, you will get on each other’s nerves. Choose an apartment that offers you each your own bedroom and bathroom. Some communities even offer a “roommate floor plan” designed especially for, well, roommates. Typically these feature a split bedroom design—so you’re at one end of the apartment and they’re at the other. (If you’ve ever shared a wall with someone, you know how disturbing those strange sounds coming from the other side can be).

4. Shacking up with your design opposite.
If you have visions of a clean and modern-styled apartment, you better make sure your soon-to-be-roommate shares that vibe. Nothing worse than finding out your fly friend is really a closet granny when it comes to decorating. (But damn, those macramé pot holders are cool again.)

5. Money, money, money.
Money can be an awkward subject to broach, but broach it you must before you sign a lease with someone. Do they have a steady job? Do they have some savings to fall back on if they lose said job? Do they pay their other bills on time? Never sign a lease solo if you’re counting on a roommate to pay half the rent. Put the lease in both of your names—that way, they will suffer financial repercussions if they skip out on you. You can also use an online payment system such as Square, Venmo or PayPal to make sure monthly payments are on time, or set up calendar reminders in advance to remind you when rent’s due.

6. Smoking, drinking and drugs.
Vices can be divisive, so decide now what you will and won’t tolerate. Maybe smoking is okay, but only on the patio. If you’re not okay with coke lines in the bathroom, make that clear before you sign a lease. Once the cops are at your door, it’s too late.

7. Guests that never leave.
Your roommate will have other friends—maybe even a special someone. Make sure you’re on the same page about visitors. If you don’t want to run into an endless stream of bad decisions on Sunday morning, make sure your wannabe roomie knows to take her hook-ups elsewhere.

8. Toilet paper wars.
Sometimes it’s the small things that grate on you—like when it seems like you’re the only one who ever replenishes the toilet paper stash. Or when your fridge-nibbler roomie eats the last yogurt. YOUR yogurt. As in, you shopped for it, paid for it, brought it home and put it in the dairy drawer before that savage plucked it out and ate it. Avoid these situations by clarifying up front who is responsible for shared toiletries like soap and TP and how you want to handle common food items like eggs and milk. Instead of relying on memory, keep a calendar in the kitchen and make note of who bought the last round of staples.

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