It takes two to shake hands, as the saying goes, and nowhere does this old adage hold truer than with roommates. There is something unique about two people going from being strangers to sharing a living space. For some, finding the perfect flatmate is a mission that is of far greater importance than finding life in outer space. While being friends is not rocket science, becoming friends with a flatmate can put even the most accommodating and even-tempered person in a bind. However, renting a flat or a house together can also be an exciting enterprise, and so here are some tips on how to become friends with your new roommate:
1. Respect Personal Space
While respecting each other’s personal space sounds easy, it involves recognising and understanding what the term means to the other person. Simple considerations, such as scheduling time for the use of shared facilities, and allowing your flatmate to settle in, can go a long way in establishing the beginnings of friendship. Respecting personal space is a key element of renting together.
2. Pay Your Rent… On Time!
Nothing sours a friendship between flatmates or co-tenants more than when one party does not keep up their end of the rental agreement. Paying rent fully and on time demonstrates a commitment to both your co-tenant and your landlord.
3. Keep the Flat Clean
If there is one thing that landlords and roommates agree on it is this: keeping a clean living space is best. Even if your roommate is not the tidiest person, keeping common areas clean can go a long way when renting together. While student life may not lend itself to spotless environs, tidying a living space is a great expression of friendship. Cleanliness is crucial for landlords too, and so keeping a clean apartment or house may even help you negotiate more favourable terms when your agreement comes up for renewal.
4. Cultural Sensitivity
In our interconnected world, there is a high chance that the person you will share a flat with is from a different country. Learning about new cultures is a great bonus to having a roommate, but it also demands a degree of sensitivity to their cultural background and habits. For example, cooking meat at a time when your vegan flatmate is away or speaking in a common language with a foreign flatmate can help you earn a friend for life.
5. Setting Rules
No matter the circumstances, life can get a little sticky without basic ground rules. These may be as basic as keeping the front door locked or working out cleaning schedules. Writing down a basic set of rules or duties when renting together, and keeping an active communication channel open about them, establishes accountability, without one person having to be the enforcer all the time. Division of labour may be stressful if one roommate is not used to tidying up but, in the long-term, it will do more than just keep the floors clean. Just remember to be flexible and understanding too.
6. Managing Visitors
Managing visitors is a delicate subject, and although keeping your flatmate informed of your need for privacy may seem awkward at first, this helps create boundaries. Similarly, giving a flatmate their privacy is a sure way to build a friendship based on trust and respect.
Nowadays, a student or white-collar worker spends approximately 22 hours a week on their mobile phone, computer or other devices. This develops a new dimension to sharing a flat because you may also share access to the internet connection or other appliances (such as a television) with your roommate. Sometimes, the strength of a friendship can be measured in Wi-Fi bandwidth, so keeping to your fair share of the internet or television time can keep things shipshape.
8. Looking Out for Each Other
Above all, being a true friend is the surest way to gain one. Looking out for each other’s safety, health and well-being, without being overly intrusive or overbearing, is a vital aspect in relationships. So, why not check in with your flatmate or help out if they are ill.
Bear these top tips in mind and you are sure to progress from roommates to friends.