Roommate Etiquette: What Your Mother Didn’t Teach You

Mother whispering in daughter's ear

Having a roommate can be tricky- it’s a process of merging preferences and habits in a successful or at least non-confrontational way, often in a small space. It’s especially tough because there are few people who like everything the same way. However, there are ways to avoid conflict, and be a stellar roommate, without compromising on what makes you comfortable. Maybe mom taught you to be conscientious, but she may not have taught you that when it comes to roommates it’s sometimes more important to be honest and upfront than polite and courteous.


  1. Be Honest about How You Live: If you are a slob you MUST be upfront about it when choosing a roommate. If you find someone you can be a slob with that’s great, and you can avoid the awkwardness that could arise with neater friends. Same goes for being a neat freak (and other idiosyncrasies).


Messy Room

The Aftermath. Credit: By Deborah Austin on flickr creative commons


  1. You Don’t Have to be Best Friends: In fact, it’s sometimes better if you are not best friends with your roommate at all. You also might want to avoid living with someone with whom you share a friend group. Your apartment should be a safe haven from drama and a place to relax, so depending on what works for you, it could be better to live with someone who is pleasant but that you don’t spend a ton of time with outside of your shared space.

Related: Decorating Tips for Roommates 


  1. Create a Written List of Do’s and Don’ts: It might feel cheesy and awkward, but knowing each other’s pet peeves from the get go will help avoid getting on each other’s nerves. Agree on the limitations you want to set for your space. If you can agree on no loud parties or agree that you love entertaining, this can help you later. It’s better to establish boundaries up front than face awkward conversation after a boundary has been pushed.



Agreement. Credit: By xololounge on morguefile


  1. Realize That Quiet Is Good (As Is Talking Too): If your roommate isn’t a “Chatty Cathy” right after work, respect that. If you like at least 30 minutes of chill time after work without talking, make sure your roommate knows this. However, if you love to rehash your day right after work over some tea, then this is a great way to bond. Different things work for different roomies. Discuss it.

Search: Find Apartments for Rent In Annandale 


  1. Roommate Etiquette Is Not Set in Stone: Your mom really didn’t teach you this one, so I want to tell roommates everywhere to throw away the “rules.” Sure, you shouldn’t leave dishes in the sink for days, or throw a party without telling your roommate, but in truth, everyone works differently. Common courtesy aside, the best way to be a good roommate is to communicate, be honest, and learn what works for the two (or more of you).


Have any of your own roommate etiquette advice you’d like to share? Discuss in the comments below!

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Elaina Hundley

Elaina Hundley is an education professional with a passion for cozy, affordable home decor. She loves coffee, watching "Fixer Upper," and tries to read and write as much as she can in her free time.

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