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The basics
THE USA: Student Accommodation

Common roommate problems: How to keep the peace

Worried about living in a dorm with another person while studying abroad? Here are a few tips to keeping the peace and avoiding the most common roommate problems...

American dormitory


**Please note that the content below is not the most up-to-date information we have on resolving conflict and disagreements with roommates** 



Anyone who has ever suffered through a semester with an incompatible roommate knows how deeply it can impact everything about the college experience. The issues that college roommates run into can range from mild disagreements to situations that can truly be described as toxic.


But first, make sure you feel safe

Before continuing, let's get one thing out of the way. If anybody is in a situation in which they are fearful of their safety or the safety of their roommate, they need to contact their resident adviser, campus security, or law enforcement. The same is true if one of the parties is involved in illegal activities.


4 Tips to keeping the peace

Now, back to the topic at hand. Living with somebody else as an adult is difficult. When the complexities of dorm or apartment living are considered, situations can become toxic very quickly. Lack of space, home sickness, and stress combined with roommate disputes can result in what may seem to be an unresolvable circumstance. Fortunately, most roommate disputes can be resolved if both parties can compromise and behave reasonably. Let's consider a few common roommate troubles.


1. Personal space

It starts out slowly. One roommate stashes her hairdryer on the other roommate's side of the bathroom. It's no big deal. It's just one little thing after all. Next, she's taking up ¾ of the fridge with her protein shakes, and way more than her share of the closet space. If this isn't handled correctly, the roommates might find themselves having an unproductive blow-up with each other. Here are a few tips for the roommate who is getting crowded out:

  • Approach the roommate in a non-accusatory tone and ask them if they need help organizing their space. They might be overwhelmed and simply laying things down wherever they can find a flat surface.
  • Offer a compromise. Maybe it's not a big deal that they take up most of the counter space in the bathroom, as long as they gives up a little bit of the extra closet space that they're utilizing.
  • Set a firm deadline. As a last result, it may be necessary to kindly, but firmly state that the offending roommate needs to stop encroaching now.


2. Messiness

Not surprisingly, space creep and messiness often go hand in hand. When two people have different ideas about acceptable levels of cleanliness, it can result in a lot of conflict. The best time to deal with this conflict is before it occurs. Roommates should get together and compromise on a cleaning schedule and a few ground rules. This way, if conflicts come up, both roommates can rely on the original agreement.


3. Overnight visitors

During the course of a semester, each roommate may find it necessary to have an overnight guest. The best thing to do in these situations is to be as considerate as possible. Roommates should be given advance notice. The guest should come prepared to sleep on the floor or couch. The hosting roommate should also warn their guest of the other roommate's schedule. Ideally, the roommate who is not hosting the guest should have his or her schedule disrupted as little as possible. If one roommate begins abusing the privilege, it is time to have a heart-to-heart conversation and set a limit on guests.


4. Respect eachother's schedules

Whether in a college or work environment, roommates will have varying schedules. Late nights for one while the other is attempting to sleep can create hard feelings and resentments, if one feels that s/he is not being accommodated. Noise is the most frequent issue, and there must be agreements on the parameters in advance. The same goes for entertaining friends. Having basic consideration for each other, so that no one is inconvenienced or disrupted is just common courtesy.


Having a roommate involves flexibility and lots of give-and-take. Those who cannot bend a bit and who cannot calmly address their issues probably need to live alone.



Author’s bio: Julie Ellis, as a regular blogger for Premier Essay, has never found a topic to be uninteresting. “What I don’t know, I find out, and my creative “juices” take care of the rest!” she states.

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