Thursday 23 September 2021

Roommates, Friends, or Both? The Challenges and Rewards of Your Relationship With a Roommate

Ginger give advice about the pros and cons of living with roommates. 

- Ginger Abbot

Being a university student can be the best experience! You’re always meeting new people and having new experiences. There can be some downsides, though. When I lived with roommates, they were either my best friends or the people that made university life challenging.


Everyone should learn about the pros and cons of having a roommate before moving in with someone. Whether you live in a hall of residence or an off-campus flat, you can prepare yourself with these tried and true tips. Should your roommate be your friend? Let’s find out what kind of setup might work best for you and what the benefits are.

1. You’ll Pay Less in Rent

Living with a roommate automatically means you’ll pay less rent. I only had to pay for my room when I shared a flat, which meant budgeting for just a third of the rent bill. You’ll also pay a portion of other necessities like the water and electricity bills every month. It makes a huge difference when you don’t have much to spend as a student.

2. You’ll Have to Share Responsibilities

No one wants to feel like the parent and talk about splitting household chores, but it’s arguably one of the most critical parts of making friends or foes with your roommate. Sometimes I lived with people who left dishes in the sink for more than a week at a time. I resented that I was constantly cleaning up behind them.

Get ahead of this problem by contacting your new roommate before living together. Talk about a potential schedule and adjust it as needed once you get used to your classes. It always helped me to have a chore chart hanging on the refrigerator so we always knew what we needed to do around the flat.

3. You’ll Feel Safer at Home

If you feel nervous at night because you’re away from home for the first time, having a roommate will ease your mind. I always felt more comfortable when I knew someone was just across the flat. Nothing bad ever happened, but they were always a few steps away if I needed anything.

Everyone deserves to live with someone who feels like a safety net, so you might ask yourself — should your roommate be your friend or your partner? If you’ve been with your partner for only a short period, you should ensure you get the timing right for your big move. It might put too much pressure on your relationship to do that just yet, so talk it over extensively before making any final decisions. 

4. You May Need More Space

When I walked into my first flat as a first-year student, it was empty and full of possibilities. That all changed once I moved my belongings in and then made more room for my roommate’s stuff. Furniture and baubles will steal the space that seemed so big when the semester starts.

If you find that you need more space, don’t panic. Discuss the issue with your roommate to see if you can donate any extra belongings. If not, set up a time to view different rooms or rentals together and find a new place. Make sure to look at at least two or three options so you can compare rent costs with your budgets. Living with a roommate is much easier if you don’t feel cramped when you’re both at home.

5. You’ll Deal With More Mess

One of my previous roommates used to leave her shoes on all the time and track mud across our flat after getting back from class. Even though the rest of us left our shoes by the door, she didn’t mind the footprints tracking across the hardwood and carpeted floors. At first, it seemed like a minor problem that only took a minute to wipe away. Let me be the first to tell you that little things add up to tons of extra mess.

Living with someone creates more clutter than if you lived by yourself. That’s normal, but it makes chore arrangements and living expectations even more important to enforce. You won’t get on each other’s nerves if you’re on top of the little things you leave behind, like dirty cups, wet towels on the floor, or coffee rings on the counter.

6. You’ll Meet New People

Your roommate will invite their friends over, which means you get to meet new people. I made loads of friends that I would never have met without my roommates. Look forward to many dinners with future friends and learning about new life experiences when you decide to live with someone during your university years.

7. You’ll Need Social Schedules

Noise is the flip side of a roommate with a busy social schedule. They might accidentally invite people over while you’re studying and need a quiet environment. Of all the pros and cons of having a roommate, lacking quiet hours can be the biggest downside. Be frank with your roommate about when you’ll need to focus on your work and they’ll do the same.

8. You Might Not Get Along

If you have a big enough flat and opposite schedules, you might never get to know your roommate very well. Sometimes this type of arrangement works out if you’re not looking for a new buddy because you need to prioritize your schoolwork or career.

Should your roommate be your friend? I always had a better experience when I lived with a close friend, but that doesn’t always happen. Don’t be discouraged if your roommate ends up being a casual acquaintance. Sometimes friendships work out and sometimes they fall apart because of toxic traits that happen due to opposite personalities.

Roommates don’t always stay in your life forever. I had difficulty accepting this at first because I wanted to live with my best friend so badly, but give yourself time. You’ll meet plenty of people at university who could always share a flat with you next semester.

Enjoy Living With a Roommate

There are many challenges and rewards to living with someone else. Give yourself time to get to know them and iron out any initial problems that might arise while you’re still adjusting to moving in together. Expect a few ups and downs while navigating unique relationship hurdles with your new roommate — and the perspective will help you have the best experience whether you become best friends or not.

Find out more about what you can do to improve your wellbeing on Student Space.

Ginger Abbot is a student life and education writer who is currently enrolled in graduate school part-time. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief for the online learning magazine Classrooms.

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