Top Roommate Memes (and How to Avoid Living with These People)
Published on October 16th, 2012
By Jennifer Oppriecht
If you’re looking to save money on rent, sharing a lease with a roommate is a great idea. It’s a horrible idea, however, if you pick the roommate from hell, as represented in this post’s Roommate Memes. So how do you avoid these morons, er, people?
To choose wisely, follow our highly effective strategy, which is based on a simple premise: Ask the right questions at the right time.
Before we explain the strategy, you need to understand the reason why roommates wind up in disputes.
- It’s not because you don’t have the same hobbies or lifestyles.
- It’s not because you don’t have the same friends.
- It’s not because you don’t share the same decorating tastes or have the same neatness standards.
The main reason behind roommate problems is that you and your roommates can’t resolve a conflict effectively.
In any relationship – couples, friends, parents – there will be conflict.
But think about the successful relationships in your life: The reason why people stay together is that they make it through the tough times. They’ve learned how to resolve their conflicts with each other and move on.
We’ve created a great guide to help you resolve conflict with your roommate, but that’s not the point of this post. Our goal today is to help you to avoid typical roommate problems before they happen.
Take Action Before You Sign the Lease
Our sure-fire strategy is amazingly simple: If resolving conflict is the key to a successful roommate relationship, then you need to address potential areas of conflict before you sign the lease.
That’s right. Before you’re legally bound, you can tackle some issues that we’ve seen destroy roommate relationships. In the process, you’ll not only prevent a destructive relationship, you’ll also put a few legal safeguards in place that can only benefit everyone down the road.
Once again, you must take these action steps before you sign the lease:
1. Talk financials first. The biggest cause of break-ups in marriages is money issues. It’s right up there for troubled roommate relationships too.
So here’s what you do. Sit down and establish who is paying for what before you sign the lease. Go through each issue and establish some clear parameters:
For example, if the utility bill isn’t included in your monthly rent, establish that everyone needs to kick in an equal percentage. For a security deposit, figure out
how you’re going to pay it, and how you’ll receive the refund. For rent amounts on a joint lease: Try and figure out exactly who will be paying what percentage for your monthly rent.
It’s a smart move to write out an agreement as to the different amounts, and have everyone sign the document. This will be the only legally admissible document you’d have in case someone bails out of the apartment and sticks you with the full rent. Note that a landlord won’t go after a person who leaves – since your name is on the lease, you’re responsible.
Red flag: If a potential roommate gets picky about setting up ground rules for water usage or power usage, claiming “I don’t take long showers” or “I don’t have a TV,” “so I should pay less,” then you may have an issue. Also be wary of the roommate who asks for a short-term loan to cover his or her portion of the security deposit. This is not the right way to start out the relationship.
2. Create a system for sharing items: Who is bringing a TV? The dishes? The stereo equipment? If you have a lot of DVDs, how will you keep track of who owns what? If you can establish a system upfront, it can prevent some serious messiness down the road.
Red flag: This is kind of tricky, because you don’t want to be anal about who owns what, but you do want a simple system where you can easily identify personal items that are in community space. Even finding little colored stickers can be a simple solution. The key during this exercise is to see who is flexible and can work toward a group solution.
3. Talk about a guest policy: Does your roommate have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Do they like to have people in from out of town? Establish clear boundaries on how many overnights is too many.
Red flag: If you get pushback from a roommate, or if they avoid the topic altogether, saying, “We’ll figure it out later,” stop the process. Putting off the tough conversation will only make it more difficult.
4. Set ground-rules for conversational discussion topics: Politics and religion can be pretty hot topics. Do you want to establish some ground rules about them? Some people don’t mind spirited debate. Others do. Get it out on the table.
Red flag: If you can feel your blood boiling when a potential roommate starts spouting off on politics or religion, this might not be a good match. Chances are the issue is going to slip out, and unless you forbid the topic entirely, tempers could flare in the heat of the moment.
5. Create cleaning parameters: This can be a tough one. If you currently live with a potential roommate on the same dorm floor, try and take a peek at their room. Does their approach to housekeeping match yours? If the potential roommate currently lives in a different apartment, perhaps meet them at their location so you can see what’s in store for you.
Red flag: First, you need to assess what you’re willing to deal with. Can you cut a roommate some slack if you’re not in alignment? If you find it’s a big deal with you or the roommate, don’t even bother moving forward.
6. Set ground rules regarding friends and lifestyle: It’s one thing to discuss overnight visitation. But what if you flat out don’t like a roommate’s friends? Be upfront with a potential roommate if you think this will be an issue. If necessary, get some ironclad rules on visiting hours.
Red flag: If someone snickers at your concerns and won’t recognize your feelings, then don’t just assume the issue will get worked out. On the contrary, plan on it getting worse.
Put Key Tools in Place to Head Off Conflicts
You’ve focused on the key issues that can divide roommates. If everything seems hunky-dory, then proceed with the relationship.
However, we would also recommend putting in a few extra tools to ensure everything proceeds without a hitch:
- Establish a regular face-to-face meeting. I knew a group of eight girls who roomed together. They all agreed to have “roomie dinner” together once a month, and talk about any issues. Sometimes they had things to talk about, sometimes they didn’t. What was important was the venue existed. As a nice by-product, this helped strengthen their overall relationship. Try and establish some form of face-to-face communication on a regular basis.
- Create a method for dealing with issues: Not to get too anal, but establish some ground-rules for how you’ll deal with conflict when it arises. What you really want to avoid is a situation when you’re dealing with issues by post-it notes, cell phones, social media, or email. Things can easily get misinterpreted when that happens.
- Create a document regarding all the financial issues and sign it. It’s a great idea to flesh out the specific regarding potential areas of conflict, especially the financial kind of conflict. Get it in writing from everyone out of gates, and then give everyone a copy.
- Download our Roommate Resolution guide. This is a great tool for establishing your Conflict Resolution style. Use it when you searching for a roommate, and try and pinpoint their conflict resolution style.
Dealing with roommate problems is no picnic. It will cost you time and money, and cause you a lot of stress. Be proactive and use the steps we described here. Not only will you nip any problem in the bud, you’ll also cement a great relationship for the coming year.
And just for good measure, here are some more great roommate memes.