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The 7 Rules of Being a Good Roommate

Some roommate rules are just common courtesy (or seem like they should be), but others aren't as obvious until you’ve either experienced the problem or have been labeled as the problem.

Jamie Vincent

April 08, 2015

The 7 Rules of Being a Good Roommate
Through hearing the stories of my friends’ roommate problems and through being a roommate myself, I've learned some of the do's and don’ts of roommate-hood. Some roommate rules are just common courtesy (or seem like they should be), but others aren't as obvious until you’ve either experienced the problem or have been labeled as the problem. Below are seven rules to follow for being a better roommate, so you can avoid being the problem, and, hopefully, encourage your roommate to be considerate by leading by example.

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1. Don’t lock them out of the room while they’re showering.
Try to make a habit out of considering where your roommate is and whether they are likely to have a key on their person when you go to lock the door. (I’ve locked my roommate out during her shower on more than one occasion. I’m working on it.)
2. Knock before entering, especially when you have company.
I don’t personally make a habit of knocking each time I enter our room, but some roommates might prefer you do. But, I do make sure I give a warning knock before I bring guests in, in case my roommate is trying to change or needs privacy.

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3. Be mindful of noise.
If your roommate is trying to sleep or study, be aware of your noise level. Watch Netflix through your headphones and take your phone conversations or guests to the lounge.
4. Be mindful of light. You don’t need to sit in total darkness if your roommate’s trying to sleep, but be considerate by turning on a bedside lamp or reading light rather than the harsh overhead light.

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5. Be mindful of smells.
It’s obvious that spoiled food should be thrown away and clothes should be washed, but you should also be aware that “bad” smells are not universal. Strong scents which you find appealing may be disturbing to your roommate. Your cleaning products, scented candles and incense (which you probably shouldn't have lit in your room anyway) can cause your roommate and hallmates’ nausea, headaches and even asthma attacks, depending on the strength of the scent. Or, they may just think it smells bad, and since it’s their room, too, they have a say in how the space smells.
6. Keep your mess to yourself.
Keep your dirty clothing and dirty tissues on your side of the room. Otherwise, germs spread and personal items become lost. And you shouldn’t force the results of your habits on your roommate. They probably have their own mess to deal with.
7. Don’t force your roommate out. The sock-on-the-doorknob policy is not okay unless it’s been explicitly OK'd by your roommate. Your roommate should never be kept out of their room without at least some warning. If you need the room to yourself, ask your roommate beforehand or develop a system which both are comfortable with. And, in general, be courteous—don’t abuse your roommate’s willingness by constantly demanding the room for yourself.

Do you have any other roommate rules you'd add to the list? If so, please share below!

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