Students share their tips on ways they make living with others more enjoyable.

By Reese Oxner
The Shorthorn senior staff

For many students, college is the first time they will be sharing a living space with someone other than their family members.

Without proper precautions, having roommates can become complicated. UTA students offer their best tips to survive living with one or multiple roommates.

Open the dialogue

Communicating with roommates is crucial, architecture sophomore Melissa Farrell said.

It’s like living at home with parents, she said. They want to know what to expect.

Decide on a form of communication that works best for your group, she said. Whether it’s by text, a mobile app or a whiteboard hanging in a common area, make it easy for everyone to know what is happening.

Farrell said she lives with five other people, so they created a GroupMe group message to stay in touch. It lets them keep tabs on plans, where each person is or even plan social outings as a group.

Communicating problems pre-emptively can help prevent issues later on, interdisciplinary studies junior Chloe Lewis said.

Instead of letting resentments build up, address problems as soon as possible, she said.

Sharing isn’t always caring

Not everyone is cool with the finders keepers rule. Biomedical engineering junior Shravya Attravanam suggests designating areas for each roommate’s food, and labeling it when stored in common areas like the refrigerator.

It should be stated plainly what food is off limits and what is up for grabs—if any. A designated area for house or dorm snacks can be initiated to share, if the roommates agree, she said.

Additionally, allowing each person to have their own space is important, Farrell said. Staying in an apartment or house might allow people to have their own space, but shared rooms can be trickier.

“Make sure you have your own half of the room,” she said. “Divide the space.”

She said it’s also crucial for students in shared rooms to pick up after themselves and maintain a clean environment, since they are living in close quarters.

Find your match

Not every personality is equally suited to rooming or housing together, and if the opportunity arises to choose a roommate, plan a conversation before making the decision, Lewis said.

Compare schedules, lifestyles, preferences and even things like how early they wake up or how late they go to bed, she said. Make sure they’re compatible, and come up with compromises early on.

Sometimes friends can seem like an obvious choice as roommates, but it may hurt the friendship, she said. Before friends choose to become roommates with each other, they should take time to discuss compatibility.

The best of friends won’t necessarily be good roommates, she said.

However, it’s not all bad news.

Lewis lives with her best friend and said it makes things simpler for the two of them. They understand each other and what to expect.

It’s nice having someone always there, she said.

Everyone should try having a roommate, at least once in their life, she said.

“They’re kind of like built-in friends,” Farrell said.

Roommate contract

A roommate contract is an agreement made between roommates on allowed behaviors, standards and preferences, Lewis said. Things like having guests over, cooking smelly foods or how late music can be playing are all things that can be included.

Set the ground rules early on to avoid conflict later, she said.

The contract can be long or short, with different levels of complexity, or no formal document at all.

The importance is understanding the other people you live with, Lewis said.