After four years, one dorm room, one apartment, and two houses, I’ve had my fair share of roommate experiences. Over those four years I’ve had a total of 11 roommates (both of my houses were five-bedroom houses). Although several people told me that you don’t really know someone until you live with them, I couldn’t quite understand how true the phrase was until I experienced it first-hand.
Eventually, your roommate’s boyfriend will come over, eat ramen from your favorite bowl, and you will want to dump its contents on him. You will learn very quickly that dishes in your apartment will be used by others at some point. It just happens when living in close quarters with someone. You can either talk to your roommate and set boundaries or say nothing until you are so frustrated you explode and are labeled the uptight roommate.
Talk to your roommate about sharing things. Some items are off-limits; like food. I’ve never heard of roommates sharing food work out well. Talk about what you are and are not okay with and make sure that the person who used the dish is the person who cleans it, regardless of ownership.
Your roommate will have people over to play beer pong and blare Jay-Z on a night you have to study. You will be annoyed with your roommate for being loud and not having to wake up at 8 a.m. the next morning like you do. You will also be mad you are unable to join. Try and set ground rules before situations like this happen, because if you don’t, you’ll have to put up with the noise while you study in your room or leave for a quieter place like the library or student union.
Your roommate will have different friends than you. Your roommate will meet friends in class and will make friends at work, bonding over things you have no idea about. This is a good thing; you live, sleep, shower and eat in the same air as your roommate; give them space to make separate friends so you don’t get annoyed with one another.
Your roommate will be both someone you like and someone you dislike at times. The bottom line is you have to learn how to communicate with your roommate. Instead of being mad you are the only one who does the dishes and cleans your place, ask your roommate to help or take turns cleaning with you.
Like it or not, you signed a lease and are living together for the rest of the year. Make the best of it and try to be patient. Talk to your roommate and, if need be, vent to your parents, siblings or other friends; because chances are, your roommate is doing the exact same thing.
Going away to college can be significantly more expensive than living at home. The main reason for this is the cost of rent for an apartment or dorm. Some students are fortunate enough to be awarded scholarships that pay for housing, but unless your grades are among the top percentage in the country, you’ll be paying for it on your own.
When deciding on where to live, you must first consider everything you will be paying for while living off-campus that would otherwise be part of your housing payment in the dorms. The money you pay towards on-campus housing usually covers air-conditioning and heating, water, electricity, internet, and cable (Research the college you might attend to see what they provide). Make sure to take every expense into account to make sure one is more financially viable than the other.
From my experience, and what I’ve heard from others, on-campus housing is a lot more expensive than living off-campus. Apartment prices will vary depending on what part of the country or state you are in, but if you split the rent with one or more roommates, you’ll most likely be paying less than you would in dorms. If you are lucky enough to go to college with a friend you can split rent and utilities with — that will probably be your best bet — but if not, you might find it worthwhile to live on campus to make friends and possibly move out with them the following year.
Also, If you plan on living far enough from campus that would require a significant commute, be sure to think about the price of a parking pass or bus pass and the time it will take to get to class. A friend of mine thought to ask the manager of a restaurant near campus if he could park behind their establishment; his request was accepted and now parks there for free and makes the short walk to campus. Be aware of agreements like this that could save you time and money.
Remember, with off-campus living comes the chance of you becoming lazy and blowing off school because of you don’t feel like making the commute. So if you are the type of person who might fall into that sort of mindset fairly easily, I would suggest living closer to, or even on-campus to avoid this behavior and possibly flunking out.