Published: Jan. 9, 2020

Living with roommates requires adjustment. It can be different from living with family, and sometimes compromise is necessary. Here are some tips to make the most of your roommate experience at CU.

Chip and his roommates at CU Boulder.Set ground rules

Talk with your roommates about expectations, habits and routines when you move in together. Some topics to discuss may include:

  • Quiet hours and music/TV volume
  • Cleanliness of shared spaces (dishes, clutter, etc.)
  • Overnight visitors (parties, significant others, etc.)
  • Borrowing or using each other’s things (electronics, food, etc.)
  • Purchasing common items (cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Parking arrangements

Consider creating a roommate agreement to establish common ground rules and hold everyone accountable. On-campus residents can reach out to their RA for help in setting up a roommate agreement. Off-campus residents can use this roommate agreement template as a starting point.

Talk through issues

If you’re upset with a roommate, it’s better to address it sooner than later before it festers. Addressing issues through text, social media or a note on the door can seem easier but can lead to miscommunication or increased frustration. Since we can’t control how the message is received, it may lead to more issues down the road.

Instead, choose a time to bring up the issue in person, ideally when you are both at home with no distractions. Make a plan and think about how you can express your needs—this will help you feel more prepared, and the conversation won’t catch you off guard.

Be open to compromise and change

While it would be nice, change doesn’t happen overnight. Disagreements don’t always resolve the way we’d like, and more often than not, seeing progress requires a series of conversations and a willingness to keep trying.

If things feel like they’re unresolved, let the person know you appreciate their time and you’d like to follow up with them in the future. If things are resolved quickly, share your appreciation and gratitude with the other person and let them know you value their help and input.

If you need additional support, RAs can be a great resource to help mediate conversations and help everyone come to an agreement. Talk with your roommate, and set up a time with your RA to meet and discuss any unresolved issues.

Resources

Sometimes we need additional help when it comes to resolving roommate disagreements. If you live on campus, reach out to your RA for help.

Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution is another resource for students living on and off campus. They can help with one-on-one conflict coaching and facilitated conversations.

Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) also offers a free Relationship Hacks workshop. The workshop series provides tips and tools to help you build stronger and better relationships, including communication skills, boundaries and more.