Rules Roommates Should Agree on Before Moving In

Living with roommates isn’t always a walk in the park. Everyone has annoying habits and weird quirks. To avoid conflict and resentment, check out this article for a list of rules all roommates should agree on before moving in together.  

The Internet is rife with roommate horror stories that can discourage you from ever wanting to share an apartment with another human being. In reality, having a roommate isn’t always bad. In fact, a roommate that is a lifetime friend who is always there for you can be one of the most rewarding things in the world. When choosing who to live with, pick someone who is responsible about paying bills, as well as considerate of both your space and belongings. That way, there is a smaller chance of conflict showing its ugly head down the road. Here are a few basic rules that roommates should agree on to help foster a great roomie relationship:


Paying Bills

Money is the major source of headaches and disagreements among roommates, so deciding on how to divide the bills should be one of your first priorities. Make sure your roommates know when rent and utilities bills need to be paid. You can either divide paying for everything equally or decide which roommates are responsible for which particular bills. Use a shared calendar to mark due dates for every bill in and send out regular reminders if you know that one of the roommates is flaky and always has trouble coming up with their share of the money. Paying for things shouldn’t be solely your responsibility. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who is always late on payments, now is the time to become more responsible and ensure that you are never late when paying bills. Forcing your roommates to chase you down for money will make them resent you.



When it comes to cleanliness, everyone has their own standards. Excluding neat freaks, we all have times when things get a little messy. Roommates should discuss and mutually agree upon what is acceptable in regards to the cleanliness of common areas. For instance, a little bit of clutter in the living room may be okay, but rotting food in the kitchen in a definite no. Everyone has different standards of cleanliness, so hopefully the standards of you are your roommates line up well. Some roommates may be mutually content with living in a state of disarray. If you are the neat type, it may be a little more difficult to get roommates to conform to your standards, but overall it is important to find roommates who are willing to compromise and respect your needs.

Besides talking openly about your cleaning habits, coming up with a chore chart is a great idea. You can all take turns cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and other common spaces, or you can decide on who is responsible for what. You can even introduce penalties to spice things up. Whenever one of the rules is broken, the culprit must place $1 in a jar. You can use the money gathered throughout the month to treat yourselves to a fancy dinner or buy something for the apartment that everyone can benefit from.



Whether you live in a luxurious condo or crammed two-bedroom apartment, you will need to set a few boundaries when it comes to respecting the privacy of roommates. No barging in without knocking, no borrowing things without asking, and no going through a roommate’s stuff when he/she is not around. These are all basic rules when it comes to cohabitation, but not everybody is familiar with them.

Another thing that should be mentioned here: no roommate shaming. The possibility of sharing an embarrassing picture of your roomie on social media may sound tempting, but it is a definite no. You and your roommates are living under the same roof and you should treat each other with respect. On the same note, refrain from gossiping about the details your roommate’s life with others. Even if your roommate only brushes his teeth once a week and comes home drunk on Wednesdays, you should keep these things to yourself in order to be respectful.


Overnight Guests

This is a sensitive topic that can get out of hand quickly. Having friends stay over is usually okay if it is not excessive or disruptive. However, when significant others end up becoming unofficial roommates there can be serious problems. Talk about the issue from the very beginning and agree on what is acceptable and what is not.

Sometimes you will need to let a friend stay over. Maybe her significant other started to get abusive and she doesn’t feel comfortable going home. It should always be appropriate to lend a hand to a friend in need. Your roommates will understand, but you should absolutely consult with them about guests staying over out of respect. After all, it is their home too. Tell them what the situation is, how long your friend will be staying over, and make sure they are okay with it.



If you have a pet, your roommates shouldn’t be responsible for its well-being. You may ask them to feed it from time to time, but they probably won’t enjoy walking your dog all weekend because you left for an impromptu trip. You wouldn’t like to clean their cat’s litter box either, would you?

Allergies and pet preferences should be taken into consideration. Also, make sure there are clear expectations about who will clean up pets’ messes, handle feeding schedules, and take care of any other pet care duties.



Ideally, you and all your roommates would have the exact same sleeping schedule. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case, so it is important to discuss your weekly routine and let each other know about sleeping schedules. Always be respectful, and be as quiet as you can when everyone else is asleep. If you need to, invest in a pair of top-notch earplugs.

Setting clear cohabitation rules makes living together a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved. It can also help you foster  great friendships with your roommates that will hopefully last a lifetime.


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