Living with other people is a very big part of the college experience. It helps you learn a lot about yourself, and better yet, what you like and dislike in other people. Whether you are coming in as a freshmen or a continuing student trying to find a new living situation, being thrown into a living environment with people you don't know/don't know as well as you think you do is pretty crazy. Having more than one roommate/housemate can be an even tougher challenge, but here are some tips that will hopefully help you make the most out of your situation.
Set some ground rules: If you are moving into an on-campus apartment, you may not even know all of your roommates yet. Instead of waiting four weeks wondering who the heck actually lives in your place, have a get together with your house and introduce yourselves. No one likes rules, but setting some ground rules that everyone can agree to might be a good idea, like when it should be "quiet," are you allowed to have overnight guests, etc.
Lindsay Banks, a second year psychology student at UC Santa Cruz, said "get things out in the open right away; you don't want to wait until it gets awkward."
Even if you got to pick the people you are living with, living with someone is totally different than just hanging out with them. This is where people's true colors come out, and if you already have a few rules set, and have open communication, some potential fights might be eliminated.
Here are some rules that people on Yahoo Answers suggest.
Be courteous: Living with a lot of people means a lot of shared space. While you yourself should feel comfortable in your home, you want to make sure you are letting other people feel the same way.
"This year we set a limit on our bathroom time because there are 6 of us on our hall plus random people that like to use our small bathroom," said Mary Medeiros, a second year MCD biology student at UC Santa Cruz.
Setting limits is definitely a good idea, especially since the mornings are like a rush hour when everyone needs to get in that bathroom!
What can also help is learning each other's schedules and figuring out the best times to shower and such. You wouldn't want to make someone late because you are taking an hour long shower would you? If you kind of plan out your timing, you'll feel less stressed in the morning because you won't have to wonder if you'll be going to class with smelly breath from not being able to brush your teeth or not.
Cleaning: A lot of people equals a big mess if you aren't careful. The main thing that a lot of roommates argue over is doing the dishes. If Jessica just made pasta and Sam wants to use the saucepan but it's dirty, who should have to clean it? Jessica will say she'll get around to it, but Sam wants the pan now and insists that she do it since it's her mess. A huge fight breaks out over a saucepan.
How you are going to deal with these situations will vary between individuals, but my roommate and I usually do our own dishes, and if we want something that is dirty, we will just wash it off real fast. Of course, when there are more people, things can get dirty a lot faster, and it wouldn't be fair for one person to have to do it all the time.
Another house keeping matter that a lot of people seem to fight over is whose turn it is to take out the trash. Making a chore sheet is probably the most logical solution on paper, but a lot of people don't like that method, so you'll really have to work it out and see what the best situation is for you and your roommates. If things like this are bothering you, you need to mention it. The longer you hold it in, the more likely you will blow up over something silly like a dirty saucepan.
Here are some more tips for how to split up chores and stay out of fights.
Food: Food can be yet another matter that can start up some fights. You and your roommates need to decide if you are going to share everything or certain things or if everyone is on their own. It can actually be a lot cheaper if everyone collaborates and shares but making it equal can be a bit tricky.
If you don't want to share, that can be tricky too, because you know there will be some people who will probably at some point or another eat some of your food.
Also keep in mind that fridges don't get bigger the more people you have, and storage is limited, so if everyone is on their own, you may fight over space. This is yet another thing where you will have to work out the kinks.
My roommate and I opted for the "share everything," which has worked out well so far. Here's some more advice from The Kitchen about how you should deal with food situations.
Social life: Having people over at your place is always fun, but you want to make sure that your friends don't overstay their welcome. If you're in an apartment it's a bit better than a dorm, since you guys can hang in the living room and not disturb your roommates as much, but you wouldn't want them over so frequently that your roommates start holding a grudge.
If you want to have a party, you need to make sure to okay it with everyone who lives there. I know it sucks, but it's their place too (you might want to figure out if they would be okay with it or not before you decide to live with them).
Living with people is definitely an experience that will both annoy the crap out of you and turn you into a more tolerable person. You will have to learn how to compromise, how to speak up for yourself and learn how to pick your battles. The going may be tough, but you can do it!