Category Archives: Sharing An Apartment

Sharing an Apartment: Effective Ways to Handle Conflicts

When you share an apartment there are many things to consider. We’ve gone over Roommate Agreements, the pros and cons of having a roommate, and also how to interview a new roommate. Now it’s time to look at ways to make sharing an apartment a successful endeavor.

Look at this scenario. You’ve moved into your new Bethlehem apartment and you interviewed and found the perfect roommate. She’s a great person with similar interests, very honest, comes from a nice family, likes to watch Mad Men with you, and has a cat that you actually like.  She plays the violin and doesn’t practice at midnight but only during the times the two of you have agreed upon. You and your roommate have been equally sharing the expenses for your new Bethlehem apartment and everything seems to be going fine.

But the inevitable has happened. You are in the midst of a disagreement, you are not completely sure what’s wrong, and your roommate has stopped talking to you. She slams her door often, and she won’t let her cat out of her room, so the poor thing is meowing a lot, and this bothers you as well. You are late for work. You don’t have time for this drama. You leave all the dishes unwashed even though it’s your turn to do them, and you purposely used your roommate’s expensive shampoo this morning, a big handful, just to annoy her. At this rate, you know the crap will hit the fan, no doubt about it.

What to do?

The first thing to consider is that retaliation is never the answer. And neither is silence. You have to talk to your roommate and make clear what you don’t understand, what you feel, and what you need. And, you have to do this as soon as possible.

The following are some effective ways to handle a conflict.

  • First, always stay calm when confronting your roommate. Ask him or her to talk when they are ready. Speak openly and honestly and focus only on the problem that concerns you both at the present moment. Keep on this topic. Do not deviate into other things that may be bothering you. This will side-track the conversation, and hinder progress in solving your issue.
  • Ask: What can we do together to change the present situation? Be respectful of each others’ opinion and try to understand the others’ point of view.
  • Once you know what the other is thinking and what they want, avoid using attack words. Make sure both of you are on the same issue  and use positive, helpful words to explain your view.
  • If you just cannot see eye to eye on the issue at hand, it may be necessary to bring in a mediator.  This is a person who does not live in the apartment, and does not hold a special friendship with either of you. Consider someone who would stay neutral when hearing each point of view. An outside person perhaps can see deeper into your problem and offer suggestions to help the two of you balance out your conflict.

With thoughtfulness, honesty, and calmness, handling a conflict, though not a pleasant thing to do, can be easier and less stressful on both yourself and your roommate and make sharing an apartment a great experience.

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Sharing an Apartment: Roommate Agreements

One of the best ways to share your apartment peacefully is for you and your new roommate to put together a Roommate Agreement. This agreement can be as formal or informal as you want, as long as you both agree to the terms presented. Both parties (or more if you share your space with 2 or more people) should sign the agreement, promising to uphold the issues presented. You and your roommate should sit down and take some time to address the issues that below and write up your agreement according to the specifications of your living space, as well as your personal preferences.

In the long run having this agreement as a reminder of each of your responsibilities will ease tension when disagreements happen. All childishness and drama will be set aside, and you and your roommate will live together peacefully…and have fun too!

The following are some things to consider when forming your Roommate Agreement:

  • Expenses.  This for many is the hardest issue, but once things are made clear as to who is responsible to pay for what life together will be easier. With respect for each other decide on the rent payment division, food and grocery expenses, and any subsequent utility expenses such as electricity, garbage pick up, or parking.
  • Storage Spaces.  If your apartment, like many, is limited to closet and cabinet space, thoughtful division for personal items will be helpful. Examine all the storage areas together and agree to who will use what space. Keep the space division as equal as possible. This includes kitchen cabinets, refrigerator shelf space, bathroom cabinets, closets, and the entertainment center if you have one, and any built-in shelving.
  • Space of Apartment in General. Consider what areas of the apartment are shared, like kitchen, living room, and bathroom, and what areas are considered private space, such as your bedroom. Agree to how each of you will approach the others’ private space and adhere to this agreement.
  • Personal Items. It is most important to consider what items are to be shared and what items are to be kept for individual personal use. Decide how all food items will be shared and be respectful. If one of you has dietary issues this could be very important. Also make agreements on other personal items like shampoos, towel usage, and other grooming essentials like blow dryer use. Apply labels to items that are personal so there is no confusion.
  • Cleanliness. If both of you are neat freaks I see no problems! But, as with normal living, not all of us are neat 100% of the time. Make an agreement to keep the place looking neat by not leaving unnecessary items around the shared spaces, like clothing, used dishes, ashtrays, magazines, etc. Also, and most importantly, make a chore list for each of your weekly responsibilities to keep the apartment clean. These chores can be rotated weekly or to your own preferences. In this way each of you will be clear on who is responsible for what and held accountable. Post the list in the kitchen area, or somewhere visible as a reminder to get things done.
  • Noise issues.  Make rules to acceptable noise levels for certain times of day. If you or your roommate is a musician, make agreements to when and where you will each practice your instrument and at what times of day so as not to inconvenience the other. Other things to consider are music playing and TV watching and the volume used for each.
  • Parties and Overnight guests.  Another thing to consider is when and how often each of you will have overnight guests or parties.  Set agreeable limits.  Decide on how much notice needs to be given to your roommate when planning a party or having someone stay over. It’s no fun to wake up and make your way half naked to the kitchen for coffee, only to find some strange guy sitting there. Be sure to inform your roommate beforehand when having someone over. This way no surprises or problems will arise. Planning to have a party together will be tons of fun and with each of you informed properly, with enough time to make arrangements for it or otherwise, this will keep the occasion from getting ruined with a disagreement.

Hope you found some of these suggestions interesting and useful. If you are already sharing an apartment, there is no reason not to incorporate a Roommate Agreement into your present arrangement. This will inevitably help to remove potential conflicts.  Thanks for reading.

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Sharing an Apartment: Drawbacks of Having a Roommate

In continuation with my series of thoughts on having a roommate I’ve given the readers the Roommate Questionnaire, which covered how to interview a potential roommate, and most recently answered the question of why have a roommate to begin with.

Additional Article: 

Helpful Tips on Finding a good Roommate

 

The hardest things to consider when deciding to share or not to share your living space are the drawbacks of having a roommate. Unfortunately there are a few of these to consider before taking the plunge into a shared apartment.

The main problem I’ve discovered is personality clashes. Even with friends as roommates, the inevitable argument will surface, and sometimes it can go so deep as to not be solvable. In this case, a good conversation/argument idea should be set in place so that you can talk out your problems and not allow them to fester and become a disruption to your friendship and your apartment living. Often you will meet someone and become instant friends. This perfect friend then becomes your roommate, and months down the line you discover that your roommate isn’t quite the person he or she seemed to be.  This is perhaps the biggest disadvantage to having a roommate.  If you or the other person decide that living together just isn’t working out, another set of problems will set in.

If you break your arrangement, you have to consider if you can continue to pay the rent on your own. Before this happens, a strategic Roommate Agreement should be signed and a lease should be signed by both parties. This way, if your roommate leaves, he or she will still be obligated to pay, which will be a financial relief at least. A Roommate Agreement will hold each roommate accountable for bills, rent, household duties, entertainment schedules and privacy issues, as well as the possible moving out problem that may arise. In another post I’ll address the ways to approach a Roommate Agreement.

Another disadvantage to have a roommate is lack of privacy. If you love to have people around all the time, this will not be so much of a problem, but there will be moments when you wish to be alone, and coming home to a roommate and her possible friends that she’s entertaining will not be a welcome factor. There will be times when you need your own space, so setting boundaries in advance can help to alleviate possible arguments. You each should be entitled to your own private space, such as your bedrooms, that must be acknowledged by both of you and maintained with the utmost honor.

Having a roommate can be a wonderful experience. You can develop a friendship that will last a lifetime. Consider all the drawbacks that sharing your apartment will entail before making the final commitment and be sure to sign a Roommate Agreement and a rental lease with your potential roommate. As I said, a post will follow on this idea. Thanks for reading.

Helpful Tips on Finding a good Roommate..   Read More

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Image: Apartment Therapy

Sharing an Apartment: Why have a Roommate?

You’ve found the perfect  apartment in Easton Pa. It has large rooms, hardwood floors throughout, an island kitchen with relatively new appliances, and two nice sized bedrooms with walk-in closets….The location is great, and you can park off-street with easy access to your door. It’s a renter’s dream come true. You’ve searched for so long…

But the rent of this dynamic Easton apartment is way more than you can afford. In fact, it’s almost double, and you have to tag on some utility expenses. While you nurse your broken heart you realize that the apartment has enough room for two people.  So maybe you won’t be able to make that smaller bedroom a workout/office space. If you really want the space, a roommate would make it within reach.

Help with paying the rent is one of the main reasons renters share their apartments, but there are other benefits too. Of those I talked with, the main reason may have been help with the living expenses, but most found the duel living situation satisfying, as long as they were compatible with their roommate. Sharing a living space with a friend is always the first option. Since you already know the person and have things in common, a living together situation can be an easy transition, and can help grow the friendship. Some renters noted some great advantages to having a roommate that I didn’t think of.  Sharing the chores what one. They made a list of what they wanted done, and each roommate checked off their duty each week.

Sharing in the food expenses was another benefit many found. One girl had a roommate who was studying to be chef. This was a luxury in disguise, for her friend was constantly trying new recipes and cooking some creative things up, which relieved her of the cooking duty most of the time. She, in turn, cleaned up the kitchen.

One roommate traveled a lot with her job. This gave the roommate her own private space regularly, with the luxury of having someone to share the rent. The traveling roommate could count on her roommate to water her plants for her while she was away, and since she had a pet cat, her roommate, of course, took care of the feeding and litter box duties.

Another key benefit to rooming with someone in your Easton apartment is the fact of companionship.  Many people do not like to live alone. Having a roommate will almost guarantee a lack of loneliness. Sharing your apartment with a relative or trusted friend that you get along with well assures you of potential for great conversations, help with problems, and a partner in crime when having a party or  some other endeavor.  Having a roommate, though a challenge at times (we’ll cover some of the challenges in a future post), basically has more benefits than drawbacks. The expenses alone, in this time of financial wows and cutbacks, is reason enough to consider sharing your space.

If you are a renter or are considering a move, visit the Renters Corner at the top of this blog for useful information on making your move easy and stress free.

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Sharing an Apartment: Roommate Questionnaire

Finding a roommate to share your Allentown apartment can be a difficult task, but one of the key strategies on your search is to meet the potential roommate in person and interview them. They in turn may do the same. I discovered through experience some interesting questions that you should include on your questionnaire and thought I’d share.

image: Cafe by Stockholm Syndrome

As protocol for the meet up, make sure you decide on a public place to have the interview, especially if this is a stranger responding to your ad for a roommate. Make it a comfortable place, where you can have a coffee or tea and get to know each other. Avoid bars and liquor. You want to have a clear head and a clear atmosphere. Also, I suggest you meet during the day if possible, on a weekend perhaps if you both work full time, or during a lunch hour.

Open your meeting with a nice greeting, and a handshake. First impressions? Take notes in your mind when you can. Your first impression will take you far. Trust them. An immediate bad feeling can be telling you something. When you sit down, don’t be afraid to bring out your list and take notes. This is your place you want to share after all. You will want to find someone truly compatible to make life easier, not more stressful. With that said, here are the questions:

  • Have you shared an apartment with someone before?
  • Was the person you roomed with a relative, girlfriend or boyfriend, co-worker, or friend?
  • Why did you decide to move out?
  • Was there any problem with your previous roommate?
  • Do you have a full time job?
  • What are you work hours?
  • Do you do any work at home? How often?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you use recreational drugs or alcohol?
  • Are you in a serious relationship? Will your boyfriend or girlfriend be staying over and how often?
  • Do you have a special diet that you follow, vegetarian, diabetic, vegan, or any other?
  • Are you religious? Does your religious principles effect you daily living and how so?
  • Do you consider yourself a neat person or carefree and sloppy?
  • Will you be will to do a share of the chores to maintain a neat and clean apartment?
  • Will you share the cost of cleaning products for the apartment?
  • Are you willing to work out and divide the cost of a grocery list each week?
  • Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?
  • Friends? How many?
  • Will your friends visit a lot, and do you like to throw parties for your friends? (This isn’t a bad thing, as long as the two of you are in agreement!)
  • Do you watch much television? What do you watch? How often?
  • What time do you usually go to bed, and what time do you get up?
  • Are you a musician? What instrument do you play? How often do you practice?
  • Are you willing to co-sign a lease?
  • Are you willing to sign a roommate agreement?
  • Are you able to supply references from previous roommates, employer, or previous landlord?

Asking any of these questions will open a dialogue with your new acquaintance and will help you get a feel of what the person is like. Keep in mind that this list is designed for an interview with someone you’ve never met before.  If the person you’re meeting is an acquaintance, adjust the questioning accordingly….or perhaps not! It’s up to you, but do take the time to get to know a person before jumping in to sharing your Allentown apartment.

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