With home prices in the Dallas, Fort Worth area rising rapidly and the market becoming difficult for buyers, going for the convenience and low price of an apartment is becoming more attractive—if not outright necessary. For singles looking, one bedroom apartments can be pricier per square foot than two bedroom apartments. Shacking up with roommates can bring down the price and open up the options. That does, however, present the problem of having another human breathing air inside your apartment sanctuary. How can you cope with this dire situation?
Even grown people who should darn well know better need upfront and blatant instructions on what is and isn't acceptable. Schedule a time for you and your roommate to sit down and give each other quality attention. Together, create a list of rules that need to be followed. You might feel basic writing up rules like "Wash your own dishes" or "Take out the trash if it's full", but those are the kinds of things that some of the coddled products of the American school system struggle to accomplish.
Apartment roommate rules typically fall into two categories: cleanliness and activities. Cleanliness rules are usually straightforward and easy to identify, although some apartment sharers make the mistake of only setting cleanliness rules for the public areas (apartment living room, kitchen, breakfast nook), then you end up spraying air freshener every time your not-so-tidy roommate opens their bedroom door. If you both happen to be the “within chaos is cleanliness” type that are too busy, lazy, tired, etc. to clean [we’re looking at you, Tyler Levy], agree upfront to invest in an apartment cleaning service. Splitting the bill makes it very manageable to get a bi-weekly apartment clean.
Activity rules are a little more complicated. Usually, a noise ordinance like "Quiet between 11P and 7A" is on the list, and it might even be one of the rules in your lease. A 24-hour apartment party notification with veto option is handy to avoid issues like you trying to have a romantic dinner at home while ten bros play beer pong in the living room. You'll probably want to set rules on the amount of clothing necessary in public spaces in your apartment home, especially since summer has a way of making people want to strip down as much as possible.
Just because you let your apartment roommate know what the deal is doesn't mean that they'll follow through on every stipulation.
Doing apartment chores is usually the first to be ignored, with laundry left sitting in the machines for days and the dishes slowly piling up around the kitchen counter while no one claims responsibility or has any idea where they came from. That's why you need some form of consequences and repercussions in your rules. Hitting the wallet is always good, so tack on a "Crappy Roommate fee" for violations. You can also remove compromise rules; for example, if you split time on the big TV in the living room every hour, don't give up that remote until they get their act together.
If they do handle their business, though, you should both be ready to lay on the positive reinforcement like a court-assigned shrink. Compliment them on their housekeeping skills. Give them a hug—although mixing physical affection with household chores might bring up some of that parental trauma running rampant in millennials. Pour on that sugar until they become stuck in shape as candy-coated chore machines. Don't be afraid to mix it up with a little passive-aggressiveness or shade throwing, either. Spill the tea over other roommates you've had who didn't do their chores, especially if you have multiple roommates now.
Life is chaos, and adding in more people just makes everything that much worse. If your apartment roommate starts swiping right a lot, one of those beaus could end up being a buy-one-get-one roommate (significant other of your roommate that wasn't on your lease) and changing up the whole house dynamic.
BOGO roommates aren't always bad; they can bring in more cash to cover some on the food restocking and rent, or they could clean up both of their messes better than the original roommate cleaned up his or her own.
The unexpected can be little things, too. You might be doing well with your new apartment roommate, getting along with no strife in your life. Habits get locked into place, and you form a nice little pattern of existence inside your apartment home. You will think everything's okay—then suddenly, you were wrong. You'll start to notice cringe-worthy habits that grow on your nerves after you thought you knew someone but then they relaxed and exposed their true self. The only thing that you can do is address the problem as soon as you recognize it, adjust the rules, and move forward.
One of the best things you can do for living with a roommate is finding an apartment that you BOTH really love. Being at peace in your own space extends outwards, so use an apartment locator to match you with the right place. With diligence, luck, and a whole lot of patience, living with a roommate is tolerable and potentially even enjoyable.