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Top Tips for Living with Roommates

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Top Tips for Living with Roommates

Living in AP House was my very first taste of independence. A place where I had complete privacy in my room, but a friend available if needed—all it took was a walk to the shared kitchen. But of course, after a year passed, the time came when I had to move out and find a place in downtown Beppu.

My options were to move into off-campus student housing, or, with the help of the APU community and real estate agencies, rent an apartment. For many, shared apartments are a popular choice due to their cost-efficiency, but I had already become accustomed to a single room in AP House and was looking forward to getting an apartment all to myself. However, at the last minute, I decided that I should push myself out of my comfort zone, and settled on an apartment to share with two other girls. After hearing countless tales of roommate drama, I was prepared for the worst, but now looking back two and a half years later, I couldn’t be happier that I chose to take a chance. I learned to communicate through difficult matters and certainly improved my clumsy life-management skills. For those of you considering a shared apartment, here is my shortlist of five tips that made living with my roommates all the easier.

1. Get to Know Your Roommates

This goes beyond just their names and whether they prefer cats or dogs (which to me was very important). Learn about their lifestyle, personality, and priorities. Having a good grasp of each other’s habits and preferences can really help lay the framework for what to expect once you all start living together. There is a lot to talk about, so I personally found it more efficient to invite my soon-to-be roommates over for a cup of tea and talks, rather than trying to get things settled with online messages. Fostering open communication really came in handy once we started living together in one space, as we were not afraid to express our opinions—having done so even before moving in. But, don’t fret too much about living with someone who’s not your best friend. I wasn’t very close with my roommates at the time of our decision to live together, but that drove us to try even harder to communicate and make sure all the moving-in preparations were in order.

2. Have a Cleaning Schedule

Many people overlook this out of the expectation that once the house gets messy, someone will do something about it. The problem is that one person may feel like, or actually has been, cleaning much more than the others until at some point it becomes too much to deal with. Without a schedule, it’s impossible to determine if everyone has done their fair share of cleaning. So before you move in, inspect the house together, discuss how clean you want it to be, how much time and effort are required to make that happen, and set up a routine based on that. In our house, we have weekly “clean-up duty,” in which the heavily used areas are cleaned by one person, and a monthly “house duty,” where the whole house gets a full once-over by all of us.

3. Rent Doesn't Pay Itself

In AP House, basic facilities are maintained by staff and rent is withdrawn automatically, which saves you from the headache of administrative work. But, it’s a completely different story once you’ve moved out. At the end of the month, someone has to gather the bills, divide the money, and handle payments. Someone has to fetch toilet paper from the store, while someone has to set-up the new cleaning rotation. Expect these tasks and work as a team instead of leaving it to just one person! I found that keeping a written log for every month made sure that all our bills were paid on time and could account for everyone’s contribution.

4. It's All About Respect

It’s really simple: treat others how you would like to be treated. Be considerate during late hours when your roommates are studying or sleeping. Don’t touch other people’s stuff without their permission. Replace toilet paper rolls and trash bags when needed. Clean up after yourself, be it taking a shower or washing dishes after cooking. Living with others surely doesn’t allow the same freedom as living alone, but it’s a great practice for mindfulness and discipline.

5. “Fight” the Right Way

With a diverse student body on campus, it’s quite common for students from different cultures to end up sharing the same space—be it on-campus facilities or downtown living. Learning to address problems is a much healthier choice than letting them bubble over into big arguments. At our first dinner party, my roommates and I agreed that while we may not be able to avoid all fights, we can “fight” the right way—that is, to always talk it out. To sit down and have direct conversations once something bugs us, set aside negative emotions, have a safe environment for honesty and constructive criticism, and then work together to find solutions to the issue. We kept this promise to each other even during a few tough times, and that has kept us together happily until this day.

Sharing your living space with someone, when done right, can be a truly amazing experience. It allows for a different type of friendship that I can only describe as feeling like a sisterhood. I can’t even begin to tell you about all the fits of laughter in our kitchen after long tiring days, our cozy weekend dinners, or the surprise birthday parties. I sleep better at night knowing right behind the wall is someone who knows me well and who I can count on if anything happens. My roommates are my family away from home and I’m so glad that I made the once unfathomable choice of moving into a shared apartment.

The photo featured in this blog is courtesy of Do Bao Anh Thu, an alumni and former member of the APU Admissions Social Media Unit.



Cao Mieu is an APS graduate from Viet Nam. During her time at APU, she was a member of the APU Social Media Unit and a guest contributor to this blog. Named ‘Most Organized Person on the Planet’ by the APU Social Media Unit, she strongly believes that cleaning is the best form of stress relief.

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