on Oct 29, 2019 7:45:37 AM

Roommate tips for young professionals

If you’re just starting out in your career, you likely live on a fairly tight budget. You have to weigh carefully where your money goes each month, balancing the costs of things like food, clothes, transportation, entertainment, and housing. Housing is usually the highest fixed monthly cost that people have to meet, so keeping it low can make a big difference. One way to cut your housing cost and make more room in your budget is to live with a roommate.

You probably had roommates in college and learned some basic skills for getting along with strangers in close quarters. Now that you’re a professional, however, your expectations of a roommate (and your potential roommates’ expectations of you) are probably a little different. Young professionals have greater responsibilities and more demanding schedules than most college students, which can influence their habits significantly. Professionals are less likely to be up for weekend-long parties, for example, or to feel like they should tolerate a roommate’s sloppiness or flakiness. If you’re a new professional thinking of moving in with a roommate, these tips can help you lay the foundation for a comfortable and mutually beneficial living arrangement.

Use your words.

Clear and open communication is your primary tool for building a respectful relationship with your roommate, which is essential to a positive living experience. When you begin discussing sharing an apartment or house, be clear about your expectations, and ask about your potential roommate’s expectations. Beginning by discussing typical sources of contention is a powerful way to prevent many roommate problems. Having a preemptive conversation about topics like these can help you avoid many common roommate challenges:


  • Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you like to have lots of company, or do you prefer your home to be a sanctuary? Do you want to establish guidelines about providing advance notice of guests, a limit on numbers of guests or duration of their stay (is overnight okay)? What if one of you wants a significant other to stay over frequently?


  • Are there hours that you need quiet? How loudly do you like to play music (and are your tastes compatible)? Do you have hobbies that are noisy (like practicing an instrument)?


  • Lay out your expectations clearly around things like dishes, clutter, and routine cleaning responsibilities.


  • If your apartment allows pets, are you open to having them? Do you have allergies to any pets? What pets would be acceptable or unacceptable? 


  • Understanding each other’s schedules will help you negotiate things like bathroom time, meal preparation, and the best times to have guests.

Bills and other living costs

  • Make agreements about how and when you will pay rent, bills, and other costs.
    • Who will make the rent payment? What happens if one of you doesn’t have your share on time?
    • Whose name will be on the utility bill? If one of you is away from home for an extended period, will you still share the cost?
    • How and when will you and your roommate transfer money between you to cover your respective costs?
    • How will you handle grocery costs? Will you share some items (like dish soap, toilet paper, and condiments) while keeping other things to yourselves? If you’ll be sharing some items, do you already make similar purchases? (For example, if you insist on eco-friendly products and your roommate hunts for the lowest prices, sharing might not be a good option).  

Choose wisely.

Even the best plans won’t prevent all disagreements, so it’s also important to be able to talk about anything that comes up calmly and with consideration for both of your perspectives. When choosing a roommate, avoid people who seem to struggle with respectful communication. People who tend to trash talk, gossip, fight, or focus only on their own interests will be difficult to live with.

Don’t let it fester.

When issues do arise, address them as they come up rather than letting them grow into bigger problems. You’re likely to have a much easier conversation with your roommate if you casually mention that you’d prefer her new boyfriend not be walking around the apartment in his underwear when you get up in the morning the first time it happens than after he’s become a fixture in your home and made it a habit that is wearing away at your last nerve.

Embrace differences as learning opportunities.

You don’t have to be your roommate’s best friend or come from the same home town to have a good and rewarding relationship. Don’t discount people who come from different backgrounds or have different worldviews than your own; forming relationships with people whose lives are different from yours is one of the best ways of exploring the larger world as well as understanding your own background and perspective on a new level. As long as you can communicate with respect and reach agreements about your expectations, having a roommate who brings a different perspective can be a richly rewarding experience.

Finding the right apartment can also be a challenge, but we have an apartment community for everyoneHubbell Realty provides a wide variety of housing option across the Des Moines metro, including the highly desirable downtown area!