Here’s one thing that every college student should understand, roommate experiences on-campus and off-campus are two completely different animals.
Sure, you may have your own or heard of some wacky roommate stories that took place on-campus, but really at the end of the day you were most likely just a walk away from a friend who you could vent to about your annoying living partner.
Also, most important of all, you know those things called bills? You know, electric, cable, TV, Internet, sewage, water, all those were neatly packaged into a magical concoction labeled Room and Board fee.
Living off-campus, now that’s the big leagues. No longer can you so easily escape your roommate’s irritating idiosyncrasies. Food becomes gold; chores become an actual thing, and bills…. Well, they become the things your parents used to always throw on the counter in disgust after sifting through the mail. Not to mention that freshman giddiness that you most likely had while living in the dorms has probably given way to a bit of sarcastic cynicism with a couple 300-level courses under your belt.
As much as you may not won’t to admit it, moving off-campus is just another step toward entering the dreaded “real world”. It can be tough taking on so much responsibility so why make it harder on yourself by having a tumultuous relationship with your roomie? Here are 5 tips for having an awesome off-campus roommate relationship…
I’ll get a little personal here. Right now I room with two of my best friends who I’ve known for a pretty long time. We decided early on that we were going to share our food and besides the occasional “Dude, did you really eat the last hot pocket” things go relatively smoothly and we actually end up individually saving a lot of money.
However, if you don’t have this situation, there’s no harm at all in sectioning off your fridge and cabinets for your food and your roommate’s food (it beats labeling the food with your name, I always thought that was a little unnecessary).
*BONUS TIP*: It may sound sketchy, but the Dollar Tree (there is one located on Joppa Road past Qdoba) actually has some pretty good deals on frozen food. I mean it’s not gourmet, but who are you kidding, a couple bags of Dino Nuggets and Tombstone Pizzas taste like filet mignon at a certain point.
Things are going to get messy; it’s just what happens when cleanliness is probably not your top priority. To avoid drowning in a pile of dirty dishes and empty water bottles make sure that both you and your roomie are on the same page and at least one of you takes action when things are getting out of hand.
If necessary, a chore chart is always a good way to designate all of the duties around your apartment. You don’t want to get to the point where you’re sharing your apartment with residents other than people, and by that I mean critters, and by critters I mean mice.
This problem can really be avoided altogether depending on you and your roomie’s specific tastes and viewing habits, but inevitably, Workaholics is going to come on at the same time as Game of Thrones and tough decisions will have to be made.
You can always invest in another cable box if you really need to and basically everything is online nowadays, but why not try to introduce your roommate to a show that you love?
Time to be an adult. At points while living off-campus you may feel like a struggling single parent living paycheck-to-paycheck just trying to put some food on the table, this is normal.
Bills suck and it can be tough proficiently taking care of them, especially if you are paying your way all by yourself. Sometimes, even figuring out how to pay the bills can be rough.
Let’s use another real life example: So at my complex, Kenilworth at Charles, monthly rent bills are dispensed, these are the easy ones, pay your share and your done.
Then there’s the dreaded BGE BILL (your electric and heat) which is sent to only one inhabitant of the apartment. Things get tricky here because it is on you guys to have one person initially pay the bill and then the rest of your roommates come together to pay their shares equally. Lastly, there’s the Comcast bill which works exactly like the BGE one except hopefully it’s a lot less.
Be responsible, don’t blast the heat because you will get blasted back with a whopping bill, and always set aside enough money to cover your monthly wages. You don’t want to be the person that’s always owing money.
Who am I kidding? There’s going to be times when you disagree with your roommate. Disagree may not be a strong enough word. There will be times when you want to lock yourself in your room, shut off the lights, and pretend like you are inside your own backwards insane asylum, except here, the crazy people stay out.
But at the end of the day, your roommates are still your roommates and as much as you may want to scream in their faces, they are still the closest people to you, if we’re speaking in technicalities.
Whether you are old friends living together for the first time, or complete strangers whose only common ground is your need for somebody to split rent with, the health of your relationship and living situation relies squarely on you.
Happily enjoy your roommates positives and attempt to see their negatives from a non-judgmental, optimistic point of view, because most likely they are doing the same with you.
Make sure to follow @TUCommuters, @TowsonSAM, and @DrJazzyJoyce on Twitter and always be on the look out for more events from Off-Campus Student Services.