As twenty-somethings, we all hope to leave the nest eventually. Whether we attend college or start a career, we have choices to make about who lives with us or who we should absolutely not share a roof with. Unless we prefer, or can afford to live alone, we must decide whether or not to shack up with a friend or significant other. And location definitely affects our ability to find friends in the same city, suburb, or town. In college and the real world, there’s always the random roommate option, which can be tricky as we see exaggerated in the 2011 thriller film, “The Roommate,” where Rebecca, the crazy roommate, stalks Sara, the protagonist, and inflicts pain on anyone who stands in the way of their relationship. We can only hope Hollywood is pulling our leg with this roommate horror story.

A random roommate may not be this crazy, and at times, easier to live with than a friend. Because of the possible emotional relationship with a friend, there may be more honesty and consequently, more arguments. Just because we live in the same city or attend the same school as a friend, we should remember as twenty-somethings that two friends may share similar beliefs and activities but not living habits: one friend might like the thermostat at 60 degrees while the other prefers 75. When living with a companion, it’s necessary to think about these questions as well:

  • Do you tolerate mess in the kitchen or bedroom? Do they?
  • How much time do you spend in your place? How much time will they spend?
  • How much noise is too much? Are parties okay?
  • Do you like to share food/clothes? Do they?
  • Will you share a bedroom? What sleeping habits do you have? Do they snore?
  • When is rent due? When are utilities due? Who pays for internet/cable?
  • Who will buy furnishings and appliances?
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The roommate questions can be endless but important in accessing living arrangements. Keep in mind that distance can help some friendships. Even little fiascos like smelly food or hair in the drain can frustrate a close companion.

While duct-taping personal space may be stretching boundaries too far, twenty-somethings should look into a roommate contract when moving in with a pal. These kinds of contracts can hold two people accountable and if someone breaks the rules, there could even be a reasonable punishment such as cleaning the apartment or cooking dinner for the other for forgetting to wash the dishes.

An example of this kind of contract exists between Sheldon and Leonard in The Big Bang Theory, although their contract more specific and nerdier than most. They have a “Skynet Clause” where Leonard must help Sheldon destroy an artificial intelligence that Sheldon makes to take over earth and a “Body Snatchers Clause” where Leonard must help Sheldon destroy someone who they know that been taken over by an alien pod.

To read more about adjusting to roommates as twenty-somethings and deciding what to share, how to respond to friends’ emotions and living with strangers, read GenTwenty’s other articles: “Big Life Changes: Growing Up and Moving Out” and “Shacking Up With Strangers: Roommates After College.”

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