These simple tips will keep you on good terms with your housemates — and your bed free of greasy, passive-aggressively placed dirty dishes.
With the cost of a one-bedroom apartment soaring in Toronto — nearly $1,300 a month is the average going rate — having a place of your own in this city is getting harder to justify. For many, sharing a pad with a roommate (or roommates) is the only way to get by.
Jean-Paul Sartre wrote “Hell is other people.” But true hell is other people who have been drinking for nine hours having a rousing discussion on the minutiae of The Bachelorette outside your bedroom door when you have an exam the next day.
I’ve had a dozen roommates or so over the years and have remained on excellent terms with (most of) them. I’ve been a good roommate. I’ve also been a terrible roommate. I now understand the difference. Read on if you want to stay in the running for Roommate of the Year:
1. Respect common areas
The kitchen, washroom and living room are sacred. They should not be used as personal storage unit, nap or make-out area, dance studio, walk-in shoe closet or experimental biohazard lab. Unless otherwise negotiated, these rooms are meant for cooking/eating, washroom things and reading/chatting/group Netflix binges. That is it. That is all.
2. Turn a blind eye at personal spaces
Unless your roommate has converted their bedroom into a Breaking Bad-style meth lab, try not to fuss. It’s theirs to use as they see fit (not everyone has the time to iron their socks or alphabetize their vinyl).
3. Do not leave passive-aggressive Post-it notes around the apartment
No good will ever come of this.
4. Cleaning: a necessary evil
Nobody ever wants to clean, so you and your roommate/s should have an agreed-upon chore system in place. If people are low on time and have a bit of budgetary wiggle room, investing in a cleaning service will help keep the peace (and rid the place of any critters snacking on the crumbs of your abandoned Amato pizza boxes).
5. Hi! Do you smell?
Are you sure? Do you ask neutral parties to sniff you from time to time? Sometimes people don’t realize they smell. In fact, it is often the smelliest who are completely oblivious. Shower regularly. Also, please note: most natural deodorants do not work for more than three summertime hours at a time.
6. Bring your roommates delicious treats when they’re sick or sad
This always goes over really well. Was your roommate recently dumped? Bake them a chocolate cake. Roommate with the stomach flu? Fetch them ginger ale and soup (just try not to breathe their air). Did they not get the dream job they’d interviewed for five times? A shopping spree at Cheese Magic is the answer! Trying to cheer people up with food is a nurturing European grandmother move that is always appreciated — especially if your roommate doesn’t have family nearby.
7. Leave the house sometimes
Maybe even for an entire weekend. Your roommate/s will really appreciate your not being there every single second of every single day. Let them have their Tom Cruise in Risky Business moment.
8. Do your dishes!
A cautionary tale about not doing the dishes floated around urban legend-style during my university years. When someone was constantly shirking dishwashing duty, leaving theirs in the sink and piled on countertops. Eventually, the roommates got fed up and put every single greasy pot, pan and mug into their roommate’s bed, tucking the whole mess in. The measures were admittedly a little extreme, but the roommate got the message.
In conclusion: no excuses! You are an adult! Do your dishes!
9. Keep a tally for shared household items
Basic math: If one person is buying all the toilet paper ($7.99), light bulbs ($3.29), paper towels ($4.99), dish soap ($2.99), hand soap ($4.49), sponges ($3.49), garbage bags ($5.99), laundry detergent ($10.99), etc. for the entire household every month ($44.22), that is one person who is going to be resentful times A MILLION.
10. Your boyfriend/girlfriend is not an honorary roommate
If someone doesn’t contribute to rent and utilities, they do not get to live there. Set limits with your significant other about how frequently they can stay over. Hint: more than two or three nights a week is pushing it. That shower lineup in the mornings isn’t getting any shorter. Unless … (see No. 5).