How To Survive A Bad Roommate


As you dive headfirst into the thrilling world of university life, your roommate becomes a pivotal character in your personal narrative. Sharing your living space with a roommate offers the promise of new friendships and lasting memories, but it also poses its challenges. Dealing with a difficult or unpleasant roommate may seem daunting, but with some key strategies, you can transform an uncomfortable living situation into a harmonious one. In this article, we’ll delve into common issues that often come up when sharing your living space and provide you with practical tips on how to tackle them.

Identifying Common Roommate Issues

  • Conflict Over Cleanliness: A tale as old as time – one roommate’s cleanliness standards may not align with the other’s. While you might be a neat freak, your roommate could be more relaxed about cleanliness, leading to frequent disputes over shared spaces.
  • Noise and Privacy: Another common issue arises from differing needs for quiet and personal space. Your roommate’s late-night music sessions may keep you up, or they might infringe on your privacy by entering your room unannounced. These differences in lifestyle and schedules can trigger disagreements regarding noise levels and the need for personal space and privacy.
  • Differing Personalities: Sometimes, it’s merely a clash of personalities that fuels roommate issues. Distinct lifestyles, habits, and communication styles can create friction. Whether you’re an early riser while they’re a night owl or you thrive in socializing while they prefer solitude, finding common ground can be the challenge.

Steps To Deal With A Bad Roommate

  • Establish Rules and Boundaries: To pave the way for a harmonious living situation, initiate a candid discussion with your roommate to create a set of rules and boundaries upfront. It’s highly advisable to document these guidelines and prominently display them in a shared area for easy reference. Ensure that your discussion covers essential aspects, including:
    • Quiet times
    • Guest policies
    • Personal space and privacy
    • Each roommate’s rent and security deposit responsibilities
    • How you’ll divide and pay bills such as utilities
    • Cleanliness standards and a cleaning schedule
    • What happens if someone moves out early
  • Address Problems Early and Assertively: Address issues as they arise to prevent them from snowballing into major conflicts. Maintain open, respectful, and timely communication to ensure a healthy living environment. Keep in mind that kind communication makes disagreements more manageable.
  • Provide Specific Examples: When discussing problems with your roommate, use concrete examples to convey your concerns. Instead of vague complaints like, “You’re always so messy,” provide specific instances such as, “I noticed your dirty dishes in the sink for the past three days, making it hard for me to cook or clean.”
  • Suggest Effective Solutions: For issues that persist, propose practical solutions. If your roommate’s belongings clutter shared areas, suggest they keep items in their room. If you’re tired of the constant mess, propose a cleaning schedule. Offering alternatives and compromises is a fantastic way to foster cooperation.
  • Regular check-ins: Sometimes, there’s an explanation for your roommate’s actions that you might not be aware of. They could be dealing with stress, personal problems, or challenges that take precedence over dirty dishes or rent payments. It’s a good idea to ask how you can assist them. Maybe they just need a few reminders or a lending hand.
  • Find a Place to Escape: Living with someone means you’re in close quarters for most of the time. That’s cozy, but it can also lead to getting on each other’s nerves. So, find a place to escape, even if temporarily. Spend time with other friends or loved ones, prioritize your hobbies, and create space for quality solitude. This isn’t about replacing your home; it’s about maintaining your sanity.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Remember, your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend. One common mistake is expecting your roommate to be your lifelong confidant. This mentality can set you up for roommate failure. Putting too much pressure on being best friends can make normal roommate disagreements more dramatic than they need to be. Keep your expectations in check, and don’t put too much pressure on being best friends. It’s okay to have separate lives and different social circles.
  • Know Your Rights: In rare and extreme cases where your roommate’s behavior is causing significant harm or violating the law, it may be necessary to explore legal options such as breaking your lease or requesting a room change. Familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and consult with your landlord if your roommate’s actions are endangering the property or your safety.


Surviving a challenging roommate is a vital part of the college experience. While it may present its fair share of hurdles, it’s also an opportunity for personal growth. By addressing issues proactively, establishing clear rules, and seeking compromises, you can enhance your living situation and well-being. Don’t hesitate to seek help from housing authorities or consider alternative living arrangements if necessary. The ultimate aim is to create a harmonious living environment that empowers you to thrive during your university years, turning these challenges into valuable life lessons.

Copyright Ⓒ Juvenis Maxime 2023

Author: Haven Nguyen