Inviting a new roommate to live with you, whether at a university or otherwise, can be quite daunting if you don’t know them beforehand. You need to figure out a way to become comfortable with each other quickly – after all, you’ll be sleeping just yards away from someone you just met. It really is an odd scenario but often essential if you need to fill a room quickly or risk paying more rent. You don’t have to become the best of friends but life is always easier if you get on with the people you live with.
So, how can you break the ice with a new roommate and get off to a good start? Here are a few things you can do on the first few nights living with someone new:
This is very much a choice for the first night when the new person has moved in. They probably won’t want to cook if they’ve been busy unpacking, and you won’t know what to make them if you don’t know their tastes/allergies. Pizza is generally a safe choice, with everyone able to pick what they like for toppings. You can springboard onto a conversation about food quite easily from here. It’s a very sociable food, too; the act of each person taking a slice from a shared pie. Plus, it can be as fancy and greasy as you wish. We all have our opinions of “the best pizza in the world”, so exchange stories, perhaps including places you’ve traveled.
2. Decorating Help
If the new person’s room needs decorating, volunteer to pitch in as a nice sentiment. It can be fun, and a chance to mess around with some paint (as long as you’re careful and remember that they have to sleep there afterwards). Exchanging ideas about stylistic choices and ways to do things reveals a lot about a person, as well as about the dynamics of your new relationship. You can get creative and feel like you’ve accomplished something together as a group or duo - key to establishing history quickly with someone.
3. Films, TV and Books
Everyone has their particular taste. You might find out quickly you have a lot in common. Even if you both have just one programme you’re a big fans of, it can be the starting block to building a relationship: talking and theorizing about the show can lead to arranging a set time to watch it together or re-watching it on DVD. Ask questions about things you don’t know or understand; it takes the pressure off you having to talk a lot, and your new roommate can feel more comfortable talking about something they enjoy or are passionate about.
4. Ask About Work
Many people move in with new roommates because of a change in working circumstances. Ask about their new job and what they do; it can stimulate conversation quite well, whether you understand what they do or not. Showing some vulnerability if you’re starting afresh can offer an opportunity for the other person to give advice and act as if they were already a friend. Starting a new job provides opportunities for lots of different conversation topics in the evening those first few days. Is there someone you fancy in the office? How’s your new boss? Is the commute OK? These types of questions can lead to an exchange of past experiences and start building a friendship.
5. Share a Welcome Drink
Going clubbing might not be to everyone’s tastes, but having a casual drink at home can be a nice gesture and get conversation to flow. It can be a celebratory act, sort of a housewarming. You don’t have to get drunk but a beer or a glass of wine can settle nerves. If you decide to go to a nearby pub or bar, you might be able to take in some form of entertainment, which will remove the pressure to talk continuously back-and-forth. There is a bit of a risk with this option, as drinking can bring out the worst in people, making them overly aggressive or overly flirtatious. On the other hand, some great friendships and lots of inside jokes have been born from an initial pub experience.
Today’s guest blogger Paul is from London. He’s had a lot of experience of moving in with strangers during his time as a student at the University of Sussex. He remains friends with many ex-roommates to this day, despite not having much in common to begin with. He is currently working alongside a property portal that specialises in property for sale and rent in London.