How to Share a Kitchen Without Hating Your Roommate

(Click to read part one)

3. Preparing food
With proper communication and organization, the first two items should be easy enough. But these next two are more tricky because they get into even deeper personality quirks, plus the issue of two (or more) people potentially using the same cramped space at the same time.

If it’s a tiny kitchen, you may want to establish a rule: only one person cooks at a time. First come,first served, but don’t hog the space. And if you do want to undertake a huge cooking project, give your roommate the heads-up before you embark on your culinary marathon, and let him or her interrupt you for a few minutes–your multi-course feast shouldn’t deprive someone else of the chance to make lunch.

4. Clean-up
Dish washingHere’s how it should work: If it’s your mess, you clean it up in a timely manner. That should be easy enough, right?

Ah, but it never quite works out like that, does it? People have differing definitions of when the dishes should be done, and what “clean” really means.

The thing to remember is that, within reason (I’ll repeat that: within reason), you should defer to the person with the higher standard. Cleaner is better–and mold and ants are not acceptable apartment decor. At the same time, you shouldn’t be expected to, say, clean the toaster inside and out every single morning.

An easy way to track things is with a chore checklist. (And don’t just present this to your roommate passive-aggressively, but develop it together.) Make a list of things that you both agree should be done every night before you go to bed–dishes clean and on the drying rack, food put away, and so on. It might seem unnecessary, even kind of condescending, but when it’s late and you just want to go to bed, it’s nice to have that reminder of the not-really-that-hard series of tasks you need to do first, and which you really don’t want to have to do in the morning.

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Doug Mack is a writer based in Minneapolis and the author of the travel memoir Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide (Perigee Books/Penguin). He has lived in apartments large and small, historic and modern, in Minneapolis and Chicago. Visit his web site at www.douglasmack.net or find him on Twitter @douglasmack.

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