Neatnik vs. Slob – How to Live With A Roommate Who is Less Tidy Than You

african american man cleaning up bathtubLiving with a roommate can be beneficial in many ways including: splitting rent and household bills, having someone nearby in case of an emergency, and having someone to hang out with. One habit that can become problematic is living with a roommate who is less tidy than you, especially when it comes to sharing and cleaning common areas such as the kitchen and living room. There are ways, however, to make living with someone who isn’t as organized or tidy as you easier and less stressful.

1. Be Honest With One Another

Before you sign a lease and move in with a roommate, talk with one another about your lifestyle, tidiness, habits, and schedules. The most important part of this conversation is this: you both must be completely honest. Living with someone who isn’t as tidy as you may not seem like a big deal, but small yet annoying habits will add up over time and can potentially become a big deal, so you need to know what you’re getting into before you actually move in with one another.

2. Make Some Rules

Dusting at altitudesSince both you and your roommate will use the kitchen and living room, you need some rules as to what and how often things need to be cleaned. Discuss things like washing dirty dishes, how often the floor needs to be swept or vacuumed, and how often the refrigerator needs to be cleaned.

3. Set a Schedule

Once you and your roommate figure out what needs to be cleaned, figure out a system of what will be cleaned when and by whom. Maybe you would like to clean the apartment together and split the duties, or maybe you would prefer to swap weeks where you clean the first and third weekend of the month and your roommate cleans the second and fourth. Whatever system you choose, make sure you choose one to which you both agree.

4. Compromise

You and your roommate won’t agree on everything, so there are areas where you will have to compromise to make your living situation functional. You might not love some of the ideas your roommate has, but he/she probably won’t love all of your ideas either. Talk about what works best for both of you, even if you both have to compromise on how you feel.

5. Don’t Be Controlling

Worry about your own room, not the mess on your roommate’s floor. You can control how tidy your room is, but you can’t (nor should you) control how tidy your roommate’s room is, unless it is so bad that it attracts vermin to your apartment. As long as your roommate puts forth effort and helps clean common areas, don’t worry about his/her own space.

6. Be Realistic

Just because you like the kitchen counters to be scrubbed after every meal, don’t get mad if your roommate forgets sometimes. If you set expectations too high, you only leave room for failure and unpleasant arguments when your roommate fails to meet your expectations. Set realistic goals and try to remember that you and your roommate have different concept of what level of cleanliness is acceptable.

7. Know That Friendship is More Important Than Clean Dishes

Messy Dirty KitchenMost importantly, try not to stress and fret too much over unimportant things. Yes, it’s very important to clean your apartment, wash your dirty dishes, and make sure there aren’t piles of dirty laundry everywhere, but the friendship you have with your roommate is more important than a few crumbs on the coffee table or a dirty bowl in the sink.

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Kalee Cowan is a graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Rural Studies: Writing and Communication. She is a writer, a baker, and a customer service representative for an insurance agency in her South Georgia hometown. When she is not working, she is attending concerts, reading an always growing list of books, and spending time with her family. You can find her on Instagram and Pinterest.

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