Living with roommates is a rite of passage for many first apartment dwellers and a great way to make moving out on your own more affordable. Often, you get together with friends, find a place, and all move in together, but what do you do when you find the perfect place that already has roommates living there?! This happens frequently with friends who may invest in a two or three bedroom apartment. Take this example: Nikki, Amy, and Stephanie are all living together in a three-bedroom apartment when Stephanie gets an amazing job offer in a different city. She takes the offer and moves out. Fortunately, Nikki and Amy have another mutual friend, Carrie, who can move in to fill Stephanie’s slot! This is a great scenario, because it keeps the balance of costs even across three people, and the original roommates don’t get stuck paying rent for an extra room. But, Carrie is coming into an apartment with established relationship and routines. How can she best fit in and not get excluded?
Understand existing norms
When moving in with new roommates who have been living together, it’s crucial to understand their norms and schedules quickly. Sit down with them to learn some key information on things like…
- Cleaning schedules and responsibility – Who does what, and when? What’s normally expected of each roommate?
- How and when to pay rent and shared bills – How are bills split? And how is each bill paid?
- “Quiet hours” or their normal weekly schedules – When do they generally go to bed and wake up? Are they chatty in the mornings, or prefer to be left alone before coffee?
- Feelings on bringing guests over – When are guests welcome? How do they let the other roommates know when they’ll have a guest?
Lots of these are new roommate basics, but be sure to cover the topics with both roommates to understand how they’ve been functioning and fit into that structure as much as you’re comfortable. If they’ve set up a great cleaning schedule, consider filling the spot of the roommate that left, or suggesting an easier way to get it all done. Try to be respectful of their habits, especially just after moving in!
Contribute as much as you can
Don’t be a bump on a log in your new place! Come in ready to be a great roommate, especially if you’re moving in with friends. Go a little above and beyond at first, with small things like taking out the trash when it’s not your turn or bringing home a favorite snack to split as a group. Small gestures will let your new roommates know that you’re friendly and excited to be living together.
Whether your new roommates are old friends, acquaintances, or brand new friends, be outgoing! Include them on plans you have with other friends, try to schedule roommate dinners or roomie nights in, or simply make the effort to plop on the sofa and catch up from time to time. Being outgoing, without being too eager, can help make you feel right at home in your new place.
As always, remember to relax and enjoy your new apartment! Make the best of moving in with your new roommates and bring a positive attitude that they’ll want to include.