When you need to keep your rent low, living with roommates can be the way to go. As anyone who’s had roommates knows, the budget-friendliness of roommate arrangements doesn’t necessarily equate to a comfortable living situation – common spaces such as living rooms and kitchens can quickly become messier or dirtier than you’d like, you might find yourself doing more than your roommates when it comes to household chores, or you might struggle to find the privacy so important in your home. Though the latter of these issues may be the most concerning, you might be able to counter it with these four ways to maintain your privacy with roommates.
1. Set boundaries
Many people are tactful enough that they can easily read social cues and respect any privacy boundaries you implicitly set. Excessive knocking on the bathroom door won’t speed up your morning routine, a closed bedroom door means to knock before entering, and a closed bedroom door when you have a partner over makes it pretty clear not to knock at all.
However, if you find that your roommate hasn’t been respecting these basic privacy rules, explicitly set boundaries and rules. This can involve establishing guidelines for when you need to take a shower or otherwise use the bathroom for extended periods, how present you’re comfortable with your roommate being when you have dates or partners over, and what it means when you’re in your bedroom with the door open versus closed. You can also discuss your work schedules to determine when you might have the apartment to yourself, a time of maximum privacy.
2. Learn to say no
Sometimes, your roommate isn’t just a stranger – they might be a close friend. With this friend in your home, you might feel pressured to hang out with them all the time, whether this pressure only exists in your head or your roommate is actually asking you to hang out constantly. Learning to say no in this situation is crucial for maintaining your privacy – if you need to be alone in your room for any reason, but your roommate is desperate to spend time with you, then learning to kindly decline will go a long way toward ensuring not just your privacy, but your happiness. Remind your roommate that you can always hang out another time – after all, you two do live together.
3. Establish guest policies
There are few joys like having friends visit your apartment, but what if your roommate is having loud guests over too frequently? Drowning out the sound with headphones is just a temporary salve – a more permanent solution might be establishing guest policies with your roommate. If they’re having more than a certain number of people over, expecting to use common spaces, or hosting guests at a time when you’d normally be asleep, they’ll need to get your permission first. You should feel free to decline guest requests, because your roommate can likely go to the guest’s apartment or a nearby bar instead.
4. Discuss borrowing
In roommate arrangements, certain objects that you own will inevitably wind up in common spaces. It’s generally safe to borrow these items, but what if your roommate needs to borrow something you keep in your room? If you’re not comfortable with your roommate going into your room without permission, say so and firmly stand your ground. If you’re okay with your roommate asking permission to borrow something and then going into your room to get it, let them know. And if you’re only okay with this when you’re home, say so too – even if you lean toward kindness and generosity, allowing your roommate guideline-free access to your room can be a slippery slope toward losing your privacy.
How do you maintain your privacy with your roommates? Sound off in the comments!