Discover Studying Abroad

#SmartStudent: How to be a good roommate

Our new #SmartStudent series brings you simple tips that help you ease into life as an international student and be a responsible resident of the country you have chosen to study in
BY Cherryy Chauhan |   02-06-2017
A black man, a brown woman, a white woman and a white man standing shoulder to shoulder and smiling or winking
(Image by Robert Judge. Used under CC license)

Moving out of your parents’ home can be quite overwhelming, especially when you throw a couple of oceans and a few countries into the mix. Whether you move into a campus dorm or an off-campus apartment, these 5 simple tips will help make your life easier and steer clear of trouble.

  1. Understand your responsibilities as a tenant
    One of the first things you will sign as an international student is a lease agreement. Ensure you read it carefully and understand all your obligations before signing. Some responsibilities may be individual, and others are shared by all flatmates (meaning that if one defaults, others will also have to pay). Your lease is a binding agreement, and in some cases it may not be transferrable, meaning that you may be committed to paying rent for the entire lease period, even if you move out sooner. This is why you should avoid signing a lease without checking the apartment first.
  2. Pay bills on time
    Don’t be that roommate from hell who always owes others money for rent, utilities, and household bills. And certainly don’t get into your landlord’s bad books by delaying payments. Pro tip:  maintain an emergency savings account so you can tackle any unexpected costs that might come your way.
  3. Sharing is caring
    Living with a roommate comes with its perks and flaws. While the rent goes down, the responsibilities of being a roommate do add up. Sharing fosters a sense of trust and belonging between you and your roommates. So decide up front with them how you will all share bills, chores and even food. The video below recommends some great ways to keep track of bills and chores, and to set up reminders for yourself and your housemates.

  4. Mind your bathroom manners
    Cultural differences can be a minefield in this part of the house. You and your roommates should agree on and budget for an explicit standard of cleanliness and tidiness if you’re sharing a bathroom. There are plenty of bathroom-related chores and expenses – replacing toilet paper rolls, buying cleaning supplies, buying bath accessories such as a shower curtain or floor mats, sharing shelf space, keeping the tub clean, and so on.
  5. Partying
    You may not think that mere socializing could get you into trouble, but the fact is that differing ideas about of fun can make life hell for all roommates. If your style is small gatherings with some background music, do you really want to share an apartment with someone who’s into deathcore? And how will any of this go down with the neighbors? What if you want to have friends over and your roommate has an exam in two days? You and your roommates should set some ground rules about parties and sleepovers before an awkward situation arises.

    Don't worry, it's not like you'll be perpetually walking on eggshells: sharing a home with students from other countries broadens your horizons, and adds a whole new dimension to the experience of studying abroad. Some of your roommates will become your friends for life. A multicultural living situation is an opportunity, and if you let it slip away, you will be the poorer for it!
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