The move from on-campus student housing to an off-campus apartment can feel like a big change to your college lifestyle, but that change certainly includes a lot of positives. For one, you can get a lot more choice—between college roommates, community amenities, location, and more.
But of course, shared living comes with its challenges. Here are our top 8 tips for creating a great experience for yourself and all your roommates.
1. Establish Basic House Rules
The first step to sharing space with anyone is communicating openly about what everyone needs to feel comfortable at home. Don’t assume everyone feels the same way you do. Sit down for a conversation with all the roommates together and discuss your house rules. You can even write them out and stick them to the fridge so they’re always visible.
Consider everything from personal spaces to guest protocol. Do you want advance notice before groups come over? Do you have a preferred laundry day? Do people need to knock before they come into your room? Lay it all out and come up with solutions together.
2. Practice Respect
Respect is “regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others,” and it’s a solid foundation for every relationship. So respect each other and respect privacy—whether it’s time, food, shampoo, budget, belongings, decorations, pets, space. Don’t go into each other’s rooms without communicating first and definitely don’t eat someone else’s food. If you do use something or break something, try to replace it right away. This is also a great topic to discuss during your house rules convo!
Whether you start a group text, get a house white board, or both, practice communicating about everything: work and class schedules, submitting maintenance requests, overnight guests, upcoming bills, and more. The more you communicate, the less chance there is of a misunderstanding, missed bill, or roommate conflict.
4. Talk About Groceries & Budgets
Moving into your own off-campus apartment often means you’ll be cooking more meals for yourself instead of eating at the dining hall. To save money, consider bulk purchases and bill splitting with your roommates. Is there a food you all like that you can buy in bulk and share? Paper towels, toilet paper, and other household items are easy to get in bulk and often result in significantly better deals. Discuss your budgets and work out a plan together.
5. Discuss Cleaning Responsibilities
We all have different standards when it comes to house cleanliness, and this is another thing you should communicate with your roommates. That way, you can work out house responsibilities, standards, and needs—and get everyone on the same page.
As you go through your day-to-day life, remember to respect shared spaces, think about the other people you live with, and communicate if something comes up that you can’t clean right away.
6. Optimize Your Space
Shared living doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be short on space, but better organization does help ensure none of your stuff gets in the way of anyone else. From pantry and fridge organization to shoe and coat closet storage solutions, these efficiencies will improve your ability to respect your roommate’s space and belongings. Check out Organizational Tips for Efficient Apartment Living for some of our best tips.
7. Focus on Roommate Bonding
No matter where you’re living with other people, never neglect your roommate bonding. Find TV shows you can watch together, share meals every once in a while, or walk your dog as a group.
Off-campus student housing communities typically host their own events, and many offer spaces to get out of your apartment with your roommates, friends, and neighbors. Apartments with study areas, pools, and resident clubhouses practically have built-in bonding opportunities.
8. Be Flexible
Alongside every tip on this list, be sure you’re practicing flexibility. Be understanding when something unexpected happens, and practice your patience and communication every day. Remember this is yours and your roommates’ home—a space where everyone wants to be their most comfortable.
Looking for more?
As one of the best student apartments in Knoxville, we know our way around a good living experience. If you’re still in the decision making process, read up on How to Choose Between On or Off-campus Living and The Top 5 Benefits of Furnished Apartments. And if you want to get a sneak peak at what your college lifestyle can be in an off-campus apartment, check out our gallery.