Housemate Guide

A Guide for Successful Housemate Relationships

The key to a good relationship is communication. This is apparent when living off-campus. Whether this is the first time living off-campus or the first time with new housemates, it is always important to set clear expectations right from the start. Here are a few suggestions:

Sharing Items

  • Do you mind lending items to housemates, such as clothes, books, money, class notes, and food?
  • What items are all right to share -TV? Microwave? Computer?

Cleaning Up

  • How important is a clean house to you? Is this different from the ideas of your housemates?
  • How will responsibilities be assigned? For example, who will clean the bathroom? Vacuum the living room? Take out the trash?
  • Who will buy cleaning supplies?


  • When do you like to go to sleep?
  • Are you a morning or night person?
  • How do the previous two questions differ from your housemates?


  • How will housemates deal with problems stemming from a guest or guests?
  • How will the housemates address the issue of overnight guests of the opposite sex? Same sex?
  • How do you feel about gatherings?

Study Habits

  • When do you like to study?
  • Are you able to study with noise? How much noise? What about your housemates?


  • How often do you consume alcohol?
  • How often do your housemates consume alcohol?
  • How does your response differ from your housemate?

Emotional Style

  • How do you act when you are upset?
  • Do you tend to say things you are thinking, or do you keep it all inside?
  • Are you an introvert or extravert?
  • Are there times you prefer to be alone?
  • How do you know if people are mad?
  • What annoys you?
  • What are you like when you are under pressure?
  • What are some specific things that bother you?


  • Will housemates buy goods together? For example, food, dishes, bathroom items, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • If a housemate leaves, how will goods and costs be split up?

Rules for a Good Discussion

Problems do arise between housemates. Here are some tips to help you confront problems and deal with issues in your house.

  • Focus on the behavior-not your housemate.
  • "Own" your feelings-you choose to feel and act a certain way.
  • Listen to all perspectives. Let your housemates speak without interruption, and actively listen to their requests.
  • Make sure you understand everything that is being said; assume nothing.
  • Remember that this is not a win/lose situation. The goal is to find some kind of compromise for all to live with. Be as objective and rational as possible.
  • If emotions are running high, take a break and resume discussion later.
  • Try to get at the heart of the problem right away. Don't waste time on details of little concern.
  • Try to remain calm.

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