by Aparajita Bhandari

people watching TV on sofa

If you’re moving away from home for university, chances are that you are going to be living with other people, whether it’s a randomly assigned roommate in residence or with friends you’ve known for years in a place off campus. Cohabitation can be a difficult thing to master and each living situation will have its own challenges to overcome. In your four years of shared living you’re sure to meet a whole host of unusual people; however, most of you will encounter at least a few of these classic characters.

1. The Neat Freak

Mr CleanThey always wash their dishes right after using them, they never spill anything on the floor, and they even seem to dust regularly. At first, you thought it was nice that someone was keeping the place clean and orderly. But after that one time you accidentally left the dishes in the sink for too long and got a long lecture about it, you swiftly changed that opinion.

What to do: If you also are a super-clean person then you will probably get along amazingly with the Neat Freak. However, for us mere mortals who don’t always have the time to thoroughly wipe down the tub after every shower, the potential for conflict is high. Try to respect their boundaries and contain your mess to your own space, such as in your own room or on your own side. When it comes to shared spaces try your best to keep them clean.

2. The Ghost

cartoon ghostYou still aren’t fully sure whether this person actually still lives with you. Other than the occasional footsteps and slight movement in the position of their toothbrush you haven’t seen a sign of them since you first moved in. This person could have a really busy course schedule, a full-time job, a full-time significant other or they might just go home a lot. Whatever their situation you’ll probably never know because you probably will never see them for long enough to ask.

What to do: Be thankful! As long as this person shows up when it’s time to pay rent, you have essentially hit the housemate jackpot. You don’t have to deal with loud noise from their room, fights over the bathroom in the morning or the possibility of your food being stolen, yet you still get the financial benefits of communal living.

3. The Passive-Aggressive Note Writer

passive-aggressive note

While leaving a little memo can be an effective of communicating something important to your housemate at times when your schedules don’t coincide, the problem with this roommate is that they use these notes to vent their frustrations instead of communicating directly like an adult.

What to do: These notes may seem annoying and controlling to you, but your roommate might just be trying to solve problems without a large confrontation. Try talking about it with them, and maybe try to outline clearer rules and boundaries. If they continue to act passive-aggressively just try to comply with their notes when it’s reasonable, but don’t let them control you.

4. The Messy One

a messy room

Stacks of dirty laundry on every surface, crumbs on every inch of the floor, empty food packages piled high. This roommate has all of this mess and more Mr Messyeverywhere. They leave dishes in the sink, a layer of stickiness all over the counters after making food, and hair clogging the shower. They claim they’ll clean after they’re finished with midterms/have a lighter work schedule/come back from visiting their parents; however, the day for them to learn basic cleanliness will never come.

What to do: Although everyone gets busy sometimes and cleaning slips from the priority list, there is a minimum level of hygiene that needs to be maintained. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself here and just let them know what the expectations for shared spaces are.

5. The Borrower

apple core in otherwise empty fridge

The borrower likes to “borrow” (aka “take”) things, either with or without asking. Sometimes they might be genuinely laid-back and generous, with a “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” philosophy, or they might just be entitled individuals with no respect for boundaries. Whatever the case, there’s nothing more annoying than realizing that all of your conditioner has mysteriously disappeared or that there’s no milk left when you go to have a bowl of cereal.

What to do: Be very clear from the beginning about what is shared and what is only yours, and don’t hesitate to label your items in the fridge or bathroom. If you ever feel that they’re overstepping, call them out on it respectfully but also firmly. Remember to deal with this problem like an adult without resorting to passive-aggressive notes on your cereal box…

6. The Social Butterfly

Facebook screen

This person loves to socialize and talk to new people and as a result has many friends. There always seems to be someone you’ve never met before at your place when you come home from class. This can be a great opportunity for you to meet new people and make some more friends. On the other hand, having people around constantly quickly gets annoying, especially when you need to get work done.

What to do: If you have separate rooms in your living situation ask your housemate to hang out with their friends in their own room rather than in the living room or kitchen. If you’re sharing a room, suggest that your roommate hangs out with their friends on campus or around the city sometimes and not always in your room.


And the upshot is…

Remember that with good communication and clear boundaries any living situation can be a great experience and every housemate/roommate has the potential to become a lifelong friend.

The cast of Friends TV show

Which type of house/roommate have you lived with before? And what type are you? Comment below!