College Roommate Tips
By Naomi Fink
Moving into a dorm room or an apartment with someone else can be an exciting step in your journey toward independence. It’s also a great opportunity to decorate your room the way you’ve always wanted to. There’s just one catch: if you have a roommate, then your room isn’t only your room; it belongs to both you and your roommate. This means that the way you decorate your room isn’t entirely up to you. While getting in touch with your roommate to talk about color schemes and room themes may be a good place to start, coordinating the finer aesthetic details of your room together may not be the best idea. In fact, here are five reasons why you shouldn’t coordinate decor with your roommate.
1. You may not agree on what looks best
You and your roommate might have the same taste in music and movies but coordinating decor means the two of you need to agree on what looks best...and that might not happen. You might like green while your roommate prefers orange. You might like things to have a clean, contemporary look while your roommate is more into the old-fashioned, woodsy look. Either way, if you’re planning on coordinating decor with your roommate, then both of you need to be okay with each other’s sense of style and agree on each other’s purchases for the room.
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2. The room may not end up feeling very “you”
Even if you and your roommate approve of each other’s styles, the way the room turns out may end up feeling like a compromise. By extension, this may feel somewhat inauthentic. If you’re purchasing new items for your room, you want them to be representative of you! The way you decorate your room can be an expression of your personality, likes, and dislikes. Unless you and your roommate are truly on the same page about everything, it may be worth it to split the room in half and allow each of you to decorate your side as you see fit. Another realistic thing to consider is the fact that you and your roommate are probably not going to be roommates forever. You may be okay with compromising on decor for a semester but odds are you aren’t going to want to buy all new decor again next year if you get a new roommate or choose to live alone. Make sure you’re happy with your purchases independent of your roommate so that if/when you go your separate ways, you still have the things you like best and that feel most you.
3. You may have different price ranges
Regardless of what styles you and your roommate might like or which specific items feel authentically you, there’s still the ever-pressing question of what you can afford. If you and your roommate come from different socioeconomic backgrounds or simply have different views about what prices are reasonable and what items are “worth it,” it may be a good idea not to coordinate decor. As college students, many of us feel that cheaper is better, but this isn’t always the case. If your roommate is pushing for something beyond your price range or wants to purchase something of sub-par quality just because the price is right, then it may be a sign that coordinating decor is not the right course of action for the two of you. There are enough roommate issues to figure out and talk through without arguing over the monetary aspect of decor choices.
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4. Coordinating is a hassle
Let’s say you and your roommate have similar price ranges and tastes in decor. It should be easy to coordinate decor then, right? Wrong. Coordinating can still be a hassle, especially if one of you is more of a planner than the other. For example, your roommate may see something in the store that they think would look great in your room and buy it on impulse. Meanwhile, you may have spent half an hour researching top brands and getting lost in the never-ending rabbit hole of Amazon reviews in an attempt to purchase the same item. The above is more of a communication issue than anything else but it’s still something to consider. Do you really want to check in with your roommate about every purchase you’re thinking about making? Not everyone takes coordination to this extreme, but in general, coordinating with your roommate can end up being more hassle than the aesthetic of your room is worth. Pick out decor that you like and that works with your finances; you’ll have plenty of other things (class schedules, sleep habits, guest policies, etc) to coordinate with your roommate as the semester goes on.
5. What you end up buying might clash
One final reason against coordinating with your roommate is that even if you manage to compromise on decor styles, agree on prices, and go through the logistical hassle of coordinating, the things you purchase may still end up clashing. In fact, the likelihood of this happening is pretty high unless you and your roommate shop for each item together. Colors look a lot different in person than they do online or over FaceTime. Avoid clashing by opting for a general color scheme or room theme instead of trying to coordinate all of your decor with your roommate. Having a roommate and decorating your dorm room or apartment can both be wonderful things, but perhaps the logistics of each should be kept somewhat separate. Communicate with your roommate and make sure to be true to yourself in values, boundaries, and decor!
It’s officially November, which means embracing the chilly fall temperatures, having some pretty photoshoots, and of course, preparing for Thanksgiving! Though it’s only the beginning of the month, many people, like myself, start preparing for the holiday now.
Thanksgiving practically dictates all of the November month, just as Halloween does in October and Christmas does in December. For nearly everyone in the US, Thanksgiving means enjoying time with friends and family, celebrating the numerous blessings of the year, watching football, and of course, enjoying a marvelous feast of delicious food.
This year, the Thanksgiving holiday falls amongst some stressful and unusual times. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are unsure how to go about celebrating the special day with their dear friends and loved ones. Officials across several states have issued different recommendations for those who are planning to gather on the holiday, such as socially isolating for two weeks beforehand, limiting the number of those you are gathering with, and wearing masks when possible, depending on your location.
If you’re cooped up on campus with your roommates during fall break, you can still have a great Thanksgiving, and in fact, you should according to Krystine Batcho, Ph.D. and Professor of Psychology at Le Moyne College. She notes, "It isn’t just fun to interact with other people, it is essential to well-being to maintain healthy social connections. During the period of social isolation imposed by the pandemic, indicators of anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness have increased. By prioritizing relationships, holidays strengthen prosocial emotions and behaviors, including compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and altruism.”
Though it may not be your usual gathering, there are several fun things to do with your roommates to enjoy the holiday and spend time together. Here are just a few ways to kick back with your roommates this Thanksgiving!
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1. Make the Meal Together: So much of what is nice about Thanksgiving is spending time with the people we cherish. Though we are used to seeing our roommates on a daily basis, taking the time to thoroughly enjoy each other’s company makes all the difference. What way to spend time with your roommates than to prepare the Thanksgiving feast together? Every roommate can be assigned a dish to make, like a hearty stuffing, creamy green bean casserole, or delectable macaroni and cheese, while perhaps one or two roommates tackle the turkey (or whichever your household preference is). Collectively making food together is a great bonding experience, and boy is it rewarding when it’s time to sit down and eat.
2. Break Out the Game Collection: In the chaos of everyday life, unfortunately there often isn’t enough time to simply let loose and revert to some of our beloved childhood fun. While the turkey is getting juicy in the oven and the kitchen is cleaned up, break out your game collection to play with the roommates. Get some chill music going, light candles, and try not to be too competitive playing an intense game of Uno or Monopoly with your roommates. Fun like this doesn’t require much and gives you all an opportunity to further bond together!
3. Enjoy the Parades, Virtually: Thanksgiving often is associated with food and family, but we can’t forget about the parades too! The iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, local parades, and of course, the Purina Dog Show are all important events to enjoy on the holiday. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will most likely be a limited amount of people allowed to attend the event in person, so watching the parade from home is not only a safe option but a fun one as well! Everyone can pick their favorite floats, favorite pups, and appreciate one of the country’s greatest traditions.
4. Share What You Are Grateful For: A lot of us get distracted by the food, the fun, and the friends during Thanksgiving, and while all of that matters, what matters the most is remembering what we are grateful for. 2020 has been a rough year for all of us, and while there are plenty of things we wish we would change about the year, there are so many things to be grateful for. Gather all the roommates around, have each person write 3 things they are grateful for, and take turns sharing and reflecting on the good in their lives. Doing so can further uplift us all and set a great mood for the day!
5. Share the Love With Others, The No Contact Way: If you and your roommates are looking for a way to give back this Thanksgiving holiday, consider donating canned goods and non-perishable items to a local food pantry or church! Additionally, if you or your roommates cannot see loved ones due to the pandemic, considering collectively preparing a meal or meals and delivering it to their door for a contactless way of showing love.
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While this Thanksgiving will certainly be unlike any other we have experienced in our lifetime, there are still ways to enjoy the holiday and even establish some new traditions along the way!
Living with roommates can pose several challenges, especially when considering a work from home situation. As many of us face remote work, it’s important to ensure you have a space set up that can accommodate your busy schedule, whether or not you have roommates.
So as we struggle through the difficult times, we can at the very least ensure that our home office set-ups are conducive for productivity, despite living with one or more other people. So, to help you get your home office set up, here are some setups that work when living with roommates.
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1. Bedroom Office
When working from home, it’s typically best to choose a quiet location from which you can get the most work possible done. If at all possible, it’s best to set up a desk in your room that you strictly use for work (whether homework or professionally).
You can get as fancy or minimalist as possible with this setup, the main purpose is to have a distraction-free zone from which you can work without risk of being interrupted by a roommate in passing.
If you set up a bedroom office, just make sure you are minimizing the distractions, so the room shouldn’t have a TV (or at least, you shouldn’t turn it on during the day) and you should dedicate the desk space to your work, specifically so as not to impact your sleep schedule.
2. Shared Office
If you and your roommates all work, you could consider a shared office situation. This can be done in a number of ways. First, you could all use the same office at the same time. This solution works if you are all self-motivated and able to work (undistracted) in an environment where you’re surrounded by others.
Second, you could take turns using the office, depending on your schedules. For instance, if you work on different days of the week, you could switch off using the office. Otherwise, you could share the office to use for important Zoom meetings or other important situations, and use a different shared space when it’s in use.
3. Portable Desk
If you happen to live in a small apartment, don’t have room in your bedroom for an office, or simply prefer to work in comfort from your bed or the couch, you could get a portable desk setup.
Most people simply work from their laptops, so getting a portable desk that fits on your lap can make you slightly more comfortable, and offer a space for you to hold a cup of coffee or pen and notebook, depending on what you need for the day.
4. Balcony/Outdoor Setup
If you’re lucky enough to live in a state with warmer weather, it may be an option to get an outdoor setup for your workspace. While you should account for noise pollution, especially if you have an abundance of video conferences and calls, if you strictly work on documents, spreadsheets, or anything else throughout the day that doesn’t require talking to other people, outdoor setups can be relaxing and make you more productive.
This could be as simple as setting up a table and working from there every once in a while, or bringing your portable desk outside on nice days. Obviously, this isn’t an everyday solution, dependent upon the weather, but when it’s an option, it’s one that you’ll want to take advantage of.
5. The Library
Last, but not least, there is always the ‘ol reliable option: the library. Whether this means the campus library or the local library, you can always bring your items with you and set up there.
Again, if you have a lot of calls or conferences, this may not be the ideal setup. However, if you don’t, then this is a great way to maintain some normalcy, as you can essentially get up and ready as if you’re going through your normal commute, all while going down the street to get some work done in a quiet setting.
And as previously stated, this option doesn’t have to be your everyday plan, but if you have a lot to accomplish throughout the day and are worried about the distractions at home, this is an amazing option.
Working from home, whether in terms of school work, an internship, or a professional occupation, is a challenge, especially when living with roommates. So rather than diminish productivity by working from a setup that prevents you from getting any work done, you can instead create a workspace that helps you to be as productive as possible.
The above setups are perfect for getting your work done, regardless of your living situation. It comes down to this: figure out what makes you the most productive, and ensure that it’s reflected in your office setup. Then, nothing will be able to stop you!
If you are living with roommates, you are more than likely to disagree on a variety of topics — What does “clean” really mean? How often can someone stay the night without it becoming invasive? While it’s not super comfortable to come into disagreement with your roommates, it is to be expected when multiple individuals are constantly in close quarters. However, some topics are a lot more tension-inducing between roommates, take politics for example.
Whether your roommate is a close friend or not, there is always the chance that you and your roommates will have different political views. One roommate may be liberal, but another roommate may be conservative. One may be completely detached from politics while another makes politics an integral part of their lives. Varying political views — whatever they may be — can create plenty of tension between roommates.
With the 2020 election drawing closer and closer, these tensions are likely to arise when you and your roommates have different political views. While you may have brushed the topic under the rug before, it may be more difficult to ignore now. Here are tips on how to deal when you and your roommates have different political views.
Maintain Respect for One Another
Regardless of how well you and your roommates get along without politics in the picture, placing you both in a conversation about politics can morph you into nothing more than bickering strangers. At the end of the day, everyone has a right to their own views, and a right to vote. Despite what you believe in when it comes to politics, that is one thing you share with your roommates above all. So, even when you could not be more different when it comes to who you are voting for, what policies you stand for, and so on, each person has a right to believe what they believe in — no matter how wrong you find it personally.
Remember this whenever you find yourself conflicted about you and your roommates’ political views. If you and your roommate were friends prior to living together, or have become close because you live together, you should try to not let your political views invade your friendship. However, for some people, this may be a deal-breaker in personal relationships. Some topics, like reproductive rights and immigration, are way more personal for some individuals, but other topics like the economy feel more impersonal. These differences can cause a friendship-breaking rift, or inspire new boundaries between you and your roommate.
If you and your roommates were brought together by a random rooming assignment, or just have no relationship outside of living together, contrasting political views can definitely be more impactful on your personal relationship with them as you do not really have a personal view of them outside of their politics. There are no years of close friendship and memories to cushion that dislike you may have for their conflicting politics, so you may find yourself quicker to be angry or abrasive when it comes to your differing political views. If this is the case, you may consider just agreeing to disagree on politics for the sake of maintaining a neutral setting in your living space.
If you do find yourself discussing politics with your roommate, whether intentionally or unintentionally, remain calm and respectful. Just imagine how you would feel if someone was angrily yelling at you for your political views — why would you put your roommate in that undesirable position? Keep reading for tips on navigating conversations about politics between you and your roommates.
While you may have political views that differ, remember you are sharing your living space, and are both paying to live in that space. That being said, sometimes it is okay to push politics aside to ensure that you are both living in a space that is healthy and safe for one another.
Keep Living/Common Spaces Neutral
As mentioned above, everyone has a right to feel safe, healthy, and happy in their living spaces. That being said, you do not want to shove your political views down your throat by decorating your shared spaces with political gear. While navigating common areas to suit everyone’s tastes is tricky enough, you definitely do not want to hang a flag for one presidential candidate in your living room when you are fully aware that your roommate supports another candidate. If you have access to your own yard, do not take election season as an opportunity to rile up your roommates by placing a yard sign endorsing a candidate that your roommate does not agree with.
On that same note, do not put up decorations that put down your roommates’ political views. This can mean posters that dump on the candidate they support or degrade their political party. This is all pretty self-explanatory, but can further help keep your living space a neutral zone.
Navigating the Road to Understanding Your Roommate
While you may not necessarily want to understand or take on your roommate’s contrasting political views, it may be worth it to understand where they are coming from. College is a pivotal time in many young people’s lives. Itis likely their first step being away from home and the setting that molded them into the person you know and are living with today.
That being said, it’s important to understand that their upbringing more than likely has a large influence in shaping how they behave and think, such as what political views they hold. Just because your roommate came from a primarily affluent, conservative area, does not mean that they hold all the political views typically associated with that area. Or vice versa. Your roommate’s culture and identity are also other integral factors that have shaped the political views they hold.
Do not let certain stereotypes influence the way you interact with your roommate, ever. Trying to understand where your roommate comes from can also allow you to identify what it is exactly you both are clashing on politically. Does it come from an uneducated viewpoint? If so, you may have come into the perfect opportunity to help them learn more about a certain topic.
Accept You’re in No Position to Force Change
Understanding where your roommate is coming from may help many when it comes to accepting that they and their roommates have differing political views. However, for some, they see it as an opening for an opportunity to change their roommates’ views. This is often a giant roommate clash waiting to happen.
Some roommates may take the chance to humor you as you try to change their views, but others may see it as an attack. For them, it is an example of you ignoring their right to their own beliefs and a show of disrespect. Remember that you are in no position to force your roommate to change, just as your roommate is in no position to force you to change your political views and adopt their political views. The age-old saying of “Treat others as you would want to be treated” is key in situations like these.
Discuss Politics Safely and Set Boundaries
You likely will feel the effects of having a roommate with contrasting political views as the election creeps closer, and even amid the aftermath of the election. Politics are more likely than ever to come up, whether it be a roommate streaming a debate or someone discussing the election on the news, it should not come as a surprise to see politics more and more in everyday situations. This means that the neutral zone you and your roommate agreed on may be jeopardized.
Approach any politics-based conversation with caution — be respectful, calm — and try to be neutral. It may just be a matter of saying what was said on the news and leaving it at just that. Those sly comments you want to mutter under your breath or as you walk away? Avoid them. Do not purposely fan the flames, even if you are getting negative energy from your roommate as well.
If you do decide to discuss politics with your roommates, take it as a learning opportunity. It will hardly be the last time you encounter someone with conflicting political views. There will always be classmates, coworkers, and complete strangers you will find yourself disagreeing with when it comes to politics. Talk to your roommates respectfully, learn what their viewpoint is, have a bit of respectful back and forth (find something to agree on, pinpoint where it differs), and move on.
When in doubt, stick to what you know. Meaning, don’t just throw your opinion out continuously in hopes it outweighs any argument. Present facts over opinions to avoid the conversation straying too far from neutral. Your roommate may still react negatively to the facts you present, but they will not be able to deny that they are factual instead of just an opinion. Sticking to facts during your political conversations can help immensely when it comes to keeping everyone somewhat neutral and comfortable throughout the conversation. On the positive side, focusing on facts will also help everyone learn more about the topic being discussed rather than focusing on their emotions.
If you are the one to take the wrong step and lash out during a conversation about politics, be the bigger person, even if it is definitely easier said than done. Pause the conversation, take a deep breath, and apologize for your outburst. This may be the time to take a break from the discussion or a turning point to a different topic. The moment anyone in the conversation stops being civil is the moment the conversation turns toxic and unproductive. It is important for everyone to be able to recognize this shift and know when to leave the conversation be and agree to disagree.
Just like any touchy topic between roommates — hosting parties, having significant others over — remember to set boundaries. Everyone may be feeling more than a little overwhelmed at the current political climate they are facing in different areas of their life such as school, work, family back home, or social media. Their living space may just be their safe haven to take a much-needed mental break.
Have a sit-down with your roommates and discuss how you are going to handle the elections (or any politics for that matter). Are you having any major televised event live-streamed in the common area? Can you discuss what is going on in the election/results? Would you like to avoid anything related to politics in your conversations with your roommates? These boundaries can be pivotal in keeping the peace between roommates, especially with an election around the corner.
Take Politics Where You Feel Safe
While you may not necessarily feel comfortable discussing politics with your roommates due to your conflicting political views, do not rob yourself of the opportunity to engage in conversations about politics. As a college student, you have plenty of resources where you can connect with individuals and/or groups that hold similar political views to you. There are typically clubs or organizations that are for students, both Democrat and Republican.
You also do not have to necessarily seek out a politics-based organization to have conversations about politics. Reach out to friends who have similar political views to you to feel safer when it comes to political conversations. If you live in on-campus housing where there are common spaces to meet with students, try seeing if anyone else would like to discuss a debate or town hall so you can engage in a more neutral setting in a bigger group in a space such as a dorm common room.
At the end of the day, living with roommates can be tough for just about anyone. Adding politics into the conversation can be messy for anyone, roommates or not. Combine the two, and you may just find yourself in a disaster.
Remember to stay civil and respectful of each other — you both have a right to the space and to believe whatever you want to believe. Set and stick to your boundaries to keep everyone comfortable in their own living space.
Apartment hunting is even more fun when you’re doing it with friends! It’s exciting to picture yourself and your best friends living in a cute three-bedroom apartment. However, when you apartment hunt with other people, there needs to be clear communication and agreement every step of the way. Here are some tips to help you apartment hunt when you already have your roommates.
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Make sure everyone is on the same page
When you are looking for an apartment with roommates, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page in many areas. For example, you must be on the same page when it comes to budget, location, and rules for living in the apartment. It would be a good idea to have a meeting with all the new roommates to discuss these things. You can make decisions, as a group, during this meeting. When everyone communicates clearly and is on the same page, there will be fewer arguments.
Discuss everyone’s rental history
When multiple people live in an apartment, the potential landlord will look at each tenant’s credit history. Before you decide for sure who will live in the apartment, all your potential roommates need to be transparent about their rental history, since rental and credit history could affect your rent amount, or it could even cause your apartment application to be rejected. You will want to know these things before you start applying for apartments with your roommates. It would be a good idea for all roommates to know these things about each other: Did they have any problems with their previous property manager? Do they have bad credit that might cause the apartment application to be rejected? Have they had problems paying their share of rent in the past? This will be a hard conversation to have, but it’s important to be aware of any potential problems that might come up during the application process.
Set a budget
Of course, one of the most important discussions roommates need to have is about finances. You all need to decide together how much you are willing to pay for household expenses like rent, electricity, gas, water, trash removal, heating/cooling, Internet, and cable. You can easily search online to find out what reasonable rates for these utilities are in your area, and decide an amount from there. To keep things crystal clear, make sure each roommate knows the amount they would be responsible for paying each month. You can also discuss if you’re willing to go over your budget (and by how much) to get a better place. Figuring out a budget with all your potential roommates is a great starting point when looking for an apartment.
Keep a shared spreadsheet of potential places
Since there will be multiple people involved in this apartment search, it might be a good idea to keep track of the places you are interested in. You and your roommates could set up a shared spreadsheet (all roommates should have access to edit it) with potential apartments. More specifically, you can include apartment address, monthly rent, any amenities, and which utilities (if any) are included in the rent. If you go see the apartment, you can also include your impressions of the place and of the property manager. This will help you keep track of which apartments you like and which you have already looked at. It will also be a good visual reference for how much money you will be spending and the types of apartments that are available. Making sure the spreadsheet is shareable is a great way to make sure all your roommates can have access to it and can add places, too.
Make sure everyone understands the terms of the lease
Before anyone signs a leasing agreement, they should read it thoroughly and understand what it says. Many people don’t understand their agreement because it is usually a long, dry, and boring legal document. However, it’s important to understand your lease. Here is a list of things you should definitely know:
- What utilities are included in the rent?
- What happens if you need to break your lease?
- What happens if a roommate doesn’t pay their share of the rent? (This might not be outlined in the leasing agreement, because issues between roommates are not the property manager’s problem. However, it would still be a good question to discuss as you draft a roommate agreement, more on that later in the article.)
- What happens if a roommate unexpectedly leaves, or needs to be kicked out of the apartment? (Again, this might not be outlined in the leasing agreement, but should definitely be discussed. Even if you and your roommates get along really well, and you’re positive they would never leave unexpectedly, it’s still a good idea to have a plan in case it does happen.)
- How does your property manager accept rent money? (Can you pay online with a credit card, or are only paper checks accepted?)
- Are pets allowed?
- What is the parking policy?
Although the above list is not exhaustive by any means, it’s a good guideline for lease rules that each roommate should understand.
Decide your “non-negotiables” together
When looking for an apartment, there are certain things you can do without (for example, some people are okay with not having a dishwasher). However, there are some things that are absolutely not negotiable (for example, if you have a car, parking is a must-have!). These “non-negotiables” will be different depending on the person. When you meet with your roommates, discuss what everyone’s non-negotiables are. Discuss together and come up with a final, master list of things your apartment must absolutely have. This list will guide you and your roommates as you search for an apartment that meets everyone’s needs.
Check out the neighborhood together
A great way to spend time with your roommates and to familiarize yourself with a potential new area is to simply check out a new neighborhood together! After you go to see an apartment, it would be a good idea to walk or drive around the neighborhood for a little bit. A walk around the neighborhood will show you what the “vibe” is like in the area. This is important because you don’t want to live in a bad neighborhood. This could be the deciding factor between one apartment and another, so pay attention to the vibe of the neighborhood!
Additionally, a walk around the neighborhood will give you a chance to explore any restaurants or stores in the area. (Bonus points if there’s a coffee shop near your new apartment!) You might just find your new favorite place to eat or shop.
Of course, if you can’t physically go and check out the neighborhood, you can at least check out the area on Google Maps or Street View to check out what’s nearby.
As you look for an apartment with your roommates, it’s important to learn about the area you might be living in. Walking or driving around the neighborhood is a good way to do this.
Read reviews for multiple apartment complexes
Some apartment complexes have reviews online. If you do a quick search for the name of the apartment complex and the word “reviews”, you will likely find something helpful. You should spend time reading the reviews of the apartments you are interested in. This way, you can read what other tenants have to say about living in that particular apartment complex. Reviews are helpful because tenants are usually very honest about the pros and cons of their living situation. Reading these comments can guide you to which apartment would best suit you and your roommates. (Bonus points if you and your roommates can all read the reviews together!)
Draft a roommate contract
For any roommate situation, it would be a good idea for all the roommates to get together and draft a roommate contract. This contract will outline the expectations the roommates have for each other. For example, it should mention things like expectations for things like overnight guests (how much advance notice should be given? Is there a limit to how many days guests can stay over? What about significant others?). Here are more examples of things that should be mentioned in a roommate contract:
- What food items are shared? What items do you need to ask for permission to eat?
- What’s the policy on borrowing personal belongings, like an item of clothing or a hair straightener?
- Who will ensure that all the bills get paid? How will everyone send in their share of the rent?
- How will you divide the chores?
- Any quiet hours that should be respected?
- How will you resolve any conflicts that come up?
- What will happen if one roommate doesn’t pay their share of the rent, or unexpectedly moves out?
Having these policies in writing will protect you and your roommates. It will serve as a guideline for how you guys will live together.
Consult the Internet
Now that you know what kind of apartment you and your roommates are looking for, and you have a budget and a target neighborhood, you can start looking for apartments. One of the easiest ways to find an apartment nowadays is to look online. There are many websites you can use to find a place. Some of these websites might even have reviews from tenants, as I mentioned before. The Internet is a great way to start your apartment search.
Don’t pay for more than you need
As you and your roommate discuss your negotiables and your non-negotiables, you should also make sure you don’t pay for more than you need. A place that has many amenities will likely cost more money. If you don’t need many amenities, choose a place with fewer amenities, as this will save you money. Again, which amenities you need is a topic you should discuss with your roommates.
Decide how you will deal with bigger rooms
Another important topic to discuss with your roommates before you move in is how you will deal with rooms of different sizes, or if one room is the master bedroom. First, you should discuss who will get the bigger room. Then, you should discuss the difference in how much they should pay in rent and utilities. Of course, the main question is: how much more? This is a topic that should be discussed beforehand and should be agreed upon by everyone. Again, everyone should know how much they should expect to contribute to housing expenses every month.
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Decide how bills will be paid
After deciding how the bills will be split among the roommates, it’s also important to decide how they will be paid. For example, will one person be responsible for making sure rent is paid, while the other person makes sure the utilities are paid? Or will one person be in charge of sending in the payments for all the bills? Will you need to send the money via Venmo or Zelle to this person? How far in advance of the bill due date will you need to do this? What happens if someone can’t pay their share? These are all important questions that need to be addressed before you start paying bills.
Getting an apartment with your friends is a lot of fun. Still, when you leave with roommates, it’s important to set clear, ground rules from the start. (If you are already good friends with your roommates, some people would say it’s even MORE important to set these rules.) When these rules are in place, everyone will know their responsibilities and what to expect from the other roommates.
The first thing you should do when you decide to get an apartment with your friends is to discuss what everyone wants or needs in a living space. For example, what neighborhood does everyone want to live in? What amenities do people need? Will they need a parking spot or a pet-friendly place? You should also set a budget for each of your housing expenses, not just rent. Make sure everyone is on the same page with what they can afford. Once you do this, you’re ready to start looking for your place! The Internet is a great place to start looking. If you find a place that interests you, check out the neighborhood together. When you’re sure you want to apply for that apartment, take a look at the leasing agreement and ensure you (and your roommates) agree with everything written there. In doing these things, you should have a smooth time finding an apartment with your roommates.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought on many changes to everyone’s lives, from classes going remote to not being able to freely go about as you are used to. With six months into the pandemic, people are still adjusting to what they call their new normal. One of the many adjustments people continue to face is navigating dating during the pandemic. Whether it be starting new relationships or progressing in longterm relationships, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are relearning dating norms amid the pandemic. One of these “norms” people are having to revisit is reworking boundaries roommates typically set about dating — when significant others are allowed, how often they are allowed over, and so on.
While many may feel more than comfortable expanding their quarantine circles, others may not feel so safe. As one can imagine, this can cause a rift between roommates who have different ideas about what is acceptable when interacting with those out of their homes. Keep reading for tips on setting boundaries with roommates about dating in the pandemic while keeping every safe and happy.
Host open discussions about how comfortable you feel during the pandemic
If you are living with roommates, there always seems to be something you need to be setting boundaries on — cleaning duties, if you can get a pet for the apartment, redecorating shared spaces, and so on. In light of the pandemic, having guests over and maintaining social distancing to keep everyone involved safe may likely join the list of disagreements between roommates. Dating can be a tricky topic to discuss with roommates, so it is best to start off by discussing how everyone feels inviting others over, or even seeing others outside the household, during the pandemic.
Forget romantic interest — dial discussions down to what each roommate is comfortable with. While one roommate may be perfectly fine inviting others into their living space, another may want no outsider to come indoors in order to keep everyone safe.
Discuss whether or not you would allow anyone new into your apartment and whether that changes depending on whether that new person has been seeing other people or self-isolating. If you live somewhere with an outdoor space, like a porch or rooftop access you may also want to consider how that plays into your boundaries — are people allowed over in outdoor spaces, but not indoor spaces? Do boundaries differ between the two?
It is also important to set boundaries on roommates dating outside of the house. Whether you or your roommate or going to their significant other’s living space or meet up in public spaces, it still creates the risk of bringing COVID-19 into your home.
Ideas for boundaries set between you and your roommates may include:
- Outside guests must wear a face covering at all times when indoors (Question: Does this apply to all spaces or just common areas?)
- Have roommates thoroughly clean and sanitize spaces after a guest comes over. Be sure to detail what sanitizing and cleaning should entail — set standards for everyone to follow.
- Have outside guests self-isolate to limit risks. Be aware of everyone’s personal quarantine bubbles.
It is also a great idea to encourage every roommate to host discussions with their potential partners. Everyone should be asking questions like if they prefer to continue talking online versus in-person, how many people they interact with, whether or not they want to meet indoors or outdoors, and so on.
Maintain boundaries and keep everyone in check
After you set guidelines down between you and your roommates, it is just as essential to hold each and every one of your roommates accountable, including yourself. These boundaries should apply to everyone and if you find someone is be violating them, it is important to address the issue as early as possible. These violations may just be due to a roommate misunderstanding certain boundaries, or they may simply just disregarding them and not taking them seriously. While you may feel rude or overly-strict pointing violations out, remember it’s best for the health of everyone involved.
It is also important to remember that with every person you are inviting into your household or seeing outside of your household, you are increasing everyone’s risk of exposure to COVID-19. While you may be controlling your own individual actions (and partly your roommates’), you will never be able to fully control someone else’s actions. You may want to believe that everyone is taking safety measures just as seriously as your household is, they also may not be and have a complete disregard of safety measures. Whoever you or your roommate may be dating has others they likely come into contact with daily — their roommates, friends, and family members.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the more closely you interact with others, and the longer the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. While you (or your roommate) may be ready to move freely, especially when it comes to your romantic endeavors, you still need to keep everyone’s wellbeing in priority.
Understand that while you may want to pursue your romantic interests — online dating is still very much a thing, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of it during the pandemic. The pandemic has left many areas of our daily lives in uncertainty, with one of them being dating. Remember that every roommate is getting used to this new normal — and your new boundaries — and to treat it as a learning curve as everyone adjusts.
There are many reasons why you may want to move out of your apartment in the middle of your lease. Whether you are studying abroad, accepting a job or internship in a different city, or simply want different roommates, you’re responsible for finding a subletter to take your place. However, if you live with roommates, this may be a little more difficult as your roommate, along with your landlord, must approve the subletter.
It can be a long and frustrating process to find a subletter, but in the case that you have to get your roommate to approve them, here are some ways to make it a little easier.
Notify Your Roommate That You’re Moving Out
The first, and most important, step to getting your roommate to approve a subletter is to notify them that you are moving out. Sit them down and have a conversation about moving out and that you must find someone to replace you. Give your roommate details about when you expect to move out and what you are planning to take with you.
Let your roommate know that they will have to approve the subletter you find. This will prepare them and put them into the mindset of living with a new roommate, making the transition easier.
Ask Your Roommate About Their Preferences
While you are talking to your roommate about moving out and finding a subletter, ask them what they appreciate and desire in a roommate. You don’t want to stick them with someone that will make their life miserable after you move out. What kind of person do they get along with? Do they have a preference as to the subletter’s age or if they are in school?
Screen Your Subletter
Once you have found someone, or multiple people, who are interested in subletting your room, it’s time to thoroughly screen them. Meet with your subletter in person and ask them to fill out an application for your landlord. This is important because it will inform you if they have been evicted before and their financial situation. You don’t want to be left with the rent if your subletter doesn’t pay it one month.
Next, get to know what kind of person your potential subletter is. Do they party a lot? What do they expect out of a good roommate? This will help you decide if they are a good match for your roommate.
Introduce Your Roommate
If you have determined that the subletter you have found is a good fit to take your spot and will probably get along with your roommate, it’s time to introduce them. Schedule a time for all of you to get together, preferably in the apartment so they can get a feel for the atmosphere. Let your roommate interview your subletter about their lifestyle and personality. Your roommate will appreciate having a say in the decision and getting to know their potential new roommate.
Be Considerate of Your Roommate
It can be frustrating trying to find a subletter, especially if you are on a time crunch. You don’t want to throw the first person who wants to sublet your room at your roommate, though. They may be a terrible match with your roommate and make their living situation unbearable. This would leave your roommate with a bad taste in their mouth about you.
Consider your roommate’s feelings and lifestyle when interviewing your potential subletters. It may take some extra time to go through a couple of different people, but it will be worth it for both you and your roommate in the end.
Get Your Landlord’s Approval
Once you have received your roommate’s approval, it’s time to notify your landlord that you have found someone to sublet your room to. They have the ultimate say as to whether you can take someone on as a subletter. Their decision is usually based on financial information such as a credit check and a background check.
Ask your subletter to complete an application for your landlord to officially get the subletting process rolling. Your landlord may also want to meet their new tenant in person, which you should schedule and be present for as well.
Getting Approval for Your Subletter
Subletting your apartment is no easy task and getting your roommate’s approval of your subletter doesn’t make it any easier. While you may want to let the first person interested take the room, it’s important to consider your roommate’s feelings, screen the subletter, and introduce them to your roommate before you ask for your landlord’s approval. Since your roommate will be the one living with the person, they should have a say in the decision of who takes your room.
Be patient and considerate throughout this process. Taking the extra time to find a subletter that your roommate will approve of will pay off in the end.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are a lot of things that have become more difficult than before — finding a roommate, for instance. With social distancing guidelines in place, it can be a bit challenging to successfully find a roommate whom you think you can trust and safely live with. Despite the extra challenge, however, it is still possible to find a new roommate safely and manage to live with them, provided you both are able to communicate properly and set some boundaries.
Finding a Roommate
Advertise your room.
Whether or not we’re in the middle of a pandemic, one of the first steps of finding a new roommate is advertising your available room and/or reaching out to people who may be interested in renting with you. If you already happen to know someone who has expressed some interest in becoming your roommate, that makes things a little easier for you because you’ll know them already and most likely have some idea of their daily habits and lifestyle.
However, if there isn’t anyone you know who might be looking to rent with you, you’ll have to figure out a way to advertise your available room. If you’re active on social media, you can post about your room and your request for a roommate on various social media platforms, such as on Facebook and Instagram. Most likely, there will be some takers who are interested, and they will contact you. Make sure when you post or advertise to include pertinent details about your room — the location, the size, how many rooms there are, the price, and any other details that you think will be necessary for someone to make a decision or at least be interested.
Set up a virtual meeting with them.
Once you’ve gotten in contact with a potential roommate, you should set up a virtual meeting to get to know them and ask them a few questions. A virtual meeting is the obvious choice during this pandemic, as you want to be safe and maintain social distancing. A video chat, a conference call, or even a phone call will be the best communication options; in fact, a video chat in which you can see the other person’s face is better than a regular phone call because you’ll be able to get a fuller picture of this person. While a virtual meeting may not feel quite the same as an in-person meeting, it is certainly safer and the best thing you can do while practicing social distancing.
Ask the right questions.
During your meeting with a potential new roommate, make sure to ask the right questions in order to get the best picture of who that person is and what kind of roommate they could turn out to be. Here are a few important questions to ask.
1. Are you practicing social distancing?
One of the most important things to know about a potential new roommate is whether or not they are taking social distancing seriously. After all, if you’re going to be living with this person, you want to make sure that they are staying safe whenever they go out so that they don’t contract the virus and possibly spread it to you. If they tell you that they are taking social distancing seriously and have been practicing safety since the pandemic started, that should be a reassuring sign — it shows that both of you are on the same page and are committed to staying safe for each other’s sake. You can also discuss each other’s mask-wearing and hand-washing habits, as those are important for discerning whether or not they are taking social distancing seriously. If they wear a mask properly every time they go out and wash their hands regularly, especially when they come back to the apartment, that’s a good sign, and perhaps you’ll feel comfortable moving forward with them.
2. How have you been spending your time during the pandemic?
Another good question to ask is how they have been spending their time during the pandemic. After all, they will most likely continue this behavior after they have moved in with you, so you want to make sure that you’ll be comfortable with their lifestyle. For example, if the person you’re speaking with spends a lot of time hanging out with their friends, that may be a red flag for you. Once they move in with you, any people they come into regular contact with will also become part of your social matrix by default, thereby increasing the risk for the spread of coronavirus. As a result, you need to be very careful and selective in who you choose as a roommate, particularly based on their lifestyle and how they’ve been regularly spending their time over the past few months. And on the flip side, if the person you’re considering hasn’t been going out very often, mostly stays at home, and doesn’t see many people, that’s a good sign that they are maintaining a safe lifestyle and may be a good, trustworthy roommate.
3. What is your budget?
It’s always important to ask about someone’s budget and financial status when you’re considering them as a potential roommate, but it is perhaps even more important during this pandemic. With many people having lost their jobs this year so far, or at the very least feeling cautious because job security is becoming less certain, budgets are tight. And of course, you want to be living with a dependable roommate who has a reasonable budget and will be reliable enough to pay their rent and other bills on time every month. As a result, if you choose someone who is financially reliable, that will save you a lot of headaches later on, and you can rest assured that you won’t run into any financial rent-related problems. In addition, being aware of your new roommate’s budget is generally good for understanding what kind of lifestyle they lead — for instance, if they spend a great deal or don’t manage their money well, their actions could potentially point to their behavior in other areas and how seriously (or not seriously) they are taking initiative to stay safe during this pandemic.
4. How have you been getting groceries?
Asking about how they buy their groceries may seem oddly specific, but it’s nevertheless an important question to ask to get to know them better and, again, understand how their lifestyle plays out.
If they go to the grocery store in person, it’s important to know whether or not they regularly wear a mask. If they don’t visit the grocery store in person, they might prefer to order their groceries online. Their method of getting groceries may even inform how you get yours, since it may be most convenient for you both to get your groceries the same way. If they don’t happen to cook very often and instead end up ordering in or getting takeout from restaurants, that’s also an indication of their regular eating habits and could possibly be a factor in your consideration of them as a roommate. Either going to the restaurant to pick up takeout or ordering in are both viable and safe options; just make sure that they are going about it in a safe, mindful, and smart manner.
5. Do you plan on staying in this city/town for the long term?
Another question you may want to ask is about their long-term plans to stay in a particular city or town in which you are living. If the person you’re considering is serious and committed to staying for a decently long time, for at least a year, that’s most likely a good sign that they’ll stick around for a while. After all, you wouldn’t want to get saddled with an unreliable roommate who ends up breaking the lease early on, as that will just cause even more of a headache for you later on. What’s more, if they are committed to staying as your roommate for the long term, they will be more likely to dependably pay their share of the rent and be responsible in many aspects.
Sign a roommate agreement.
Once you’ve made a good connection with someone and decided that you both want to be roommates, it’s time to come up with a roommate agreement that you both agree on. The purpose of the agreement is to make sure that you both are on the same page and are willing to cooperate with each other in the face of potential difficulties and conflicts. The agreement may include things such as a chore schedule, quiet hours, how many guests can come over (if any at all) and when, pets, smoking, shared and private spaces, and shared costs, just to name a few. You and your roommate can both feel free to add whatever else you think is necessary to the document. After all, the goal of the agreement is to provide a foundation for both of you to foster mutual understanding and trust with one another.
Living with a New Roommate
After you’ve made the decision and signed all the papers, you’ll have to handle a whole new deal: living with the roommate you’ve chosen. During the pandemic, even if you’re in an area where you don’t have to strictly self-quarantine, it’s still extremely important to take proper precautions and be mindful about your health and safety — and the health and safety of others — wherever you go. As a result, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Since you and your roommate will likely be spending a lot of time in the apartment together, or at least in the same general shared space, it’s crucial that you both discuss boundaries. This is also where the terms of the roommate agreement come into play. If you are to live together peacefully as roommates, you need to respect each other’s wishes and any limitations you’ve set together. For example, if you put in the agreement that each of you can only have one guest over at a time, you both need to honor that.
Come up with a cleaning schedule.
A cleaning schedule may also have been decided upon in the roommate agreement, in which case, you and your roommate need to stick to it. Make sure that you have devised a schedule so that both of you know what to expect and who is scheduled to do which chores on which days. Having a consistent cleaning schedule will also ensure that your apartment stays clean on a regular basis, which will be reassuring and comforting for you.
Designate individual workspaces.
When you and your roommate have to spend a lot of time together in a relatively small space, it’s important to designate individual workspaces so that you don’t get in each other’s way. Especially if you both are continuing to work from home, you should each have a specific place in the apartment where you do your work — for example, in your bedrooms or even on opposite sides of the room. Make sure to give each other enough breathing room so that you can both stay sane throughout the day.
Ultimately, finding and living with new roommates — even in the midst of the pandemic — doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Make sure that you carefully do your research on what kind of roommate you want to live with, and be safe once you start living with them.
We are certainly living in strange times, so living with roommates can be a challenge. While you will have to undergo basic roommate issues such as monetary arguments, space conflicts, and the like, you may also find yourself in conflict over the Coronavirus.
Now more than ever, people are hyper-aware of germs and the exposure to germs that individuals around them may have. This means that if you believe your roommate has been exposed to Coronavirus, you could find yourself struggling to avoid an argument.
So what is the etiquette? What should you do if you feel your roommate is putting you at risk for the Coronavirus? These six tips are a good way to avoid an argument while also staying safe.
Photo Via: Pixabay
1. Communicate Your Concerns
It's so important to let your roommate know how you're feeling about the Coronavirus. While you certainly don't want to frame this as an attack on their exposure, you do want to have an open and honest conversation about your concerns.
Do you feel you're being put at risk? If so, let them know why you believe that. Also be open to communicating methods through which you can both stay safe. Communication is key, especially in this day and age.
2. Take Precautions at Home
When you know that you or your roommate(s) are out and about and exposed to the virus, it's important to take all the precautions you can at home to avoid contaminating your living space.
While you don't need to go overboard and bleach all surfaces, you should be regularly wiping things down and keeping your space as clean as possible. So while washing your hands is a great precaution, you should also consider how you're keeping your living space as germ-free as possible, especially if your roommates are out and about during the pandemic.
3. Ask them to Take Precautions
As mentioned above, having a conversation with your roommate is a strong first step. In that conversation, you should always be talking about the proper safety precautions that you both should be taking.
This means that you should both set rules and guidelines that you are both comfortable with to ensure you're both being as safe as possible and ensuring that the other feels just as safe. When in doubt, talk it out!
4. Limit Your Exposure
Just because you feel that your roommate has been exposed is not to say that you haven't, especially if you are living together in close proximity. Just as you'd expect them to be limiting their exposure, you should also be limiting yours.
This means that you both should have a conversation about what type of exposure is necessary/acceptable. So are you both going to work? Do you go out to the bars or parties? Do you hang out with friends? Do either of you have any issues in any of those areas? Again, setting the guidelines will help to limit your exposure as well as theirs.
5. Limit Company
The key to avoiding Coronavirus, at least in the eyes of the experts, is to limit the amount of exposure you have. This means that you should be limiting exposure in many regards, including company.
If you or your roommate are having company over, you're increasing both of your risks for the Coronavirus. This means that you should have limited contact with people, which means that you shouldn't be having company over, especially if you feel that one of the two of you has been exposed to the virus. Basically, you don't want to expose more people, so definitely limit your contact with others.
6. Pay Attention to Symptoms
If you feel that your roommate has been exposed, or if you feel that you have, you should be paying attention to symptoms. Do you really feel that you have it, or that they do? If so, you should consider getting tested.
You should look up the symptoms and ensure that neither of you exhibits any and, if you do, you should both be tested and quarantine until you have the results. If you are negative, you can continue life as you did, but if even one of you is positive, you should continue the quarantine until you are cleared by medical professionals.
Again, Coronavirus has changed the times that we're living in, meaning that many individuals will find themselves in conflict with their roommates over Coronavirus related issues.
The more at-risk you are, or the more hyper-aware you are of the germs your roommate is exposed to, the more likely you are to feel you're at risk (or, at the very least, your roommate is).
The above six tips are a good way to ensure you are communicating your concerns with your roommate while also staying as safe as possible.
By Naomi Fink
Moving into an off-campus apartment this year? That’s awesome! Congrats! Off-campus apartments can be cheaper and homier than on-campus housing -- but, it also means that you have more responsibilities as a roommate and as a tenant. Here are some tips to help you coordinate with your roommates, stay organized, and most importantly, protect your relationships.
1. Make a group chat with your roommates.
This may sound obvious, but to coordinate with your roommates you’ll need a way of communicating regularly. If possible, use WhatsApp, GroupMe, or some other form of messaging where you can respond to individual messages directly. It can get confusing when everyone’s chatting at once and the reply feature is a life-saver! Open the flow of communication early on to make sure you and your roommates have what you need and are properly prepared for moving day.
2. Create a list of all the things you need.
There’s no better way to stay organized than by using a good old-fashioned checklist! When coordinating with your roommates, it can be useful to share a Google Doc list of shared items, especially since many things that were previously included in your dorm room -- like beds, dressers, desks, and storage space -- you’ll now have to procure yourselves.
Start off with a list of necessities and slowly work your way towards your wish-list items. As much as you might want those fun twinkly-lights for your bedroom, making sure you have pots and pans for your kitchen should probably come first. Color-coding is an excellent way to split up responsibilities and keep track of who’s bringing what. Coordinate with your roommates and share pictures of the items you’re bringing to make sure you’re all on the same page and that all your bases are covered.
3. Discuss your plan for dividing expenses.
Perhaps the toughest conversation you and your roommates will need to have is the talk about finances. Are you splitting all expenses equally? Should you divide responsibilities by costs or by items? Do you really need a $200 couch when a $100 couch will do? These questions can be especially difficult to discuss if you and your roommates are coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds, so it’s important to be transparent about your spending limits and expectations from the get-go.
If you’re more cost-conscious, resources like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great places to look for gently-used, lower-priced items. You can also save money by using Amazon Student Prime to order items straight to your door in bulk. Using an app like Splitwise or Finsplit can also be a super helpful way of remembering who owes who and how much. Avoid uncomfortable debts and unnecessary resentment by letting technology keep track for you!
And wherever you are on the financial spectrum, try to be sensitive to your roommates’ wants, needs, and boundaries. Not everyone can afford brand-new items and not everyone is comfortable with used items -- pick your battles carefully, compromise when possible, and be prepared to give in sometimes. These discussions are important but they aren’t worth losing friendships over.
4. Coordinate colors.
Moving into an off-campus apartment and coordinating with your roommates is serious business -- picking out your colors and glamming up your new home is the fun part! Set the tone with matching white furniture and bright blue accent pieces or go with darker hues, featuring sharp black amenities and a splash of burgundy. You’ll be in your apartment a lot -- make it look nice!
5. Schedule apartment meetings.
Communication is critical when living with other people. Schedule and conduct apartment meetings on a regular basis to check in with one another, confront conflicts, and keep members of your apartment from harboring any resentful feelings. It’s much better to discuss your frustrations and work through them than to hold onto negative emotions and let them fester.
Then again, not all meetings need to be -- or should be -- serious. It’s important to schedule fun roommate activities too, especially when there are so many stresses that come along with living together! Movie nights, game nights, group hikes, and family-style dinners are great ways to bond with your roommates and strengthen your relationships. You may have only signed a one-year lease but you’ll want your friendships to last forever.
If you’re nervous about your upcoming move, use these five tips to help you stay on track. Don’t let the stresses of off-campus living outweigh the excitement of this new step! Chat, plan, and coordinate with your roommates to ensure a smooth transition into your apartment and peaceful co-existing once you’re there. Happy adulting!