Successful cohabitation with a roommate can make a world of difference, especially as a student. It can impact your ability to study and help you build lasting friendships. Open communication, shared chores or responsibilities, empathy, and respect all contribute to successful cohabitation with a roommate.

Understandably, sharing a living space comes with many challenges, including different hygiene standards, conflicting schedules, and varying personalities. However, strategies like choosing compatible roommates (when possible), establishing clear expectations, communicating effectively, resolving conflict, and accepting differences can help you navigate these challenges and create a home that’s comfortable for everyone. 

Choosing Compatible Roommates (If Possible)

People have different backgrounds and experiences, all of which shape their personalities, character, habits, and lifestyle. That’s why it’s important to choose a roommate who is compatible with you (if you have the option to choose). 

It’s worth mentioning that compatibility does not necessarily mean having a roommate who’s exactly like you in every way. While that’s possible, it’s rare. The next best thing is to find someone with whom you have a lot in common, particularly when it comes to things that will make your cohabitation more successful. 

Since it’s unlikely you will align with every aspect of a person’s life, it’s best to pay attention to habits that matter the most, such as lifestyle, cleanliness, and study habits. You’ll be more likely to enjoy each other’s company if you have similar lifestyles. Issues about unkempt living spaces, filth, and clutter will hardly arise if your roommate is as clean as you are. Also, a roommate who has good study habits is likely to influence your study habits, improving your academic performance.

Establishing Clear Expectations

It’s best to establish your expectations as soon as possible when you’re still in the early stages of settling in as roommates. The last thing you want to do is wait until your roommate has developed a schedule or imposed their habits before you’ve had the chance to discuss them. 

The earlier you start ironing out your differences and establishing agreements, the more time you’ll have to make adjustments, compromises, and even some level of sacrifice to make your stay together more comfortable. 

When establishing agreements, it’s best to focus on key areas like household duties, study/sleep schedules, and noise levels. Decide whose responsibility it is to clean what and when. Discussing noise levels is especially important if your roommate prefers to crank up the volume when watching TV or listening to music. If you’re unsure how to go about creating a roommate agreement, use this general template or this highly specific template for inspiration. 

Effective Communication Strategies 

Communication is an essential ingredient for successful cohabitation with a roommate. You want to be sure you are communicating well so you do not come off as imposing, rude, or lacking empathy. The following tips can help you communicate openly and honestly with your roommate: 

  • Start by establishing regular check-ins or meetings to address concerns and ensure everyone is on the same page. Such meetings will provide a forum to openly discuss expectations and clarify any misunderstandings. 
  • Create a safe space where every roommate will feel comfortable expressing their opinions without fearing judgment. 
  • Be open to opposing views or opinions, as your roommates may come from different backgrounds with different experiences. 
  • Try not to be too assertive when expressing yourself, be open to criticism, and try to avoid blame.
  • Address conflicts promptly and respectfully before they get out of control. Be open to making compromises (and expect the same from your roommates).

Consider this scenario: You arrive at your apartment tired and in need of a good night’s rest, but you discover that your roommate is having a loud, late-night hangout with friends. There are many ways to approach this situation. You could privately remind your roommate of visiting hours and request they give you a heads-up first in the case of a special occasion. If you don’t mind the visitors, you could simply inform your roommate that you’re going to bed and ask if they wouldn’t mind choosing a quiet activity to engage in so you can sleep.

This type of interaction may feel awkward at first, but the more practice you have reiterating expectations and coming up with creative solutions to conflict, the better you will get.

Conflict Resolution Techniques

How well you resolve conflicts can affect your ability to cohabitate as roommates. Cleanliness standards, noise levels, and lifestyle habits are common sources of disagreement. Although such conflicts may be unavoidable, peaceful resolutions can prevent them from escalating and causing tension in the apartment. The following step-by-step strategies will help you resolve conflicts peacefully:

  1. Acknowledge the problem instead of ignoring it. It may seem easier to avoid conflict, but in reality, this allows feelings of resentment and anger to multiply. 
  2. Initiate an open conversation and listen to your roommate’s perspective on the issue.
  3. Share your perspective on the issue kindly and honestly.
  4. Consider the feelings and experiences of both individuals involved so you can settle on common ground.
  5. Confirm that your roommate is content with the solution, and check in with them after it’s been implemented. Make adjustments when necessary.

A willingness to compromise is crucial for any conflict resolution, as all parties can agree on a favorable, win-win solution. 

Dealing with Differences

Differences are sure to emerge whenever people from varying backgrounds live together as roommates, and it helps to know how best to deal with them. It’s important to acknowledge these differences when they pop up instead of disregarding them. Some may be cultural, while others may be lifestyle or even personality differences. 

The only way to fully accept such differences is to embrace diversity in your living space. This begins with creating and promoting an inclusive and welcoming environment where everyone is free to be themselves. To make this possible, you must encourage open dialogue and be willing to embrace (or even celebrate) the differences. Adopt an attitude of open-mindedness and maintain respect for different cultures. This way, you can cohabitate with mutual respect, understanding, and harmony. 


Adopting the right strategies is crucial for successful cohabitation. Choosing compatible roommates, establishing clear expectations, communicating well, resolving conflicts, and dealing with differences are paramount to creating an optimal experience.

If you’re looking for the best student housing in Rexburg, contact Sunrise Village today. We pride ourselves on fostering an environment where students of all backgrounds can thrive and cohabitate harmoniously. Let us help you find the perfect apartment where you can build lasting memories with wonderful roommates.