When you live with a roommate, there’s a very good chance that the two of you made the decision to live together for financial reasons. Regardless of how well you think you know your roommate, there will inevitably be things that cause friction between the two of you. If you’re a messy roommate and you live with someone who is a clean freak, or vice versa, things can easily go from peaceful to hostile if you don’t come to a mutual agreement as to how each of you can deal with the other person’s habits.
Make Sure You Each Have Some Personal Space
The most obvious way to ensure that you each have some personal space is by having separate bedrooms. Decide that each of you will be responsible for cleaning your own bedroom. Your messy roommate can then keep that one area of your apartment as messy as he/she wants, and you can be as tidy as you want.
Establish Ground Rules for Common Living Spaces
If you’re going to get along with your roommate, one of the first things you need to do together is establish ground rules for common living areas. It isn’t fair to you to have a messy roommate turn the kitchen upside down and you clean it up.
Decide from the get-go that you’re each going to clean up after yourselves, or create a kitchen cleaning plan so that each of you know who is responsible for what.
Create Storage Areas Throughout the Apartment
No matter where you live, how big your apartment is, or how much you’re paying for rent, there is probably a serious lack of usable storage space. If you don’t want to see shoes piled up everywhere when you walk into the apartment, put a bench and shoe shelf as close to the door as possible. That way, people can sit down, remove their shoes and place them accordingly.
Anytime you subscribe to a magazine or ask to receive catalogs from different companies, you are opening up the possibility that paper clutter will accumulate in the apartment. Put baskets in a space close to the apartment entry so that garbage is thrown into one, and things you need to look over and sort through are thrown into the other.
If you don’t have a coat closet in the entryway of the apartment, you might want to consider purchasing a coat rack, or some sort of hook system for the wall that will allow you and your roommate to hang your coat up as soon as you walk into the apartment. This will make it easy for both of you to hang up your coats as soon as you come home.
Decide on Laundry Arrangement in Advance
If you have laundry in your apartment, you should each have a sorting system for laundry. You should also clarify your expectations about leaving stuff around. Since you have to share appliances, you should both remove your clothing from the washer or dryer when it’s done. Help your messy roommate get into the habit of cleaning the lint trap after using the dryer, and decide in advance whether you’re going to share laundry supplies or buy your own.
Be as clear as possible about your expectations of one another before moving in together. If necessary, put things in writing. A mutual understanding of what you expect from one another will prevent many potential fights that would otherwise be inevitable when a neat freak tries to live with a messy person – kind of like Felix and Oscar from The Odd Couple.