Setting Clear Roommate Ground Rules At The Start

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Setting Clear Roommate Ground Rules at the Start

Did you know that the median price of rent in Brooklyn climbed to $3,000 in 2019? With a high price like that, it’s increasingly common to live with roommates in New York City to reduce monthly expenses. It’s also very likely that you’ll be sharing a small apartment. Unless you plan ahead, you might run into some roommate tension from cohabitating with little square footage to spare. But, living with a roommate can also be a fantastic experience, so long as you’re clear and upfront about your living style and work together to make the apartment habitable for both parties. Whether moving in with a friend, acquaintance, or significant other, here are a few ways to make cohabitation a smooth process with roommate ground rules and moving-in checklist:

Be Upfront About Living Style

Before you even make the decision to live with someone, be sure that your lifestyles are compatible, and when there are differences, that you’re both willing to respect each other’s living styles. We’ve all had terrible roommates, and setting expectations ahead of time is a great way to avoid conflict. Use these questions as a starting point, and ask them before you even sign a lease or agree to live together: 

  • What days and times do you need quiet in the apartment? And, what is your definition of quiet? (i.e.: no music/tv in common areas, visitors)
  • What do you do on the weekends? Are you home often? 
  • Do you work from home full or part-time? 
  • What is your cleanliness level? i.e.: long can dishes soak in the sink before cleaning? 
  • What is your tidy-ness level? i.e.: do you routinely straighten up your space?
  • Who will be responsible for taking out the trash and at what “full-ness” will it be taken out?  
  • Will we recycle/compost? Where will the recyclables be stored and who will be responsible for taking out the recycling?
  • How often will we clean and tidy up the apartment? Who will be responsible?
  • Can we use each other’s stuff? And, is asking permission required? How quickly will it be cleaned and returned?
  • Who will be responsible for coordinating the financial aspect of the apartment, like utilities and the internet? How will the other person payback for these costs? i.e.:Check, Venmo
  • What happens if something breaks? Who will replace it? 


While this is just a starting point, check out this website for several different types of checklists to help you have the best roommate experience. Then, develop some roommate ground rules to help keep the home running smoothly throughout your lease. 

Especially in college, this can be a challenge to sit down and have this conversation. Many are experiencing living away from home for the first time, and are still figuring out their living style. We’re here to help make that transition a little easier. If you’re a New York student, we offer a special discount at Simplify Storage to help you declutter your space or store items over the summer. Use code SCHOOLSOUT when you request storage. Plus, we have a handy list for college students to help you make the most of your dorm or apartment.

Eliminate Duplicate Items

Make a list of common items that you both own, like kitchenware, appliances, furniture, decor, rugs, and more. If you plan to store it in the common areas, you’ll want to cross-check for duplicates to ensure your home is decluttered and highly functional. Here’s a starting point for comparing items: 

  • Couches or chairs
  • Coffee table
  • Storage/shelving
  • Dining furniture
  • Barstools
  • TV and stand (and will it be in the common area?)
  • Lamps
  • Cooking supplies
  • Appliances
  • Bathroom accessories like shower curtain (if you will be sharing one bathroom) 
  • Decor (and where will it be displayed?) 

Moving to a new apartment or downsizing the space is a great time to sell, donate, or trash any possessions you no longer want. Be critical and discerning of everything from paperwork to furniture to eliminate anything you no longer want to move from apartment to apartment. To learn more about downsizing your possessions, click here

If you don’t want to completely get rid of some items, check out Simplify Storage. It’s among the most flexible and affordable services for New Yorkers to get excess clutter out of your home. Our service starts at just $30 a month for five spacious bins, and our team comes directly to your home or office to pick up and drop off your items. There’s no need to lug possessions through NYC or rent a truck! And the best part? There’s no time commitment or contract.

Set Aside Time for Cleaning

When you have a roommate, daily tasks can get overlooked easily. When you set an expectation of a quarterly deep clean, you and your roommate can feel better knowing that big cleaning tasks will be done at least quarterly. Plus, it won’t be so daunting to clean at the end of your lease and get back a security deposit. This is also a great time to re-evaluate the way that your space is currently functioning, like the furniture arrangement, ground rules, and more. Having these checks and cleaning sessions might be uncomfortable to propose to some roommates, but having them is a healthy way to ensure everyone is pulling their weight and that everyone feels comfortable at home. For a full spring cleaning checklist, click here.

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