If you surveyed State College residents about what makes an effective roommate match in off campus housing near Penn State, some would say it’s luck (Craigslist ads); others would say it's a science of compatibility (roommate-matching services); while others would argue that the key is to be familiar with the people beforehand (friendships).
The second option seems preferable; the first too much of a gamble to be worthy of serious consideration; while the third option — living with friends — sounds fine but needs to be looked at further.
When students meet through roommate-matching, their compatibility is pretty much guaranteed. But what makes a strong friendship out in the world doesn't necessarily translate to a harmonious coexistence inside an apartment. Even best friends can have conflicting traits — early bird versus night oil, introvert versus extrovert — that impact whether they gel as roommates.
While personalities and habits determine compatibility, at least on a superficial level, these traits don’t tell the whole story of why roommates succeed or fail at living together. The difference-maker is whether roommates had a solid game plan before they moved in.
With the right plan for how to share housing, you can move into student apartments as friends and move out still as friends, or perhaps as better friends! But a lot of factors go into a good roommate plan, so begin yours sooner rather than later. Here are tips to help get you started.
Your friends are the people with whom you do activities outside of the home. But just because you all share an address now doesn’t mean anything should change. Make sure to still get together for social activities, whether in the apartment, at amenities on the grounds, or at the popular locales throughout State College.
Too much of a good thing, such as time with friends, can make you grow tired and resentful and even take your friends for granted. Respect the ratio of time you all spent together before becoming roommates after you move in together. Every person should have alone time available to them as needed. Fortunately, personal space isn't hard to achieve in student apartments near Penn State, as these feature private bedrooms.
Many friends who visit nearby dining spots, such as the American Ale House or the Penn State Berkey Creamery, are accustomed to splitting a check or divvying up an order. But food in the kitchen pantry requires clearer guidelines as to ownership. Few conflicts will disintegrate a friendship faster than one roommate eating the last poptart that belonged to another roommate. Labeling which food is for sharing and which is for individual use prevents misunderstandings over munchies. Another option is to designate a community pantry, to which everyone chips in a few dollars weekly to fill up with snacks. Meanwhile, each roommate also has his or her personal pantry.
Whether you're signing a housing contract or updating your student profile at Penn State, you're familiar with putting down emergency contact information. To be on the safe side, you should share that with your roommates. As friends, you probably have each other’s cell numbers, emails, and social media handles, but you could exchange ones for parents, siblings, and other close relations. Spare keys are also worth swapping. If you have a backup car or bike lock key, giving it to one of your trustworthy roommates could save you hundreds on locksmith services down the road.
One of the highlights to off campus apartments in State College is their well-organized trash and recycling programs. However, somebody has to carry that waste from the apartment to the designated drop-offs. Seemingly, in every roommate arrangement, there's a person with an acute sense of smell and one who could survive for weeks without taking out the garbage. This is just one example where a simple chore can become a contentious issue. Roommates could have similar disagreements over how often to run the dishwasher, straighten up the living room, or even clean out the lint trap in the dryer. The best solution is to distribute chores so that everybody has equal responsibility. Whether you make a plain chart or reinvent the chore wheel to fit your purposes, an organized chore system helps keep the apartment clean, improves the odds you'll get back the security deposit, and defuses most inter-roommate conflicts before they heat up.
Have a roommate who treats you like a busboy, always leaving his or her cups and dishes on the counter? You could grab a magic marker, write up a stern reminder, and tape it above the sink. But honestly, passive-aggressive approaches tend to create animosity more than inspire obedience. Instead, speak to the person in a direct but honest tone. Nobody wants to patronize or reprimand friends. In this case, though, you're roommates, and gentle reminders of house rules are just part of the business of living together.
The housing contract you sign to rent the apartment lays out all the rules of the community, from noise levels to guest policies, and parking rules to utility protocols. Why not draft a similar roommate agreement to outline the common expectations for the group? Hold a meeting, get everyone's input, and come up with a single document that everybody can abide. Have everyone affix their signatures, like your own Declaration of Independence, and proudly attach it to the fridge. Every time one of you sees it, that person is reminded of how they should behave at home.
It’s easy to observe how your roommates’s behavior makes you feel. What takes more effort is to analyze how your behavior affects them. You expect them to pick up after themselves, but are you doing the same? You ask them to keep the noise down while you're studying, but what about your noise levels when they're doing homework? A little introspection goes a long way toward creating harmony among roommates.
Whether you want to live alone, meet people through roommate-matching, or find an apartment that's roomy enough for you and your friends, The Station State College has off campus apartments to suit your lifestyle. Just minutes from the Penn State campus and everywhere else State College residents want to be, we offer student living at its best. Contact us to schedule a tour!