The cost of living in many American areas has skyrocketed, forcing more people than ever to choose a roommate as a means of affordable living. Whether you are a university student struggling to manage your loans, a young professional on a tight salary, or even a newly married spouse, co-habiting for the first time brings with it a unique set of complications, and the workers at Harrisburg’s Pennswood Apartments have witnessed them all. However, no one grows up alone, and even though the complications of a roommate can be different than the demands of family, they are equally manageable.
1) Be proactive in conflict management.
Many college dorms will have new roommates sign a roommate agreement, and while such a formal activity may not be necessary for young professionals, the spirit behind it is the right idea. Don’t walk into any living arrangement (especially if your roommate is a stranger) with the assumption that you both want the same things. Know who wants to party, who needs quiet time, and how much housework is expected from both parties; having a prearranged agreement on such topics helps roommates navigate any later conflicts of interest in a calmer, logical way.
2) Negotiate on neutral ground.
Holding arguments at the site of a sink full of dishes or room full of old laundry can simply add fuel to an angry roommate’s fire. Instead, arrange for the two of you to sit down in a neutral third space, such as a coffee shop. Not only will this remove the offending stimulus from view, but it will hopefully prevent either party from getting overheated and resorting to shouting.
3) Find a mediator.
Naturally, in a dispute both sides will want to present conflicting interests. Utilizing a mediator – perhaps a mutual acquaintance who won’t take sides – will allow both roommates to present their arguments for an equal amount of time, and a third party can view the grievance with clean eyes and present a previously-unseen solution. Professional mediators are also available, and often have settlement rates of 80% or higher – but their costly services may be out of reach to cash-strapped young roommates.
4) Avoid placing blame.
In a moment of anger, it is tempting to sling insults and place the blame for that trail of ants squarely on the shoulders of the roommate who left out last night’s pizza box. But inflaming the other party won’t lead to a compromise; instead of shouting about what your roommate has done wrong, explain how it makes you feel. For instance, “I’m afraid we’ll lose our security deposit if we don’t keep on top of the garbage” may be a more successful approach than “You never clean up after yourself.”
5) Be calm, yet comprehensible.
We have already learned that yelling and creating more anger won’t lead to a solution. But failing to properly articulate your concerns isn’t right either – allowing annoyances to pass unremarked upon will simply lead to increased resentment later on. To facilitate the best relationship, the landlords at Pennswood Apartments tell residents to consider setting a steady time (perhaps every other Sunday) to discuss how both parties feel about the current living arrangement and calmly settle any concerns that arise.
Pennswood Apartments provide private, peaceful apartments and townhouses to Harrisburg residents. The facility is conveniently located in a 45-acre park-like setting, equipped with all modern conveniences and renovated appliances.