Having roommates can sometimes be a challenging experience, and many people experience problems when living with others. It is common to have problems with roommates regarding noise, food, and space. It can be said, though, that nearly all of these issues are based on the lack of consideration of one roommate for another.
Generally, consideration is a quality in people that either does, or does not, come intuitively. In other words, considerate people usually have consideration for others simply because it seems like the best the thing to do. On the other hand, people who are inconsiderate of others usually don't think of themselves as such, and it can be hard to explain to these people that they are acting in an inconsiderate manner. Lack of consideration on the part of one or more roommates can cause major upset in the ambiance of a household.
One of the most common problems with roommates has to do with space. In the shared areas of the household, problems can arise in terms of how much space one or another roommate claims for himself. For example, if there are three roommates, and three shelves in the bathroom, it would make sense that each roommate would keep his things on one shelf. A roommate who is inconsiderate will spread his things all over and leave no space for the others. This kind of space issue is often repeated in the refrigerator, the pantry, and other areas where each roommate needs an equal amount of space.
This brings up another common problems: sharing items purchased for personal use. Whereas roommates may share the cost and use of things such as dishes and electronic devices, there are certain things that roommates may decide not to share, such as personal hygiene items and food. The level of rigidity in this may vary as well. For example, if one roommate has run out of shampoo, it doesn't do much harm to use another's for a day or two. If one roommate has run out of milk, he might use another's milk for his coffee, and buy more the next day. Problems arise when one roommate excessively uses the items purchased by others and does not offer to replace them, or uses the last of something that does not belong to him.
Another common problem with roommates is noise. If each person in the household has a different daily schedule, it can be hard to coordinate a time for noise and a time for quiet. For example, roommate A might get up early for work, and roommate B might work late. Roommate A will probably disturb roommate B in the morning while getting ready, and roommate B will likely disturb the sleeping roommate A when coming home to make dinner. One roommate may want to study, and the other may want to relax and watch television or play music. One roommate may have friends over for a drink when the other is sick and trying to rest.
This is where the concept of negotiation comes in very handy. A discussion is the best way to express one's issues with the actions of the other roommates, and to negotiate a system that is convenient for everyone. Although not all problems can be overcome easily, having discussions can sometimes prevent an issue from becoming a major point of tension in the household. For example, sometimes the solution to a problem with space is as simple as verbally expressing the obvious. Although it may seem intuitive to one roommate that each of the three roommates should use one of the three shelves in the bathroom, sometimes it is necessary to point out this logical idea verbally.
Negotiating times for activities that are noisy and another time for activities that require silence can greatly contribute to the ease and pleasure of living with roommates. Another solution for the issue of food sharing can be to make a list of the things all roommates use, such as salt, pepper, milk, cooking spray, and other things that everyone uses. After all, it might be a little silly to have three bottles of olive oil or three boxes of coffee filters. A common list of items can be bought with an equal contribution of money from each roommate. This activity may also help to clarify those items which are not for common use.