How to Be a Good Roommate

A helpful guide to making the most of your Roommate relationship

LIVING with someone is completely different than just hanging out online, on the phone or even in person with someone. You have to keep an open mind and be prepared for someone who might do and think things differently from you. An integral part of your college experience is learning to get along with all types of people, especially your room or suitemate. 

Communication is key in building strong roommate relationships. Residents are encouraged to complete room/suitemate agreements (see below) designed to help room/suitemates discuss and come to agreement on expectations for one another, relationships, guests, use of belongings and other issues. If you and your room/suitemate are having difficulties, contact your student staff member or Hall Coordinator for help mediating the conflict.  Dealing with conflict early will promote stronger relationships and decrease frustrations between room/suitemates.


Plan Ahead

If you're an incoming student, you are probably pretty nervous about the roommate situation. You might even decide to find a roommate ahead of time instead of letting our community process pair you with a random roommate with similar interests. See our Roommates page for incoming students to learn more about what you should look for in a roommate to help you both find the space you want and also help you get along.

Remember, it's ok to have a random roommate - most students do. If you're worried about what that might be like, check out our Roommate stories to hear how it worked out for current Mizzou students to be paired with a random roommate.


Questions to Ask Your Prospective Roommate

We've created this list of useful questions you can use while getting to know your new roommate. Also, roommate contracts or suitemate contracts are a good way to make sure everyone is on the same page from the very beginning.


Resolving Conflict

Roommate conflicts are normal - everyone has them.Starting college can be pretty overwhelming no matter how well you prepare. From living on campus to studying for exams to exploring the many activities offered at MU, there's sure to be a lot on your mind. Worrying about your new roommate should not be. Sure it might seem overwhelming at first, having to share a room that's smaller than the one you're leaving at home, with someone that you've probably never met, but it really can be an enjoyable experience if you let it. Here are a few guidelines to help you approach your new living arrangements with the right attitude and make the best of your experience on campus.

Roommate relationships begin first and foremost with the choices YOU make. Regardless of how similar or dissimilar you and your new roommate may be, you hold the power to make your living situation successful. See our awesome "How to be a Good Roommate" video above for some great examples and solid advice on getting along with just about anyone.


Useful Tips on Handling Conflict

In addition to the great tips in our roommates video, we've compiled a list of useful tips for avoiding, handling, and resolving roommate conflict if you find yourself already in a difficult situation:

  • You have to make the decision to get along or not. That is the first step. If you can't make the decision to get along, all of the advice in the entire world will be useless when a conflict arises. So, open up your mind and prepare for a new experience. Make the best of your living situation and experience campus living with a fresh start. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it!

  • Share the space. Many incoming freshman have never shared a living space before and are used to having things their own way, when it comes to their living environment. It is imperative that you acknowledge how important it is to know and respect your roommate, just as you would like he/she to respect you. He/she is working to share the space, just like you are. So, be respectful of your roommate's belongings and area of the room and try to work out a living arrangement that is suitable for both roommates.

  • Ask questions. A good way for you and your new roommate to get to know one another is to simply ask questions. Of course, this might seem somewhat intrusive and uncomfortable at first, but in the long run you'll see that doing so proves worthwhile. To get you started, try sampling the questions on the attached sheet. (Social media sites are also good ways to informally get to know and talk to one another before actually moving in together, but don't judge first and only based on these sites).

  • Acknowledge your differences and similarities in the beginning and don't be afraid to speak up. This is the time to lay it all out. Maintaining open communication is imperative. Establishing the similarities and differences in your living styles, habits, and interests is the basis for creating an enjoyable living environment.

  • Lay down the rules beforehand and no one gets hurt. Create some ground rules from the start and don't be afraid to speak up for yourself. When developing friendships people generally try to be extra considerate, but as the newness wears off of being roommates, it is important to have a mutual understanding of one another. So, speak up from the start and don't just find a compromise. Collaborate and devise a living plan to suit you both. Coordinate your lives to avoid irritating one another.

    Creating some guidelines in the beginning will be much easier than doing so after you have already developed a relationship with your roommate. It becomes much more difficult to give your opinion and state your views without the possibility of offending your roommate the longer you wait. So, agree on some basic rules in the beginning and save yourselves an argument later on. Feel free to refer back to them periodically and make modifications if necessary.

  • Regardless of how close you and your new roommate may become and how well you prepare to live with one another, conflict will arise, even if your roommate is your best friend from high school. Conflict is perfectly normal, but knowing how to deal with the conflict can sometimes feel like a pretty challenging task. When a conflict does surface, you have yet another choice to make. You can choose to constructively confront the situation(s) at hand or you can choose to ignore it. In general, ignoring a problem often makes the problem worse and it doesn't really seem to just disappear like we might hope for, so try to work it out as best you can.

  • Try to devise a conflict resolution plan. Decide together how you will confront one another if an issue does come up, so when it does you will feel comfortable in discussing. Set up a meeting in a neutral place rather than diving into immediate confrontation and be very straight forward. Say "When you do X in situation Y, I feel Z." Be honest about your needs, thoughts, and feelings. If you find that you just need space away from one another, try making the room unavailable at certain times, get involved in the activities on campus and develop a life away from your room. This will not only give you and your roommate time apart, but will help you to meet other people as well.

  • Student Staff is there to help. Not every conflict can be solved without outside advice. So if all else fails, don't be afraid to involve your Community or Peer Advisor and take advice from an unbiased third party. That's what they're there for.

If you find that a solution cannot be reached between you and your roommate, you do have the option of moving to another room or even another hall. This process does not happen overnight though, so it is in your best interest to try and work things out.