Roommates are a good idea to help share the cost of living. It is also nice to come home to someone or some people. Living by yourself can be boring and so many kinds of depressing. Roommates come in handy in situations where the houses available in the preferred neighborhood are too big for one person and therefore probably too expensive. Like every other relationship, all parties should put in the work to ensure the relationship remains strong and mutually beneficial. As long as you are smart about everything from picking the roommates to setting up proper living arrangements, everything should work out properly. Below are a few tips for living with roommates in Nairobi.
Without rules we might as well be animals. The minute you think that you can get by in a house with another person without rules is the minute you set yourself up for failure and a mess. Lay out the house rules right from the get go. No roommate situation should begin without either party knowing what the other’s boundaries are. Sit down and draft rules. Since everyone is an adult, it should be pretty easy to follow rules that someone has been a party to creation. If you do not feel confident that the rules will be followed without incident, go ahead and set penalties. A penalty jar for example where you put money as atonement infractions.
The pillar of every relationship regardless of the kind is communication. Be it between parents and their children, lovers, boss and employees or roommates. People must communicate. If you feel someone is stepping on your toes, you do not go ahead and step on theirs intentionally. You talk to them and let them know something does not sit well with you. Talk to each other. Understand each other. Some great and wonderful lifelong friendships have borne out of rooming together.
Be considerate of your roommates. If a roommate does not like it when you smoke cigarettes in the house then do not do it. It might not be in the rules but if it makes one roommate uncomfortable then consider the situation from their side and stop. It is a basic rule of humanity to be thoughtful of the other person. Here is a little incentive, if you try too hard to annoy this person with whom you are in close quarters. They may snap. They also know where you sleep.
Have a sit down every year or whatever period you agree on and talk about the roommate situation. Is it dysfunctional or just fine? Does it need more work? Do you need to amend the rules? Is it best to terminate now before blood is shed? Would you like to add another roommate to the mix? This is not necessarily a meeting to run a diagnostic test on the relationship because it may be going great. Doing great does not mean the work stops. You can always do better. So, if you can have a better roommate relationship then why not take the time to discuss how to achieve that?
Pay your rent when you are supposed to. Address issues as soon as they are brought up. If you promise to change a certain behavior then do it promptly. Delaying on things like rent and other responsibilities communicates several things. The first, it communicates that you are unreliable as a roommate. It also says that you do not care whether the roommate relationship lives or dies. It also shows a lack of respect for your roommate. Speaking of which…
This should go without saying but respect people. Your roommate shares a very intimate and sacred space with you. Accord them the respect they deserve. You may not be as fun to put up with as you think. If they have boundaries, remain on the right side of them. If they have concerns, listen and work together to find a solution. Respect their property. Some people do not mind sharing but ask before you help yourself anyway.
The day you like absolutely everything about a person double check because you might looking in the mirror. Even then, you might find one or two things you would like to change about the person in the mirror. Therefore, if you find a roommate you like. Someone who is respectful and checks most of the boxes on your list then proceed. As long as this person is not a serial killer or lacking some other essential quality then it is okay to settle. If their worst infraction is using the non-word ‘irregardless’ then you can live with it.
Be very smart about money. Be very transparent. Be accountable. Be fair. If you share cooking duties then it is only right that you share the cost of groceries. It is also right that you split the power bill. This is of course unless one of you is running a mill in their room then they should definitely shoulder most of that bill. That said, do not be wasteful with the utilities and other things around the house just because you have someone to share the bills with.
Where will you find these roommates? Are you comfortable finding a roommate online? If you do find roommates, will they be hurt if you leave your room locked? If the roommate is a stranger, that is not a friend or relative, then definitely leave your room locked. At least until you feel like you can trust them. Get all their information. If possible ask them for guarantors or referees. People who can assure you that this person will not rock up to your room at night and stick a knife in your back.
Everyone should have their own copy of the house keys. There should also be an extra copy to be left in the care of a mutual friend. Always carry your keys with you.
Be a good roommate first then maybe the roommates will also be good to you. Happy rooming!