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Realistic Rules Even The Worst Roommates Can Follow

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I’ve lived with roommates since I first moved out of my parent’s house six years ago, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of trouble with shared living, but I can definitely say the good experiences have outweighed the bad.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout my sharing is no matter how firmly you set house rules, schedules, and chore rotations, after living together for awhile, your rules are going to morph. Over time, this rigid list will become a loose set of rules you ‘attempt’ to adhere to. Here’s how this tends to go.

Original Rule

All dishes, cutlery, utensils, pots and pans must be cleaned, dried, and put away within an hour of being used.

Realistic Rule

All dishes, cutlery, utensils, pots and pans must be cleaned with a 12-hour period. Once cleaned, all items are to be left on the drying rack for an undetermined time length, introducing the world’s worst game of Jenga. Of course there are exceptions to this 12-hour rule e.g. if either party is on a weekend rager, or has made a drunken snack in the late/early hours and is too hungover to be near the sink the following day.

Original Rule

The TV scenario is managed on a first come, first serve basis. Roommates must respect each other’s choices, however, they are not required to watch with you and are free to leave or engage in other activities providing such activities do not cause interference with the viewers watching.

Realistic Rule

All parties will commit to a never-ending fight over Netflix, continually crashing each others streaming. This in turn, allows for exposure to new shows and movies - broadening horizons if you will. Note: priorities will come into play for whatever household that may be e.g. sports enthusiasts will give priority to sports.

Original Rule

If a roommate is working/studying from home, they are not to be disturbed under any circumstances (emergencies and such are exempt from this rule).

Realistic Rule

If a roommate is working/studying from home, they are not to be disturbed unless others feel that something is of greater importance than working/studying e.g. this insane winning replay on Fortnite - which, inevitably spirals into hours of playing Fortnite.

Original Rule

If any roommate wishes to host a party in the apartment, they must first gain approval from all others parties no less than a week in advance.

Realistic Rule

Unplanned parties may break out on occasion. Maybe a roommate was at brunch and things escalated into a day of dartying. It’s possible that a roommate had a few too many drinks at the office happy hour and invited the entire office back to the apartment. Such is life. If this transpires on the weekend, roommates are not allowed to bitch about it, but they also have no obligation to help set up/clean up the apartment. Any roommate seen to be a buzzkill at such events will be peer pressured into having fun (because deep down they really want to).

Original Rule

An official chore/purchases list will be kept in the apartment to ensure everyone is held accountable for their work/spending (or lack of) to prevent the same person cleaning the common areas and buying supplies.

Realistic Rules

When the apartment becomes too dirty for the roommate with the lowest tolerance level for dirt and messiness, they will address the state of the house and declare it time to clean. Other parties are required to clean to the satisfaction of said roommate within a reasonable time period (generally a few days), but are allowed to bitch about it the entire time. One individual must also be nominated to go to the store when communal goods are depleted to replenish said goods and send Venmo requests to the other parties.

Original Rule

If roommates have different work schedules, they can outline some hours of quiet times (within the hours of 10pm and 10am) that must be adhered to by all other members of the apartment.

Realistic Rule

If the roommate that works at a bar gets in at 4am and is hella loud whilst drunkenly stumbling around the apartment, roommates that have to be up at a reasonable hour are encouraged to tell them to shut up. The next day, roommates are also permitted to be as loud as possible when getting ready and leaving for work. Over time, this conditioning will breed best practice, preventing a similar situation from arising in the future (theoretically speaking).

Original Rule

If you’re having sex, mask the noise with music and where possible, try to keep the noise down to a minimum (within reason of course). There is also a strict no sex policy in place when it comes to the common areas.

Realistic Rule

If you’re having sex, mask the noise with music and where possible, try and keep the noise down to a reasonable amount. If other roommates can clearly hear you, they reserve the right to yell inappropriate things at you from the common area. Also, everyone knows roommates do it in the shower, but please be respectful. People keep their loofahs in there, you animals.

Original Rule

All roommates are responsible for taking out the trash when it fills up/begins to smell, whichever comes first.

Realistic Rule

All roommates are responsible for taking out the trash when it fills up/begins to smell, whichever comes first. Seriously. Josh, I’m talking to you. This is how we get flies. Take the f*cking trash out.


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