How to be a great roommate

How to be a good roommate. International student. Living abroad.

When you decide to move out, a common question is “who am I going to live with?” If you are living abroad, this situation can be challenging, especially because people have different backgrounds and their own notions about how they want to live. If you are thinking about sharing a place with roommates during your exchange program, check out these 5 tips to have a good experience:

1. Respect your roommates and the rules of the house

Having international roommates is quite an experience, as you may not speak the same language (literally). You will need to find a way to live with each other and to respect the common areas and each other’s private space. Agreeing on clear rules and boundaries and sticking with them is a good idea. This applies to food, clothes, other possessions, as well as when to invite friends over, cleaning responsibilities, and so on.

2. Do your chores and duties

Having a “chores board” or schedule with your names will keep you (and the house) organized. Keep in mind that if everyone else is responsible for performing their duties, so are you. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a clean freak, but don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight, or leave mountains of clothes all over the bedroom, especially if you share this space with a roommate.

3. Share the expenses

Since you are all living under the same roof, why not share some of the expenses? Establish an understanding on all aspects of the house finances, including rent, shared groceries, and maintenance fees. Make a list of all the products you all need to buy every month and take turns to buy them. In my house, we follow a calendar with what and when we need to buy certain products; for instance, toilet paper. As for things we don’t use as often, everyone agreed on buying their personal items. To continue to execute your game plan, you will need to have everything written down and verbally communicated. You need to keep an open communication with your roommates to make sure that everything is managed responsibly and that bills are paid on time.

4. Communicate

Say hello and goodbye, ask how their day was, and show interest in their lives. Getting to know the people you live with helps you to understand their perspectives, and allows them to understand yours. If a problem comes up, it’s better to talk about it right away than ignore it, as the issue might get worse. If you simply cannot communicate openly with your roommates and the environment is tense, you might consider looking for a new home and letting them know in advance in case you decide to move out. Who knows, you might become good friends once you don`t share the same roof.

5. Spend time together

Try to set a time at least once a week to hang out together. If your roommates are from a different country, this gives you an opportunity to learn about their cultures and traditions. While some people prefer living with people who only speak their native language, I rather have roommates with different backgrounds. Sharing some common interests will help you build a better relationship with them, go for a hike, grab a bite, catch a movie or just talk about your day, so you will appreciate even more the fact that you share the same space.


I hope you enjoyed this post! Follow me on instagram @michelleegt for my latest adventures.