How to be a good roommate — 10 rules to follow

Roomies for life

Two beds in white room with blue decorations
(Image credit: Dormify)

There’s no doubt about it — living with someone can be hard. Whether you’re randomly paired with a roommate or you move in with your best friend, sharing one space can really test your limits. Most people have vastly unique living styles when it comes to cleanliness, habits, and organization, making it hard to know what to let go of and what to stand up for. 

Being a good roommate can take a lot of patience and practice, but it’s a skill that will serve you well throughout many different phases of your life. Here, we’re outlining 10 rules that roommates should follow to respect one another and create a peaceful and well-functioning household.

1) Stay on top of your bills 

This one should go without saying, but it’s crucial that you stay on top of your bills, especially your portion of the rent (whether you have a roommate or not). However, it’s especially important that you stay on track when other people are involved. You wouldn’t want your roommate to leave you with a $300 utility bill, would you?  

2) Be mindful of noise 

Aside from paying rent and utilities in a timely manner, this might be the most important rule to follow when you’re living with other people. There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep or get some work done only to find your roommate making a ton of noise in the living room. Having a loud roommate can make your space feel uninviting, uncomfortable, and even triggering. Be respectful of the noise you make, particularly during the early morning and evening hours, as well as when you have guests over. This is also a great way to keep in with your landlord, and become a great tenant.

3) Clean up any mess you make 

No one likes coming home to a mess — especially one they didn’t even make. Keep things extra tidy in shared spaces, like the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. If you make a meal, be sure to wash and put away all of the dishes. If you have a movie night, take an extra few minutes to fluff the pillows, fold any throw blankets, and clear off the coffee table. Small acts like this will go a long way. Plus, they’ll make the space more inviting for you as well.  

4) Don’t leave your items strewn about 

Similarly to cleaning up after yourself, being a good roommate also requires that you’re mindful of how you’re taking up space. Try not to stash piles of mail on your kitchen counter or leave your toiletries all over the bathroom vanity. Put your personal items back where they belong so your roommate feels like they have a fair share of the apartment.  

5) Take turns with household chores 

Tackling chores can be tough when you’re living with a stranger, and it can be particularly challenging if you don’t see eye to eye on cleanliness. While conversations surrounding chores can feel awkward, they’re important to have so you and your roommate are on the same page as far as expectations go. Neither of you should feel like you’re pulling all the weight when it comes to chores, so creating set responsibilities for the apartment can help level the playing field. It may be helpful to create a roommate cleaning schedule so all the tasks are split up evenly.

6) Don’t use anything without asking 

Just like you never appreciated your sibling taking your stuff without asking, the same rule applies when you have a roommate. Living together doesn’t mean it’s a free for all when it comes to household items. If you run out of something or you find yourself in need of an ingredient, ask your roomie if you can borrow from their stash. This will keep things respectful, which is key for developing a healthy relationship. 

7) Keep your roommate in the loop on any gatherings 

Giving your roommate a head’s up that you’ll be having guests over is always the respectful route to take. Even if it’s last minute, shooting them a quick text to let them know will mean a lot. That way, your roomie can mentally prepare or make other plans if necessary.  

8) Make sure your room is clean 

Even though your bedroom isn’t a shared space, it’s still a common courtesy to keep your bedroom clean. Stay on top of washing your sheets, vacuuming, and taking out the trash so there aren’t any funky smells that come from your suite. Also, if you’re having an off week and you’re behind on picking up, simply shut your bedroom door so the chaos is concealed from your roommate and any of their guests.  

 9) Give your roommate some alone time 

If you come home to your roommate and see that they’re enjoying a Netflix marathon, know that they might not be up for a visitor. The same goes for when they’re cooking a meal or hosting friends. Try to give them some space to enjoy the apartment. You don’t have to spend every moment together in order to be friendly roommates. In fact, having time apart might be exactly what you both need to be closer. 

10) Don’t take over any one area in the house 

While you should feel comfortable and at home in your apartment, keep in mind that you’re splitting the floor plan with your roommate. Don’t spend hours on end hogging the bathroom and don’t set up a work from home station in your living room. The apartment should be equally shared so you both feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. Your bedroom is the spot that should be solely dedicated to you and your needs — everywhere else should be happily shared. 

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including,,, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.