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Coexistence in Common Areas: How to Live With Multiple Roommates

Throughout your time at Boston College, you may live with one roommate, two, or even eight. And after braving cramped traditional-style housing during freshman year, you might have secured a coveted eight-man suite. Though the private bathrooms and large common room are beloved sophomore-year upgrades, living with seven roommates is also an infamously difficult transition. 

So, over the past week, I have taken note of what succeeds when living with multiple people. Though I am by no means an expert, I have a few pointers if this is also your first time sharing a living space with several roommates. 

Personalize Your Common Area

When you live with several people, your common area is the perfect place for socialization. To cultivate a common room where everyone wants to relax, I recommend carving out time with your roommates to design and decorate. My roommates and I bought cozy pillows, lighting, and beanbags, among other items. We then secured couch and chair covers to brighten the existing dorm decor and keep everything clean. You can also get some wall decor—like artwork, posters, or tapestries—to personalize your space. In my common room, we created a gallery wall out of art from each person’s hometown, which adds a touch of nostalgia. Just make sure you discuss the decor with all of your roommates so everyone agrees! 

Organize Your Kitchen

If you have a shared common space in your room, you will also have a kitchen or kitchenette. It’s often difficult to organize everyone’s food and kitchen appliances in such a compact space, so I recommend acquiring a shelving rack in the kitchen for extra storage. On your shelves, each person can receive a designated bin for their snacks, and you can place appliances next to these bins. In the refrigerator, you can use a permanent marker to mark which food is yours and avoid any confusion with your roommates. It’s also crucial to talk to your roommates and set clear boundaries about sharing food and appliances. 

Get a Shared Calendar 

Creating a shared calendar with your roommates is a streamlined way to keep track of special activities and dates. You can do this either physically or digitally. My roommates and I have a physical whiteboard in our kitchen where everyone writes their activities on a monthly schedule. We use colored markers and stickers to make our whiteboard pop against the blank wall. If you prefer to use a digital calendar, I recommend making a Google Calendar and sharing it with your roommates. My roommates and I put birthdays, football games, holidays, trips out of town, and any other important dates on our calendar, but you can set it up to suit your own needs. If you want to be super specific, you can even write everyone’s class and activity schedules. 

Have a Roommate Meeting 

On one of the first days we arrived in our room, my roommates and I sat down for a meeting where we chatted about guidelines. Though it may not seem like this is necessary right off the bat, it can be helpful to set up expectations before someone gets upset. I recommend discussing topics like having guests over, noise levels, bedtime, chores, etc. Having an early conversation about these issues is the best way to prevent future conflict and keep everyone on the same page. Most importantly, remember that everyone has their own ideas about roommate expectations and try to create an environment where each person feels comfortable voicing these ideas.  

August 31, 2023