I can't imagine living in a world where someone jumps with joy at the idea of finding a roommate as an adult. Sure, it's become expected and a lot more visible than ever before. Across the country 30 percent of adults between the ages of 23 and 65 were living in “doubled-up households” in 2017. The term “doubled-up” refers to a home in which two or more adults (not counting spouses or partners) live in the same home. Research conducted by Zillow shows that number is up eight percentage points since 2000, the largest number of adults co-habitating since 1990. The cost of living plays a huge part in that consideration. In fact, Forbes reports that as millennials entered the labor market during or after the Great Recession, they received lower wages and experienced higher rates of unemployment than their older counterparts.
Naturally, smaller cities have seen less of an impact by this popular trend. New York City and Los Angeles, the country's two largest cities, have seen a significant increase in folks living together. Both cities host an average rent cost that exceeds $2,300 a month. The struggle is real.
Roommating as an adult millennial really is as difficult as it seems. I don't think it's something we take enough time preparing for, and if you've attended college, you know how much preparation we lack. I can remember the elders in my family always saying that two grown people can't live together, and it took me becoming an adult, with a roommate, to understand just how true that sentiment is.
I moved to Los Angeles eight months ago. My best friend from college has been here for four years, so when we talked about the idea of my relocating to a bigger city, she just as easily extended me the offer to move in with her. Neither of us thought of much hesitation. We've known each other for twelve years, we've become like family and I felt we each had a pretty good gauge on the other's quirks. Living with someone changes everything. She’s a girl; I'm a guy. We have two completely different living styles. I'm tidy, and I like having my own space, while she's boisterous, expressive and less tidy. You definitely want to consider those small things, the things you like or dislike about your roomie, because they really do shape the outcome of the entire experience.
Our friendship has also protected our leasing agreement, but a lot of people don’t have the luxury of being picky with a roommate. Here are three tips to get the most out of rooming as adults in the least amount of time.
1.Be assertive with communication.
More often than not we do things without realizing how they may impact others. Your roommate may not notice that you prefer they not sign into your MacBook and work from home or eat the last of your Cap’n Crunch cereal until you sit down and actually tell them. It is worth having the conversation. Something as small as a courtesy text message can relieve a tense situation.
2. Common areas need common sense.
The kitchen, living room and bathroom are probably the most important spaces in a house. They say a lot about a person, and the last thing anyone wants is for someone to use their restroom and tell others that it isn’t clean. You should be considerate with the spaces you share with others, and set standards for how they should be used. If your roommate is sitting at the kitchen table with AirPods in enjoying Netflix, it's probably not the best time for you to blast the speakers singing "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" while preparing your dinner.
3. Boundaries are required.
Too many people hear "boundary" and get defensive, but boundaries are necessary for adulting. It is so important to be clear on what you think and feel about your own space and how you see the world. Once you get to know someone, take the time to set boundaries and decide how you would like them to fit into your world.You may have to actually tell your roomie that you would prefer them to knock before entering closed doors.
These are tips that I have picked up along the way, and they may or may not be a result of my current living situation, but I am no expert on the subject. Like any other aspect of life, learning to live with people is an experience. You’re in a position to grow if you're open to communicating and have decent interpersonal relationship skills. At some point, though, you definitely want to have an exit strategy.