Living alone has major perks, but it’s usually not the most affordable option. Opting for a roommate can give you a nicer, more spacious apartment, and it will significantly bring down your portion of the cost. Here are five tips for peaceful cohabitation with a roommate.

1. Set ground rules.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve known your roommate for two decades or you just met two weeks ago. It’s important to set ground rules for your living arrangement. Don’t forget to cover topics such as pets, cleanliness, chores, schedules, and guest preferences.

2. Respect her schedule.
She might be on a completely different schedule than you if she works at a restaurant and you’re working a 9-5 office job. Try to be mindful of her sleep schedule, especially when you want to invite friends over or watch a movie with surround sound. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, but you should be as courteous as possible.

3. Determine who will pay for what.
It’s important to establish a payment plan right away to prevent any resentful or negative feelings. If one bedroom is larger than the other or contains a luxurious master bathroom, the rent for that room might be more. But if that’s not the case, it’s generally a 50/50 split. After you figure out how much each person will pay, you need to figure out how to divide utilities and groceries.

4. Don’t use her things without asking.
It’s disrespectful to use her things without asking, even if she’s your best friend. Be courteous, and give her a heads up that you need to use her hair dryer or laundry detergent. She might be perfectly fine with a “what’s yours is mine” rule, but it’s better to ask first.

5. Be courteous about guests.
It’s normal to want to invite your friends over to hang out or watch a movie, but you should always okay it with your roommate first. This is true even if you share a lot of friends. If your roommate had a bad day at work and is looking forward to a quiet night on the couch, she might be upset to find a living room packed with energetic people. To avoid this type of situation, communicate your needs, and always be willing to compromise.

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