Making the decision to live with friends in a house or apartment is a big step for college students and can ultimately be a great experience, provided there are some ground rules in place.  We’ve rounded up some great tips and advice here to help students navigate through some of the challenges of living with a group.



As in most relationships, a strong foundation of honest communication helps a lot to prevent problems.  Each member of the household should be able to talk about things that might be bothering them and allow the group to discuss together in order to find the best resolution.  It is important to remember that people can’t read minds and are not always great at seeing the signs that someone might be upset.  If you don’t talk about it, there is a good chance that the problem will only get worse.  A weekly meeting to talk about anything that may have come up over the previous days is a good avenue to do this.  You could also plan a shared cooking night for this as well and dig into discussing issues while enjoying your meal together.


Even when you are housing with close friends (and even family), remember to be courteous and respectful and allow everyone to have space when they need it.  Setting boundaries is an important part of getting along.  A private room is one area that each housemate should have as their own private space.  Remember to knock at someone’s room and wait to be asked to enter.  If someone is upset, offer to help, but don’t pry.  Let them share with you when they are ready.  If you are sharing a bedroom, plan on not being around for a while if you can so that your roommate can have some private time to themselves.  Similarly, your roommate can do this for you as well.  


Don’t let financial issues become a problem.  If you are responsible for a portion of the monthly rent, make sure you pay on time. Some housemates will plan meals together and will share the cost for ingredients for the week.  Items that are not being shared can be paid for by each individual and should remain off-limits to others.  Split out your refrigerator and freezer space to make it easy for people to know what items they have access to and what items are specific to a housemate.  


Take responsibility for your share of the cleaning and maintenance tasks.  If you are taking turns each week with different chores, make sure you keep up with your work. Have a process in place if someone might be slacking on their workload – maybe ask if they would like to switch weeks if they are having a busy week, or schedule a time on a Saturday morning where everyone works on their tasks together with some fun music.  In a shared household, everyone has to pull their own weight a bit. If you see dishes that need to be washed, do the dishes.  If you use dishes for your meal, wash the pots and pans and any other dishes you used.  Set the example and in most instances others will follow your lead and do the same.


Wear headphones for listening to music or watching a movie unless you are doing this as a group activity.  This is helpful also for any designated study time that you set during the evening hours so that everyone can focus on their schoolwork and assignments without disturbance.  


Remember to lock the door.  This simple act makes sure that all of your belongings and the property of all your housemates remain protected.  In addition, this is an important basic safety practice as well.  Going hand in hand with this is to remember to take your keys so that you don’t have to disturb anyone when you return to let you in.  

Rules for Guests

Be considerate when you have guests over.  Remember, you are sharing your living space with other people – each of whom is paying for that space.  Guests should be considerate of others as well and should be sure to not spend all their time at your house or apartment.  They need to be respectful of other people’s space, property, food, etc.  If they are a good fit with your group, perhaps you can consider adding them to your housing lease the following semester or year.  


Getting along well with other people in your household is likely one of the most important things you can do to make your shared living experience a positive one.  Keep those lines of communication open, address any issues as quickly as possible to resolve them, and be respectful and considerate.  These simple things can provide a strong foundation for experiences in the future.  If you are a college student at either SUNY Oneonta or Hartwick College, consider for your off campus housing needs.  View our available properties with a 3D Virtual tour at or call us at 607-434-5438 for an appointment to visit our house and apartment options in person!