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3 min read

Bringing in a New Roommate: Preparation Dos and Don’ts

When people ask how to prepare for a roommate, most of the time they’re thinking about things like rearranging furniture and cleaning out closets. Sure, those practical matters are important. Just as crucial, however, is being emotionally prepared for a new or first roommate.

If you’re not fully ready from an emotional perspective, that’s okay. Here are our biggest dos and don’ts to help you get your heart and mind in the right place.

Do: Expect to feel some anxiety and even sadness. 

Even if you’re excited about your new roommate, you’re bound to have some worries before they move in. Some people get hung up on concerns such as:

  • What if my roommate and I don't get along?
  • What do I do if my roommate doesn't clean?
  • What if my roommate doesn't respect my boundaries?
  • What if I'm a bad roommate?

You may also experience some sadness or even grief, especially if you miss the person you lived with before or you were really enjoying living alone. This is all normal, and it doesn’t mean you won’t have a good relationship with your new roomie. But if you are feeling overly burdened by these feelings, please seek support from a qualified mental health practitioner. 

Do: Practice gratitude and positivity about this new adventure.

Look for things to appreciate about your roommate and your new living situation. This doesn’t mean ignoring any anxiety or sadness that comes up. It means choosing to focus on the good, most of the time. 

Do: Declutter to create mental and emotional space—for yourself. 

The biggest secret about preparing for a new roommate is this: clearing out the clutter benefits you most of all. Stuff takes up mental and emotional space, just as much as physical. Decluttering will bring in new energy, lighten the atmosphere and free you up for this new chapter in your life. Enjoy it! 

Need some expert tips on cleaning and decluttering to prepare for a new roommate? Check out 6 Tips for Renting a Room: Cleaning For a New Roommate and How to Prepare for a Roommate: 5 Things People Forget to Do

Don’t: Buy a lot of new stuff for the life you imagine you’ll have.

With any new chapter in life, it’s tempting to think “this time, life will be different/better/healthier (etc.)” and start buying things for this imaginary new existence. (A homeowner we know envisioned a super-healthy life with her new roommate, and wanted to buy a huge glass water dispenser to make fruit-infused water.) To this sort of thing, we say “slow your roll.” Don’t invest in new organizational schemes, cleaning routines or decor items until your roommate moves in and you know more about your life together. 

Do: Accept that your roommate’s private space will be off-limits. 

If you haven’t lived with anyone for a while, this may be a tough adjustment—especially if your roommate’s space had a previous life that you’re attached to (e.g., the former bedroom of a now-adult child). As you get ready for your new roommate to move in, practice calling their space “[their name]’s room” instead of “my craft room” or “my daughter’s room.” If you need to, create another space in your home where you can see and touch some of the old furnishings or practice the craft you used to do in that area. And remember, the memories will always be with you, even as you’re making new ones with your roommate. 

Don’t: Expect your roommate to hang out in their room all the time.  

This is another one that can be tough for homeowners and others preparing for a first roommate. They’re going to be in your kitchen, living room, etc. pretty much anytime they want. If you want utter privacy, you’ll have to go to your private space or set off-limits times for certain spaces. But look on the bright side: now there’ll be someone to watch sitcoms and reality TV with, have coffee with and generally keep you company. It’s a tradeoff that pays off in more companionship and fun.  

Here are some helpful hints for building a strong connection: Five Ways to Bond with Your Over-50 Roommate.

The answer to “How can I have a better relationship with my roommate?” lies within. 

Attitude really is everything and, most of the time, we have the power to determine our attitudes. It may take a little work to let go of the past and embrace change, but it’s absolutely worth it. 

Still looking for your ideal roommate? Visit to explore and get started!

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