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How to Be a Good Roommate

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Three key words to remember while living with another

How to Be a Good Roommate photo

The melodies notifying you that your laundry is dry and your dishes are clean ring like a relaxing chime. Although there are machines to empty, you feel in no rush because you’re on your own clock. That’s one beauty of living alone: You don’t have to worry about emptying a laundry machine, so your roommate can clean his or her week-old dirty garments. I’ve been living this way for two years.

Well, kind of.

Ever since attending college in the city, I convinced my parents to let me live in their city pad until my graduation. So, this time in my life is very bittersweet. I recently graduated from college, but I’ve been asked to vacate the premises by mid-May. I guess you could say I’m part of my parents’ spring cleaning.

In all honesty, I’m looking forward to moving out. I love seeing my parents when they come downtown on the weekends, but I can’t wait to have a place I can call my own.

Well, kind of.

I’m moving in with one of my dearest friends who I’ve known since birth – literally. I haven’t lived with someone for a while, so, naturally, I’m a bit nervous. Since I’ve been living alone, I haven’t had to worry about someone else’s needs. And I’ve heard the horror stories about best friends who become roommates and now they’re no longer speaking.

To avoid a friendship meltdown, I’ve compiled a list of words I want to live by during this very exciting adventure.


I read on one of my favorite career websites, The Muse, that you should immediately complete a task that would take you approximately 30 seconds. These tasks include washing dishes, taking out laundry from the washer and dryer and taking out the trash. By doing these small tasks, you’re – for one – doing your part as a respectful roommate, but you’re also acknowledging that your roommate has chores he or she needs to complete. There’s nothing worse than having a roommate who never takes out the trash or takes days to empty the laundry machine.  


Right now I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. According to the book – and, I’m paraphrasing – we believe that by bringing up every issue we have with someone, we’ll feel better. In fact, we’d feel better by doing the exact opposite. By focusing on the good in life, we feel good.

Your roommate might be doing something that’s frustrating you. He or she might be, for example, leaving his or her work projects everywhere on the kitchen table. You think he or she is being passive aggressive by leaving the area so dirty, but they might not know it’s even an issue. By politely asking your roommate, let’s say, if they don’t mind reorganizing their work before going to bed so you can eat your breakfast at the kitchen table, you avoid an argument over a misunderstanding.


This is the most important word to live by. You chose to live with this person because, hopefully, you have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company. Make sure to enjoy the time you have with your roommate because before you know it your lease will end. Take walks around your neighborhood to discover restaurants, parks, stores and markets. Spend a night on the couch eating takeout and having a drink while watching a movie or TV show you both love. By spending time together, you learn about each other and grow a bond that lasts past the lease date.

Now, all that’s left is a mezuzah!


Wear. Share. Repeat.

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Wear. Share. Repeat. photo

When spring rolls around, we all get that itch to clean, spruce and purge our clutter. I’m so busy these days, I scarcely have time to update my spring wardrobe, let alone clean out my already too-packed closet. When cleaning out our homes, our first instinct might be to donate clothes or household items to Goodwill, a local resale shop or another charity, which I often do when moving — donating tons of items in bulk. However, the task of cleaning out one’s place can be made easier with small cleanses every few months.

My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. I’m convinced her experiences somehow translated to how she raised my mother, who basically can’t throw away anything. This resulted in my mom’s insistence when I was young that I get use out of every article of clothing my older sisters outgrew. It has also resulted in a storage unit containing far too many of my sisters’ and my childhood relics. To this day, my mom can’t even bake without grabbing every granule of sugar dropped onto the counter while measuring.

While I find my mother’s baking habits endearing, she has also instilled in me an irrational fear of throwing away anything. The promise of good friends, cheap wine, and free loot in the form of a friends clothing swap, however, somehow temporarily shakes me out of my hoarder’s neurosis every few months.

I have a group of seven or eight girlfriends with whom I gather every couple months for a clothing swap. We alternate hosting at our various apartments, and much like with a book club, the host provides treats and wine. Each of us contributes a bag (or several) of items we want to swap, and we take turns auctioning off our old treasures for verbal dibs.

Admittedly, there are some heated debates over certain articles of clothing, but we all go home with tons of new things and some satisfaction that we’ve gotten rid of the old. Often, I end up going home with more than I got rid of, but at least they’re new items I’ll be wearing or using in the next few months. Older clothes, shoes, books, or movies aren’t helping me at all if I’m not using them. If I receive a new dress, pair of heels, sweater, or even a kitchen whisk that I really needed, at least it’s taking up space in my apartment with purpose.

Evidently, we don’t limit our swaps to clothes. We essentially bring anything we’re trying to get rid of, from jeans to evening gowns, as well as purses, coats, shoes, books, DVDs, music, kitchen utensils, electronics, and even strange items, such as jumper cables—my favorite latest score in our April swap.

As someone who hoards a bit, I actually find it really satisfying to give my beloved possessions to a beloved friend. Plus, it’s really fun fighting over new finds. Not to mention, members of our swap group unabashedly re-swap items once we’re tired of them, so I’m never stuck with something for too long if I don’t want it.

If you love a good bargain (and there’s no better bargain than “free”), or you just can’t part with all of your favorite clothes at once, I definitely recommend the clothing swap route. You can part with your oldies, but goodies, slowly and you get to hand them off to a great new home where you know they’ll be cherished and used.  

I don’t know where I’d be this spring without a bunch of new tops from my girlfriends –and those ever important jumper cables.

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