Although living alone may seem ideal, many schools will not offer single-person housing. In addition, you may actually save yourself a bunch of money by splitting your rent! While a roommate has the potential to become a very good friend, med school is hard, tension is high, competition is inevitable, and disastrous living situations are most definitely possible. Here are some tips to avoid living with slops, gunners, and debbie downers.
1. Ask the right questions: Most medical schools will allow you to complete a form asking you about your own living habits as well as your preferences in a roommate. This is not the time to be “accepting” or “chill.” As accepting as you may be of lifestyles that differ from your own, med school is not the time to have to deal with a roommate who plays music until 2 am or who leaves their dirty dishes in the sink (one day grace rule, obviously.). Also take into consideration that your lifestyle does not need to be exactly the same as a roommate’s, it just needs to be compatible. You like studying in the library while they’ll have their books splayed all over the dining room table? Perfect! You won’t step on each other’s toes.
2. Be proactive: Asking a person you barely know whom you found on your school’s Facebook group to live with you feels like you’re asking someone to go on a first date with you. Although it’s natural to be nervous about putting yourself out there, keep in mind that they likely don’t know anyone either and are eager to make friends. They’ll appreciate you reaching out!
3. Is an old friend joining you in school? It may be better to stay away: Although it’s tempting to live with your old childhood friend, or even a sibling or relative if they’re at the same school, keep in mind what you’ll be doing for the next 4 years: studying. I personally tend to take stress out on those who are closest to me and I know I’m not alone. Living with someone who you don’t know that well (yet) may encourage you to real it in a bit.
4. Consider your financial situation: Finances may not only affect rent-splitting but also may affect things like decorating your apartment, and day-to-day purchasing of things like cleaning products or cooking supplies. While you don’t need to be on the same exact financial page, a discussion about willingness to spend is always smart to have.
5. Are you a neat freak? It goes without saying that you shouldn’t live with someone who considers throwing their comforter on the bed “making the bed.” But there’s more to compatibility than that basic. Even “neater” people may have different takes on how often it is appropriate to do a sweep of the apartment. Talk about how often you intend to clean, or work out a schedule to keep both you and your roommate happy.
6. Love is in the air. Would it bother you to have your roommate’s significant other walking around all the time? How about hearing…more intimate things? There is nothing wrong with having a problem with unintentionally signing up for another roommate, but that is something you should let your future roomie know. Figure out if your their significant other is long-distance or has a nice apartment nearby and how that will affect your roommate’s whereabouts and wellbeing – adjust accordingly.
7. Consider living with a non-med: If you are going to school located in a big city or a school with several graduate programs, consider the fact that there are a plethora of other kinds of people to live with. Living with someone outside of your class will probably be more conducive to a calm home environment. Class can stay in class – you’ll still have plenty of time to meet your classmates and hang out with them if you want to do so.
Congrats, you’ve found the perfect roommate!