You may want to find a roommate with whom you can share expenses in an apartment or house. Or perhaps you would like to rent a room from a local family. Thanks to the internet, it has become possible to network with other incoming students ahead of time and explore some of these options even before arriving in the U.S. Some schools also offer host family programs.
Before you move in with someone, whether a stranger, friend, classmate, or family member, you should agree to some specific ground rules. Putting these kinds of rules in writing will help make them official and give you a document you can refer to when either of you feel the need to reinforce the agreed-upon policies.
Sharing space with other people requires showing courtesy and compromise. If you have to share a bathroom or kitchen with others, you will do well to clean up after yourself. Be sure to discuss together how to schedule the time you each need to use common areas.
Some of the topics you discuss should include the following:
- How much rent and utilities (electricity, water, gas, garbage pick-up) will each person pay?
- What household chores will each person do?
- What are each person’s expectations for order, neatness and cleanliness?
- Are you more of an early-to-wake-up or late-to-go-to-bed person (especially if sharing a room)?
- Will you purchase food and cook together or separately?
- What are the kitchen rules?
- What hours are acceptable for having guests, playing music or watching television?
- What rules regarding alcohol and smoking will you have in the home?
- Will you share a landline telephone and an Internet service provider (ISP) or purchase separate telephones and services?
- How much advance notice should each individual give before moving out?