Before you graduate college you should probably know…

Kelly Skahan

Most likely, you’ve been living with a roommate since the beginning of freshman year. You’ve navigated the perils of a suddenly miniscule living area, learned how to cook in a microwave, argued over cleaning duties and avoided awkward situations with the opposite sex. Plainly put, it’s safe to assume you’re well-versed in the etiquette of college living.

Living with a roommate after college, however, is an entirely different ballgame. It’s possible you’ll luck out and live with someone you already know: a sibling, a friend from high school or even someone you roomed with already in college. Since you’re already close enough with this person to be comfortable living with him or her, you roommate may be a big help in the adjustment to life in the real world.

Many graduates, however, end up living with total strangers. The marketplace on Facebook, apartment listings on Craigslist and classified advertisements in papers and online are chock full of people looking for roommates with few qualifying factors other than an age range and a smoking preference.

Though this is, in fact, the way Villanova assigns roommates for freshman year, don’t expect the situation to be similar. After graduation, rent, utilities, room sizes and other financial issues come into play with a person you’ve hardly met, and a disagreement often leaves one roommate footing the bill and another looking for a new place to live. Though you obviously don’t have to be instant friends with someone you’ve just met, it’s important to have a sit-down and determine how expenses will be split, who will pay for which utilities and how you plan to handle one roommate’s eventual departure.

Another important thing to remember is that you are not in college anymore. Coming home after a night of partying will pass every now and then, but frequently returning late likely won’t go over well in your new living situation. Your roommate’s schedule, job, relationship status and even sleeping habits will affect when it is and isn’t acceptable to go out, bring people home or have overnight guests, and these are all things you’ll need to discuss in advance. After graduation, there is no RA to facilitate this sort of conversation or draw up a roommate contract; both renters, then, will have to be mature enough to come to an agreement and honor it.

As far as cleaning duties and decorating, keep in mind that you are not answering to Residence Life anymore. Instead, you’ll have a building superintendent charging you for the walls you filled with nails. Agree from the start to be a unit when it comes to dealing with your landlord or superintendent; if there’s an issue with the plumbing, a change in your rent or a charge you want to dispute with the management, work in solidarity with your roommate. Even when damage to the apartment is not your fault, it’s much easier to back up your roommate and settle the issue in private than to make a scene in front of your landlord.

It’s better to have an ally at home than suck up to the landlord; in the long run, it’s not the landlord you’re living with.