Living with other people is not an easy thing. Even if you’ve shared your living space in the past, trying to balance your school and work life with the intricacies of keeping the peace with roommates is tricky. Following a few simple tips might just save you from the headache and awkwardness of feuding with your roommates.

1) Talk it out

Communication is key in any situation, but especially when sharing a living space with one or multiple other people. It is very wise to sit down and lay down your expectations and listen to those of your roommates when you first move in together. That way everyone is fully aware of each other’s wishes. It might even be a good idea for everyone to write things down just so everything you all agree upon is documented.

Communication isn’t just important when you move in, but also the entire time you and your roommates are living together. If an issue arises, talk it through and try to come up with a resolution. Having tension go unsaid can really damage your relationship with your roommates in the long run and will likely cause even more issues to pop up.

Sharing a space with people links you and them together, but that doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. In fact, you may not see each other outside of your living space. With that being said, keeping an open line of dialogue is crucial. You should be able to feel comfortable bringing up issues you have with your roommates and they should feel comfortable talking to you.

2) Respect one another

Much like communication, respect is HUGE when it comes to any situation, including sharing rooms with other people. Respect comes in many forms and it is massively important to be constantly aware of how you are respecting those you live with. You should also be conscious of how your roommates are respecting you and your space.

Say your roommate has a huge test in the morning. It would not be respectful for you to have a ton of friends over for a loud party that lasts into the night. Like yourself, your roommates are struggling to balance their school, work and social lives. Being unnecessarily disruptive of that is incredibly disrespectful and will likely cause a rift in your relationship. If you don’t want to be kept awake by a blaring party when you’re trying to sleep, it would be wise not to put your roommates in that situation.

Some other ways you can respect your roommates include cleaning up after yourself, keeping your belongings organized, and doing your agreed upon chores. Staying on top of all of these things really assures conflict doesn’t arise over such miniscule issues. It’s always good to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if your roommate didn’t clean their dishes or left trash all over the counters?

3) Realize that disagreements are going to happen

When you have two or multiple people living together, peace is not going to be possible 100% of the time…and that’s okay. You’re human and so are your roommates. People fight, but the most important thing is to find a way back from the fight to return to a place of relative peace.

As noted, communication is undeniably important. Something else that is important is space. After a conflict happens, allowing everyone time to cool off is a smart play so that everyone can collect their thoughts and calm down. Rushing into a discussion immediately a conflict arises might just result in a talk devolving into an actual fight.

Space is something that is also important outside of conflict management. Your shared living space should be viewed as a place of sanctuary and respite from the stress of the outside world. If you’ve had a long day at school or work, returning to your room and being alone might be the best thing in the world to you. The same is likely true for your roommates, so it is important to give them the space to decompress after a long day.

Living with other people is going to be stressful, awkward and even exhausting at times. It can also be incredibly rewarding and may allow you to forge some of your most cherished relationships that can last a lifetime. Problems are going to come up, but knowing how to handle them can save you the headache of unnecessary tension existing between you and your roommates until the time you move out. These tips aren’t an exact science and each situation is different, but taking a few steps such as these will benefit you in the long run.

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