What’s a roommate meeting, you ask? If you’re living in the dorms, chances are good that you at least have one roommate, if not several. Whenever you combine spaces with another person, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into differences in lifestyle and preferences. For some roommates, this can be a frustrating, confusing landscape to navigate—what’s the best way to communicate about preferences and how do you come to a healthy agreement?

In order to avoid leaving each other passive-aggressive Post-It notes on the bathroom mirror, it’s a good idea to get expectations out on the table as soon as possible. This looks like a roommate meeting! Gathering together as roommates to talk about things like cleaning, visitors, and a variety of other things will help keep communication open and eliminate confusion. It might be a bit difficult to hold a roommate meeting before you actually move into your dorm room, as you might not be clear about the spaces you have and what will be required of you and your roommates from your R.A. However, try your best to schedule a meeting that everyone can attend as quickly as possible after you move in.

Making sure everyone can attend is a pretty essential part of a roommate meeting. It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone has some time to speak, say their piece, and give an opinion on how things should go. If you come across a topic that everyone seems split on, hold a vote. Once you all have made some decisions about different topics, write it all down as a sort of “roommate contract” so everyone’s on the same page.

There are a variety of categories that are helpful for roomies to discuss—taking each of these category by category can be a helpful way to run your roommate meeting:

Preferences about visitors can vary from person to person, so it’s a good idea to take several things into account. Does your college have any rules about visitors? How late can visitors come over? Can they stay overnight? How many visitors can you each have over at a time? Do you need to ask each other’s permission before having people over? 

It’s a good idea to let your roommates know if you’re going to have someone over—particularly if you will be using a shared common space or item, like the living room and the TV.

If you live in an apartment, you are more than likely paying rent. Is one person in charge of rent, and you all pay that person? What day does rent need to be to said person? Talk about the other bills you pay as well, like the Internet, electricity, and gas. Will you be splitting the cost of those? Will one person take care of doing the actual “paying” of the bills or will you distribute those tasks evenly?

This is generally one of the hotter topics when it comes to living with roommates. How will you handle cleaning? Will you have a chore chart that rotates? Will each person be in charge of a particular section of the apartment? Are there any repercussions or accountability if you don’t clean your assigned area? 

Which things will you all share? Will baking supplies or cleaning supplies be shared? Will you share appliances or will everyone have their own separate mini-fridge? Who is in charge of buying things like toilet paper and paper towels?

Quiet Hours:
Depending on schedules and habits, you might have vastly different ideas of what’s late and what’s early compared to your roommate. Discussing how quiet you have to be during certain times can be really helpful. Can you play music while you get ready in the morning? Is there a certain time of night when the TV needs to be on low or off? Are there any other times when you should be quiet—like when one of you is studying?

All in all, having roommates is a great opportunity to show love in a tangible way and lay down your preferences. It’s easy to cling to selfishness and try and steer things in your favor. It’s certainly healthy to uphold boundaries, but there are times it’s truly loving to do things your roommates’ way now and then.