Having just arrived home from study abroad, I was super nervous about moving into my new apartment. I had never met my roommates prior to arriving with all my boxes, and according to a quick investigation via Facebook the three were already good friends. Last year I lived with some of my closest friends and I was worried how I, a newbie, would fit into the apartment equation.
It's easy to feel out of place with roommates who already know each other, so here are some tips to help you adjust to being the new roomie:
Invite them out to lunch
It's not necessary to be best friends with your roommates. However, it is nice to know some details about their lives and figure out if you'll click. The best way to do that is simply by talking to them. Ask your new roommates if they want to have a roommate lunch to fill you in on who they are and what they're doing in life. It'll also signal to your roommates that you're sociable and friendly.
Ask them what items are for common use
It's really awkward to be alone in the apartment and want to cook something, only to realize you don't have the right pans. But wait, one of your roommates does. Would she mind if you borrowed it? Should you text her and ask?
Even though most people don't mind letting other people borrow their kitchen items, it's good to respect your roommates' boundaries by not assuming. Ask if there are any groceries that are shared among the roommates and if so, how you can pitch in for these items (milk, eggs, etc.) You might also have friendly roommates that say their closets are fair game. Knowing well before you desperately want to borrow something is a good idea.
Ask about the system for replacing common items
Some things are naturally shared among roommates. You aren't going to buy four sets of dishwashing detergent, or separate toilet paper rolls. So that you don't accidentally become a freeloader, ask if your roommates have a system to pitch in cash or if they rotate who buys these items.
Pay attention to their habits
It's kind of difficult to walk up to your new roommates and ask if they like to party or if they drink often without sounding awkward. But you should be able to quickly figure out their preferences within a few days. This will make it clear if they're okay with you having drinks in the apartment or bringing over friends at night.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask. It's better to be upfront than feel uncomfortable in your own home!
Ask which spaces are free to decorate
You might have some cute decor that you assumed would go into the living room or something like a floor lamp that you think would brighten up the dining space. Most apartments that are already occupied will be furnished with stuff from the other roommates.
If you have something you want to add, mention the item to the others and see if they need it or are okay with it being in the room. Most of the time they'll say yes, unless there really isn't room. Just don't barge in and start decorating without discussing it first - it's best to decorate common spaces as a group.
How have you handled being the new roommate?
Have you had to move into a new apartment in the middle of the year? How did it feel being a newcomer? Let me know in the comments!