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5 tips for dealing with difficult roommates

December 16, 2022 | By Roomrs


Living with roommates is an excellent, cost-efficient way for saving on rent in New York City. Despite ranking as one of the most expensive cities in the world, thousands seek their next adventure in the empire state.


Finding compatible roommates is surprisingly tough in a city of eight million; almost everyone has a horror story of their own to share. Having a difficult roommate is almost a rite of passage when setting out on your own, but it doesn’t have to be.  


Most roommate conflicts are born of a misunderstanding or lack in communication. If you find yourself in a tough spot with your roommates, it’s important to be respectful, communicative, and clear when finding a solution that works for everyone. 


Everyone in New York is on an adventure; navigate yours smoothly with our five tips for dealing with difficult roommates. 


Create house rules as soon as possible

The first month of joining an apartment (or creating a new one) is critical to how relationships develop over the life of the lease. 


After everyone settles in, call for a quick roommate meeting. Discuss and lay the boundaries of what everyone is and isn’t comfortable with. 


Raise questions like:

  • How often should we clean the place? 
  • What times are acceptable for having a noisy environment?  
  • How often can we have friends over?


Not everyone will share the same outlook, but as long as everyone’s voice and opinions are heard, coming to an agreement on the house rules will give a strong foundation for settling future conflicts for when they inevitably come up. 


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2. Establish mutual respect for one another

No matter who you’re sharing an apartment with in NYC (or anywhere else in the world), it’s important to understand that we’re all human, and human beings are complex


Any successful relationship is reliant on having mutual respect, or the understanding that everyone has specific needs and habits. Having roommates that are considerate and aware of your personal lifestyle goes both ways; tune in to your roommates’ habits and they’ll reciprocate. 


When a roommate meeting is called to discuss a matter, mutually respecting roommates will make the time and ensure they’re home to attend. 


Mutual respect also stretches your roommate’s room. In most cases, roommate apartments in NYC give everyone their own room as their personal corner of the city. A bedroom is a sanctuary; it’s where you go to relax and unwind. Treat a closed door as a boundary; if your roommates have a habit of barging in, explain that a simple knock will do. 



Above all, make a habit of demonstrating your thoughtfulness and consideration for things that are important to your roommates; it goes a long way - far enough to attract the same from them towards you.

3. Resolve conflicts in person

Conflicts are uncomfortable; it’s all too easy to ignore and push them off, or leave the infamous sarcastic sticky note. These ‘fixes’ stand on unclear communication that leads to an explosive shouting match. 


Written text is easy to misconstrue and never communicates actual intention. When something comes up, strive to reconcile the matter in person.


Oral communication contains body language, tone, and authenticity that speak louder than any texts sent in the apartment group chat. 

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4. Frame clashes as discussions

Fights between roommates can get heated quickly. Instead of tossing accusations at each other, try creating a dialogue that gives both sides time to speak. 


When an issue needs to get resolved, send a text saying, “hey, when is a good time for you to talk about the apartment?” Giving both sides time to think about what they want to say, setting the time to talk creates an equal ground to discuss what’s on your mind without raising tempers. 

5. Reconnect outside the apartment

Living in a city as glamorous as New York begs us to get out of the apartment. We’re social animals! There’s over a thousand sights to explore in any neighborhood in NYC; sometimes it's better to resolve the inside conflicts outside. 


Going out with your roommates gives them an entirely new context, giving you the opportunity to enjoy each other’s friendship as well. The huge issues of living with one another often melt away in the enormity of the city. 


Talk about anything other than the issues of living with one another; shared comradery over drinks or appetizers eases tensions that make the difficult conversations easier to have.

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