Living on your own with Roommates
Most dancers have roommate living experience starting at a young age and it’s something you’ll continue to deal with. There are lots of things to consider that can make it go well.
Living on your own for the first time is a very big step. In addition to starting at a new school or company, you’re living in a new city. It’s up to you to make sure you go grocery shopping, clean the apartment, do laundry, pay bills, and make dinner (all of the #Adulting).
You don’t have your parents to fall back on when your rehearsal schedule gets crazy. Though if you and your roommate get along I’m sure they would be willing to lend a helping hand.
The biggest part of living on your own is living with a roommate, whether it’s for a summer program, college, or the real world. There are a slew of living situation possibilities, each with their own unique potential problems and issues.
I’ve lived with close friends, acquaintances, and strangers I got roommate – matched with. I’ve lived in dorms where I had to share a room, a forced triple, and had my own room but shared a common room/living area in both an apartment and house. Roommates can really either make or break your living situation and life outside of dance.
Here are some tips for navigating living on your own:
Call Your Family
When you’re accustomed to living with a group of people every day, you’re naturally going to miss them when you move out. You don’t need to call them every day, but a once a week check in is always a good idea.
Make it part of your weekly schedule. In college, I always called my mom on Thursday nights. Calling your family it a great way to fix a case of home-sickness.
Set Up Responsibilities
Decide right away who puts their name on the utility (water, electric, internet, etc) bills. Pick the roommate that will stay on top of the bills and always pay them on time.
Decide as a group how often the dorm room or apartment will get cleaned. Is there a scheduled cleaning day where everyone works together or is it more a clean as you have free time in your schedule?
Draw Boundary Lines within the Living Space
Don’t pull out the masking tape the second you move in to make literal lines within the apartment. Establish what is personal space and communal space.
Usually, bedrooms are personal space and the everywhere else in the apartment is communal space.
In the kitchen, make sure each person has room to store their food – a shelf in the fridge and a cabinet or shelf in the pantry. Mostly this is an unspoken rule, but if you feel that your space is being invaded, speak up.
Make Your New Space Feel Like Home
Do whatever you need to do to make this new space fee like home. It could mean covering the walls with photos of friends and family, sleeping with a comfy pillow or blanket, and hanging all the twinkle lights (if your dorm or apartment allows it).
Discuss your stance on food with your roommate. Since fueling yourself as a dancer is so important, you need to make sure you have everything you need.
Decide if you will go grocery shopping together, split food costs and/or share food. Learn if your roommate is ok with sharing food if you run out. Are they ok with you grabbing one of their bananas if you run out? When in doubt always ask.
Never take something if it’s the last one. No one likes going to make a snack or meal and finding that they are out of the ingredients because someone ate it without asking.
Stay In Tune with Each Other’s Schedules
This is definitely easier to do when you’re dancing in the same company, with the same schedule each day. If you aren’t, consider keeping a calendar in the common living space with everyone’s schedules.
Be aware of when your roommate has an early call for work, rehearsal, or a show. Don’t be crazy loud when they are trying to get some sleep. In college dorms they often have quiet hours for this exact reason.
Have Set Rules About Guests
If necessary, set rules about guests/friends coming over. Establish, how far in advanced do you need to ask and give notice to your roommate that guests are coming over. Put it on the schedule if a friend is coming over or staying with you overnight.
Don’t be Afraid to Call People Out
Don’t be afraid to call out your roommate for leaving dirty dishes in the sink or forgetting to turn a light out. If something drives you crazy let your roommate know, don’t let your annoyance fester.
You Won’t Always be Besties with the People You Live With
You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but if you are that’s fantastic! Make sure you’re on pleasant terms with your roommate, you are living with them after all.
Feel that you are on good terms where you can co-habitate in peace. If you want to bond with your roommate more, suggest making dinner together or have a movie night.