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Roommate survival guide

How to live with six extreme personalities.


Renting a room in a packed house seems appealing to a lot of students. Reality shows have infected young minds to the point where living out a university-version of Jersey Shore is many people's idea of a good time. We all know more people equals more fun, right?

But roommates are like liquor---one or two shots can lead to a good time, but have too many and you're bound to end up head-first in the toilet wondering why you didn't stop at number six.

Frankly, each roommate you add only increases your odds of going clinically insane by the end of the year.

During my time in university, I had to share a home with every type of roommate there is, from the gym-obsessed meathead who high-fives his buddies after each bowel movement, to a racially-confused white girl who thought dying her hair and donning a fake tan was enough to call herself Hispanic.

The tree-hugging activist, an OCD mother hen, the couch-potato gamer---I've dealt with them all.

If you can afford to live on your own, you'll avoid your fair share of passive-aggressive feuds and dirty dishes drama. But for those of you getting ready to shack up with others, here's a short list of roommates you may have to survive, along with tips on how to prevent having a breakdown before your lease runs out.

The arrogant gym rat

I don't have a problem with gym-goers. In fact, I'm jealous of their energy and the willpower they have to say no to discount doughnuts. But when fitness becomes a person's greatest ambition, they can be hard to live with---especially when your idea of working out is walking to the corner store for a bag of Doritos and a can of Diet Coke.

Unless you want a run-down of all the calories in your meal, abstain from having lunch with your weight-lifting comrade. No matter how much you insist that you're content with your physique, your iron-pumping housemate will do you the favour of pointing out all your flaws.

As if reciting their exercise rituals at the dinner table while bragging about how much they can bench press wasn't bad enough, your gym-crazed roomie will go out of their way to suggest a workout routine along with a hefty list of vitamin supplements you should spend your paycheque on.

If you decide to finally give into the pressures of working out but you've never stepped foot on a treadmill, don't worry, your roommate will tell you everything you're doing wrong.

How to deal

Don't want to see your stash of chocolate bars replaced with protein shakes and low-fat granola bars? Then you better make it clear right off the back that junk food is your friend and that no amount of rice cakes will satisfy your midnight craving for Double Stuf Oreos and chocolate milk.

The intoxicated party animal

Party animals are upbeat, social people who never miss an outing and are always on the hunt for a good time. A huge chunk of their money goes toward buying booze for their weekly outings downtown, where the bouncers know them by name.

Stumbling around the streets on any given Saturday, these roommates are not afraid to pee in public and can often be seen ejecting the contents of their stomach onto some unlucky fellow's lawn. You might find it amusing at first, until they become Lindsay Lohan-level intoxicated and storm into your room while you're in the middle of getting frisky with your mate.

How to deal

To avoid being woken up at 4am to open the door to a drunken mess, put your phone on vibrate before going to bed. If you encounter your night owl roommate after a wild night on the town, try your best not to get roped into a conversation. Drunk people say things they would never proclaim with a sober mind, so avoid hearing any unpleasantries by heading straight for your room.

The overbearing mother hen

One of the things people look forward to when moving out of their parents' home is escaping the constant nagging to keep the house perfectly clean. Without your folks breathing down your neck, you're also free to sleep in until noon, drink on weekdays and skip class without any repercussions.

Unfortunately, some people feel the need to act as a mama bear and quickly strip you of your new found freedom. They fixate on the smallest things to the point where they become interfering and annoying. If you happen to be naturally laidback, the apartment's surrogate mother will surely get on your nerves.

The mother-like roommate tends to be overly attached, referring to housemates as family members and expecting everyone to get along. They're the decision-maker nobody asked for and the mediator no one seems to need.

How to deal

The best way to handle a person who feels like they have to be in control of all aspects of their surroundings is to live up to the responsibilities you accepted when you became their roommate. It might not seem fair, but it's the best way to keep this anal-retentive housemate off your back.

Didn't agree to any rules before moving in? Then you're off the hook. Don't let this roommate make you feel guilty for not vacuuming every other day or for taking off your jacket and leaving it on the couch for an hour or two. No one should make you feel obligated to be a neat freak simply because you're splitting the rent.

The rude gamer

Does your couch have a permanent butt mark in one of its cushions? Does it smell like a combination of stale chips, energy drinks and sweat? Then chances are you live with an extreme gamer.

Gamers are territorial couch potatoes. They set up a nest on your sofa and selfishly claim it as their turf. They're so invested in their video games that they become socially inept and cut themselves off from the rest of the house. There are little things more annoying than having to reserve your living room's TV a week in advance simply to watch a movie. But when you live with someone who's surgically attached to an Xbox controller that's just the way it is.

If you'd like to come home after school and relax by watching your favourite sitcom then I suggest you find a way to watch it online. If you ever plan on stepping foot in your living room again, make sure to stock up on Febreeze. You might not be able to get rid of the gamer's desire to spend every waking moment glued to the TV, but at least you can mask their gag-inducing, pungent odour brought on by countless hours of sitting on their ass.

The attention-seeking liar

University is an opportunity to start fresh. Students adopt a new wardrobe, others try out a funky hairstyle and some even change their names. But then there are the people who take it too far---the pathological liars.

Roommates like this constantly lie for the sake of gaining attention. They'll make up wild stories to seem more interesting when really nobody cares. The pathological liar doesn't worry about how big their fib may grow or how it could affect others. All this person is concerned about is not being caught in their lies.

In my case, this nutcase of a roommate came in the form of a racially-confused small-town gal. She lied about her ethnicity without thinking about how it might insult the people she was trying to impersonate.

Faking your cultural background is pretty intense, but for a pathological liar, it's no more than a story they desperately cling to and go to great lengths to maintain.

How to deal

So what to do when your roommate tries to pass off as something you know they're not? Ignore them. Pathological liars get so caught up in their fabricated lies that even if you confronted them with the truth they would still keep up the charade.

The best thing to do in this case is to keep your distance and remember you can never fully trust what's coming out of their mouths.

The uber activist

The uber activist is involved in every (and any) social cause. Their motto is simple: save the whales, the environment, the short supply of cocoa---save it all!

On the outside, the picket-sign hauling activist seems like an openminded individual. In reality, they're easily the most judgemental of the bunch.

While you may not care whether your roommate prefers lentils and rice as oppose to steak and potatoes, your organic-obsessed vegetarian roommate will constantly strive to hint at how horrible you are for biting into red meat and failing to buy your spuds at the high-priced farmers' market. No amount of PETA videos will make you give up bacon, but the activist will still preach his or her beliefs like a relentless, overzealous religious nut.

How to deal

This breed of activist has to let everyone know just how much they care. They'll go out of their way to sport the grungy, "haven't washed my hair in a week" look while criticizing others for being a bunch of conformists. Because as we all know, Che Guevara shirts, dreadlocks and Rasta-coloured jewellery is the epitome of originality.

Unless you want to hear a long, rehearsed speech on the importance of going green (as if we haven't heard it already), never forget to bring along a reusable bag when shopping with the uber activist.

These are special cases

Some experiences are nearly impossible to avoid---a roommate will eat your food, you'll have to remind someone to wash their dirty dishes and rent will be late at least once.

You may finish university with a couple of bad stories, but nothing too scarring. These roommates aren't guaranteed with every overcrowded, overpriced student house, so don't go looking for a sublet just yet.

You can't always be the best roommate either. Being mad or annoyed at some point is just inevitable. But after hearing about these extreme stereotypes, living with someone who spends 10 minutes too long in the shower or forgets to take out the trash doesn't seem so bad, does it? 


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