Some of these tips might sound neurotic or extreme, but when we’re moving in with a new roommate, we have found that it works best to clearly establish everyone’s boundaries and rules up front. Once you get to know and feel comfortable with each other, these things naturally relax into a rhythm.
1. Talk to Each Other - It seems obvious, but the biggest way to avoid conflict is to hash it out before it becomes a conflict. If you like to leave the dishes to morning, but this gives your roommate the heebie-jeebies, these are things you should talk about.
2. Identify Common Space verses Personal Space - This goes for cupboard and fridge space, as well as shared dishes, personal equipment, and communal ingredients.
3. Set a Cleaning Schedule - We’re all adults now and this may seem a little like 3rd grade, but it can be really good to have it clearly stated who does what and when. You could simply divide up the chores (I always do dishes, you always take out the trash) or you can just set a rotation schedule. It’s also good to identify what things need to be done daily and what can be done less frequently. Again, the key is just to talk to each other.
4. Talk About Big Cooking Projects - If you’re going to be cooking something that will tie up the oven for several hours or potentially stink up the house for an evening, give your roommate a little heads up. No one likes to be surprised by these things!
5. Talk About Big Purchases - Don’t buy a microwave and expect your roomie to chip in half unless you’ve already talked about it. If the purchase is going to take up a lot of space (like a Kitchen-Aid or a 4-slot toaster), it’s also good to talk about where it will go in the kitchen before you bring it home.
6. Keep Talking to Each Other - Once you’ve got the perfect system going, don’t forget to check in with each other. Sometimes circumstances change or an annoying habit surfaces that wasn’t immediately apparent. It’s important to talk about things as they come up rather than let them stew (pardon the cooking pun).
Setting boundaries and talking about personal habits in the kitchen can be surprisingly difficult and emotional. Be patient and be flexible with both yourself and with your roommates. Know which points are really important to you and on which things you’re willing to compromise.
What other tips do you have for peacefully sharing kitchen space?