Whether you are planning to live with friends you have known for a long time or moving in with someone new, it is essential for you and your roommates to be comfortable. The best way to avoid aggravations is to communicate clear expectations and to establish certain essential rules. In addition, the earlier you establish clear lines of communication, the easier it will be to discuss other situations that might arise later.
While it may feel juvenile to create a chore chart, it is both mature and important to divide chores amongst roommates. People inherently have different levels of preferred cleanliness, making it important to inform your roommates of your preferences and to take the time to listen to their opinions. Making assumptions can oftentimes lead to some of the roommates being unhappy and doing more than their fair share of the chore load, suffering in silence, partaking in passive-aggressive actions, etc. You do not have to hang a chore chart on the fridge, but rather, simply discuss how often the garbage should be taken out, when the bathrooms should be cleaned, and any other chores you feel will be necessary.
The goal of any rooming situation is for all roommates to be relaxed, however, that should not come at the expense of any one roommate. This is especially true when establishing ground rules for shared public areas within the rented living space. If you would prefer that certain areas remain cleared of personal belongings (such as a shared table or inside the bathroom) you should bring these concerns to the attention of the group. This will help to prevent people from accidentally moving important personal belongings while also ensuring that there is always space for you to move around at ease.
The kitchen and dining area of any living space can easily become a subject of contention if ground rules are not established. Certain chores, such as cleaning dishes, will arise on a daily basis and deserve particular attention since this chore occurs in a public space. A good rule to set is for everyone to clean their own dishes soon after they use them, ensuring that the kitchen does not accumulate a level of messiness that someone else might feel obligated to attend to. If multiple people choose to cook and eat a meal together, generally whoever did not cook should offer to clean.
Food in a communal space is a complex subject to tackle, as it is shared as easily as it is claimed by a single individual. You should discuss what kind of a food plan you have in mind, keeping in mind a budget that you are comfortable in maintaining. This may include cooking shared meals, or it may be decided that everyone would prefer to cook solely for themselves. If you wish for food to be individualized, you should clearly define space within the fridge/pantry/freezer for every member of the household. If you find yourself in need of a food item that one of your roommates has, be sure to ask them for permission to use some (and offer to replace it the next time you go to the store).
If you decide that you are comfortable sharing meals in any capacity, it may be helpful to clarify if there are select foods that you would like to keep to yourself. This can be applicable if there are leftovers that you are relying on to serve as subsequent meals or if there is a specific snack that you have purchased for yourself. Again, it is always better to check with your roommates if you are unsure if a particular food item is available to the group.
At this point in time, many individuals find themselves taking classes and/or working from home. It may be helpful to share your schedule with your roommates so that everyone is aware of when certain meetings are occurring. Additionally, while it is extremely important to enjoy being social with the members of your pod, it is also important to respect the fact that people can be very drained after spending long hours on the computer. This may result in you requesting for it to be quiet after a certain point in the evening. This will allow for all roommates to recharge and be ready to interact politely the next day.
Every roommate situation has a different overall energy and will function in a different way. It may not always be necessary to discuss all the topics on this list, however, it never hurts to talk to your roommates if there is something that is bothering you or that you believe may develop into an issue.