When is it okay to consider switching roommates?

I’ve had two conversations this week (and then this question came in) about switching roommates or general plans on where to live next school year. Though it may seem a little early, you’ll be surprised how quickly in the spring semester you are going to have to make decisions on the who and where of your living situation next year.

ONE:  If you are wondering…

Is it okay to switch roommates after the end of this semester?

Let me caution you.  Unless things are just horrible in your room, I highly encourage you to try to make it a full year with your roommate.  Why? A few reasons. 1- It will grow you and mature you immensely.  Having roommates is of the most refining processes we go through.  Sure, it’d be easier to just bail when things are less than ideal, but if you can stick it out and learn to live with someone that isn’t your best friend and sometimes gets on your nerves, you will learn so much in patience, kindness, graciousness, communication, and more.  2- A lot of times when we bail on a roommate, it puts her in a really bad spot.  While you are not responsible for her, it is considerate of you to think about how your actions may affect her.  3- Let’s be practical.  It’s usually just tough to switch mid-year.  So, unless you have a close friend who’s roommate is moving out, leaving an easy spot for you to fill, I’d highly consider staying put.  4- When you switch roommates, you are trading a set of known problems for a set of unknown problems.  You already know the things that grate you and the problems you have to work through with your current roomie.  You don’t know what this new roommate situation will be like–even if she is your sorority sister.  Best friends can be horrible roommates.

TWO:  If you are wondering…


Is it okay to switch roommates for next academic year?

I say– absolutely!  You are in no way committed to your current roommate.  Now, the key here is communicating with your current roommate and letting them know you have other plans for next fall.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard girls (and guys) doing backroom deals with all these other friends, plotting roommate pairings, suite groupings, and apartment leases–while letting their current roommate or another friend think that they are going to live with them.  This is not okay.  Put yourself in her shoes.  It is hurtful to think you are going to continue living with your current roommate, then find out she has made all these other plans without you.  And on top of that, you are left having not made any plans with anyone else and panic sets in that you will have to sign up to live with a random roommate.  Don’t do that to someone else.  If you are certain you want to make plans to live with other friends next year, you need to bring that up with your current roommate sooner than later.  It may start as an awkward conversation, but the earlier you tell her, the more time you are giving her to make her own plans for next year.  You’ll know it’s time to bring it up when everyone around you starts talking about housing/roommate plans for next year.

THREE:  If you are wondering…


Where should I live? On campus or off campus?

A few suggestions for you. 1- Talk to your parents.  They may already feel really strongly about you staying on campus.  Or they may really want you to move off campus because it’s cheaper.  Either way, if mom and dad are paying the bills, they actually have the final say.  So, before you start plotting all these great plans, chat with mom and dad.  2- In my very humble opinion, I think you should stay on campus at least your  first two years.  It continues to ingratiate you into your campus community.  And frankly, life is easier on campus.  You’re not having to worry about utility bills, landlords, and more.  I think junior year, or definitely senior year, is a great time to move off.  3- If you move off, get ready, your grades will likely go down.  Seriously.  There are dozens of studies out there that show this.  Basically, when you live off campus, your brain separates home life from school life.  You won’t study or read as much.  It’s easier to get home, plop on the couch, and hang with you roommates–forgetting you have 100 pages of reading material.  Can you combat this?  Of course.  But you’ll have to be much more intentional about studying and doing your school work.

I could go on about this topic, but I’ll refrain from preaching for now.  Any advice from those of you who did switch roommates between years?  Or did move off campus your sophomore year?