Five Ways to Survive a Terrible Roommate

Updated December 5, 2022 · 1 Min Read

Learn our five tips to survive a terrible roommate, whether you're in college or living out in the world. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Surviving a Terrible Roommate

  • Communicate
  • "Buy" Diplomacy
  • Get Out More
  • Shift Schedules
  • Make Other Living Arrangements

When in a shared living situation, we can only hope to not find ourselves in a position in which we are just trying to survive a terrible roommate. Unfortunately, this does happen from time to time. So, how do you do it? What are some of the best things you can do in facilitating the very best of a potentially awful roommate situation? Here are five ways to survive a terrible roommate.


One of the foremost tactics in roommate survival is always going to be communication. In discussing communication, Psychology Today writer Will Meek explains: "A large portion of our lives is spent communicating with others." Furthermore, he writes, "sharing your thoughts and understanding another person's feelings are essential skills for functioning in any society in the world".

In a roommate situation, this is especially true, and many tensions can resolved through calm heads and the use of this tool. Discuss in turn, each others concerns and enjoyments with regard to the current situation. Be open-minded and listen, and you just may find that heavy cloud of negativity finally lifting.

"Buy" Diplomacy

Sometimes, we may try to talk to our roommate, but words seem to be useless. In cases like these, it can often be quite effective to actually "buy" some agreements and diplomatic peace. While some may argue against such techniques, a simple trade or money coercion can end up being quite worth the expense in the end. If pizza money or trading some personal effect will buy restful sleep, a stress-free home, or other high-value perks, then the benefit has certainly outweighed the initial cost.

Get Out More

Another, more simplistic way to offset roommate troubles is through avoidance. This is not to say that complete and regular avoidance of the home is healthy or an effective, long-term resolution, but rather, that such temporary movements can bring some much-needed resolution to a troubled situation. This is especially true if your roommate is not always on the right track, and you begin to suffer the "Xbox Effect", in which the bad habits of nearby roommates may start to become a bit contagious. Whether it's for argument avoidance or simply getting away from bad habits, a little time out is always a good thing.

Shift Schedules

Touching back on the above-mentioned tactic of measured avoidance, one great way for some to gain space is via constructive schedule shifting. This is not always a possibility, but if there are issues and the involved parties are able to make some scheduling changes in order to be apart more, then this is a great consideration. With regard to college roommates in particular, try working with your roommate ahead of class scheduling in order to possibly create more mutual privacy and space for one another.

Make Other Living Arrangements

In rare cases, one may find that they've simply tried everything, and eventual compatibility is simply not possible. This is OK, and is often the fault of neither party but simply a matter of chemistry and the fates. In such situations, the best way to survive that nightmare roommate situation may be, in fact, by making arrangements to permanently move on. Depending on your particular living situation and facility ownership, talk with management and negotiate the best way out.

Roommates are often a roll of the dice. We hope for the best, but sometimes aren't matched the way we'd truly like. In conclusion, the five aforementioned tactics for surviving a terrible roommate situation can really go the distance in saving the day.

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