Living on your Own

How to Be a Good Roommate, Get Groceries and Acquire Furniture

PQ: There will be hardships, but they are growing pains as we all become a little more independent and self-sufficient.

Welcome back to school, everyone! Whether you’re a returning student or an incoming freshman, I hope your summer has been warm, and the worst thing that has happened to you recently is the horrendous bookstore line.

The semester is definitely in full swing, and now that we are finally done covering the syllabi, we can get into the learning part of college. Going off to college does come with some additional challenges. Many of us, myself included, are no longer living in mom and dad’s house for the first time.

During my freshman and sophomore years, I saved money by staying home and commuting to school. This year I have a roommate and an apartment. I am finally out of my parents’ literal basement. However, living with a roommate is unlike living with your parents, siblings, or guardians. In fact I have come to find out that living on my own is unlike any other life experience I have had so far. So over these last few months, here is what I have learned about living on my own.

Get Along with your Roomies

1. Be open to conversation.

When you live with someone new, there may be some conversations you’ll need to have, even though they might be challenging. On my first day living with my roommate, I told her, “Look, I don’t want you to ever worry about needing to tell me something. I would rather you tell me if I am doing something that’s frustrating you than it hurts our friendship.” She felt the same way.

Since I am only human, I am 100% sure that something that is a pet peeve of hers or gets under her skin will come up. I can be messy and absent-minded. I am aware enough of my faults to know that something will come up because that’s just life. We are opening these roads of communication will help us sort out disagreements much faster.

Furthermore, your roommate should know if you have any medical conditions and, which hospital you’re insured by in case of an emergency. Talk about how you would like to split finances and responsibilities. How are you splitting rent and groceries?

2. Define your boundaries

What is considered public space? Are you okay with someone using your charger? What about your fridge? Are you alright with clothes being on the floor if you’re sharing a room? Are you super clean?
These might seem like little things, but it’s easier to be respectful to your roommate’s boundaries and define preferences now than to find out five weeks into living together that putting toilet paper on backward drives your roommate bonkers.

While this ties heavily into respecting your roommate and communication, it goes deeper than some surface-level concerns. Your roommate might feel safer if you don’t have boys over after 10. It might be a safety issue to leave your shoes about. If you have an 8am class it might be worth having quite time int the apartment at 9. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and tell your roommate what you need from them for it to be a successful roommate pairing.

3. Know they may not be your best friend

It’s unfortunate, but the reality is your roommate might not be your person. Not every personality is compatible, and just because your roommate is an excellent friend doesn’t mean they make a good housemate. You can love someone personally and not enjoy being around them 100% of the time.
Maybe your roommate is a miserable person to be around, or perhaps you don’t have any similar interests. Either way, that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. It just means you’ll find someone new next year who is hopefully a better fit.

In the meantime, you can find places on campus to hang out that you enjoy. All of my current girlfriends are people I met through clubs. It might take a while, but you will find someone on campus who is your niche and the perfect fit. It’s normal not to be best friends with your roommate but following my earlier advice is an excellent way to keep an okay relationship from souring into a negative one.

Also, know that sometimes you do everything right, you are considerate, respectful, and kind, and still, your roommate is just determined to make life miserable for the both of you. That doesn’t mean it’s your fault; it just means that finding a new roommate might be something you talk to your RA or your landlord about.

Just signing a lease doesn’t mean you’re entirely out of options. Every landlord is different and if it’s close to the end of your lease anyways, you may be able to find a new apartment sooner than you think. You may find talking to your RA will help you solve a disagreement, see someone in a new light, or get you a new room assignment.


With the prices of groceries currently feeling like they have reached dizzying heights, I thought I would offer some insight on how to grocery shop here locally. Many of you are from across the river in Minnesota, South Dakota, and other parts of the midwest. So here’s what you got to do.

First, I would never shop for groceries anywhere besides Aldi and Walmart. And sure, Walmart has a particular reputation, but it has just about everything a new adult could need.

Walmart has got everything from shower curtains to whole wheat bread to pens and pencils. Aldi is also very reasonably priced. If I were you, I would shop at Aldi, and anything I couldn’t find at Aldi, try to get from Walmart.

The other thing to note is how much to buy. I went grocery shopping last week for the first time, and I can confidently say I got way too much food. I have enough food to probably last me through most of September. Remember how much one person eats, which is not very much.

I don’t have a full breakfast most days; I have a bagel. I don’t even have a full lunch; I’ll have whatever leftovers are in the fridge. So don’t be as foolish as me and spend double your grocery budget on a single Walmart trip.

Finally, Costco is a great place to get bulk items like drinks, bed sheets, and Tupperware if you have a membership. They also have pretty good gas prices. Theoretically, you could borrow a friend’s Costco card and get a few essentials. Not that I would ever encourage you to do so. Certainly not I.


Finally, you have a roommate you get along with and food in your fridge, but alas, no bed to sleep on, no couch or Tv to watch the House of the Dragon Premiere. Family, friends, and thrift stores are the best ways to get furniture. Between your roommate and your families, you may end up with more than you realize.

Your first apartment will not be Pinterest-worthy unless you are incredibly wealthy, and that’s okay. I have knives, plates, and glasses from the thrift store. Pots and Pans from my mom. And a desk from Ikea. To decorate my walls, I got prints and vines off amazon.

It will be slow going, but do your best to acquire some essentials before you move out. With some diligent searching, a thrift store can meet your needs. The three I do too in the area are Savers, The Arc, and The North Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

Now, I am not going to tell you which of the three is my favorite because I don’t want a crazy hoard of college students poaching my best thrift finds. However, I will tell you that Savers is a for-profit thrift store. So, If I were you, I’d check out the other two first.


For my last tid bits of wisdom, wear headphones in public spaces, replace the toilet paper in the shared bathroom, clean your dishes instead of leaving a mess, and ask before bringing over guests, and don’t out something back in the fridge or pantry if the container is empty. Just don’t.

Living on your own can be challenging. I am only about a week into it, and I can say confidently I have it far from figured out. My roommate has lived independently for a while, so she has helped me a lot. For example, explaining things to me like putting down a deposit, what all my keys are for, and how much our electricity bill is going to be.

There will be hardships, but they are growing pains as we all become a little more independent and self-sufficient. Even though I am twenty, I can confidently say I have no idea what I am doing. I am simply doing my best. I hope these tips and tricks give you a leg up as we all step out into the big wide world together.

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