Living with your best friend can feel like a sitcom. Your shared apartment is the place where you come home to each other, celebrate each other’s victories, talk out your problems and get into a few hilarious hijinks along the way.
Unfortunately, no matter how many reruns of Friends you watch, being roommates with your best friend will always be more like a reality TV show than a sitcom.
There will be disagreements. Some will be over little things, like your BFF eating a slice of your leftover pizza without asking and some will be over big things, like your BFF eating your entire leftover pizza without asking (seriously, don’t eat someone else’s leftover pizza). No matter how well you think you know each other, there are things you can only learn about someone by living them, things like their habit of taking hour long showers or listening to loud music in the morning.
While some people might argue that you should never, ever even think about becoming roommates with your best friend, sharing an apartment can be an experience that makes your bond even stronger. Before you sign that lease together, sit down and talk about these 8 things:
1. Having Guests Over
No one likes the girl whose boyfriend becomes a permanent house guest, or the guy who throws a raging party while his roommate is trying to sleep.
You and your best friend probably share a lot of mutual friends, so you might not see a need to have the guest policy discussion, but skipping it could result in disaster. Figure out what works for both of you when it comes to having significant others over, hosting parties and inviting family members to crash when they’re in town. It’s smart to have a set number of nights you’re cool with having overnight guests stay at the apartment, that way neither one of you has to worry about being rude.
2. Sharing Food
Using the last of that milk that doesn’t belong to you might not seem like a big deal, but it’s one of those little things that can turn into an ugly fight.
Talk about how you feel about sharing groceries. You might decide to do all of your shopping separately and commit to only using the items you actually bought. You could also decide to share common items like cooking oil. You may even agree to share everything.
Be honest if you’re the kind of person who goes crazy when people take your food without asking or if you’re the rare unicorn who loves to share food. And most importantly, don’t assume that your best friend feels the same way.
Is your best friend a secret slob who only cleans up when people come over? There’s no way of knowing until you live together.
Discuss cleaning habits before you shack up. That means talking about the chores you don’t mind doing and the ones you absolutely hate doing. If one of you likes to vacuum and the other one likes to wipe counters, you can easily divide cleaning responsibilities based on who will do what and how often.
As juvenile as it might seem, you may even consider a chore chart or some other system for tracking what needs to be done.
4. Quiet Hours
No, you don’t need to institute the same quiet hours that your college dorm had, but having a general idea of when it’s okay to use your outside voice inside will help you avoid the dreaded loud house guests at 3am on a Tuesday scenario.
Talk about your sleeping habits and your schedules. If you both have work or class during the week and have weekends off, get into the specifics of going out and having parties at the apartment. If one of you likes to get up early on Monday or sleep in late on Sunday, address that. Neither one of you should be forced to tiptoe around or deal with the other’s noisy TV habits.
5. How Much Time You’ll Spend Together
One of the weird things about living with your best friend is the implication that you should spend every second together. While you can certainly do that if you both want to, the truth is you’ll probably need alone time at some point.
Your don’t want to be codependent but you also don’t want to leave each other out. Talk about how much alone time you generally like to have and what’s a good way to ask for it without being hurtful. You can plan on a few things you do together (a weekly wine night, perhaps) but you should also have interests that you pursue separately.
6. How You’ll Use Shared Spaces
If your personal decorating style involves faux fur and leopard print and your best friend is a minimalist, you’ve got to discuss shared spaces.
Talk about how you’ll compromise with decorating. What furniture do you both already own? Do you have a piece of artwork that you’d love to hang in the living room? If you’re going to buy a couch together, what color will it be?
You should also discuss appliances and electronics that will be kept in shared spaces. Are you okay with your roommate using your XBox? What about those expensive champagne flutes that you got for your birthday? Talk it out before you move in.
7. Your Budget
Money is one of those things people feel like they shouldn’t discuss, but it’s important that you and your best friend talk about it before you get a place together. Ideally, you should discuss it before you even start looking for a shared apartment.
Take the time to compare budgets and spending habits. Are you both in school? Both young professionals? Will either one of you have help with rent from parents? Determine what you can both afford—including bills and deposits—not just what works for one person. Next, figure out who will pay which bills and what you’ll do if one of your financial situations changes.
8. What You’ll Do If There’s Ever a Problem
Having a disagreement with a best friend roommate is a lot different than tension with a normal roommate. It feels like a bigger deal because you’re closer and there’s so much more at stake.
If an issue arises, you can avoid a full blown fight by talking things out way beforehand. We all know how hard it is to have a rational discussion when you’re angry, so have that rational discussion before you move in together.
Talk about how you’d like to communicate if there’s ever a problem. Make a plan to avoid the classic passive aggressive roommate notes in favor of actual conversation and discuss a few hypothetical scenarios that might warrant a sit down talk. You may even want to plan on doing weekly or monthly check-ins to make sure your roommate dynamic is as solid as your friendship.