This post has been sponsored by Brita®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This summer has been so good to us. Ben is working at a demanding internship he loves and the kids have friends on campus to scooter or swim with at Walden Pond, but the highlight is having both of my sisters home from college for the summer.
We spend a couple nights each week up in New Hampshire when Ben has late evenings at work and convince them to come down to Boston as often as we can.
It means we’ve had plenty of time for late night chats about majors, minors and classes for the fall. We’re also excited we get to set up Maddie’s first apartment! One sister heads off to study in Jerusalem and the other moves into her first apartment after living in the dorms. The first thing on our list of apartment must-haves? The Brita Pacifica PitcherⓇ. But more on that later!
I met Ben in the first apartment I ever lived in, so it’s been a lot of fun reminiscing about that first space and dreaming up some practical + fun ways for Maddie to make it her own (and get along with her roommates).
It has me thinking about the last time I lived with roommates, what made it work, and what Maddie could do better than I did. Here are a few pieces of sisterly advice and some of the must-haves we’re making sure she has before heading back to campus.
Sister to sister: Roommate Advice for your First Apartment
- Start with a place for everything: Take the extra minute (or hour) finding a place for everything when you move in. In your own closet, you’ll be grateful you’re so organized, but this can also head off any roommate disagreements about kitchen space or how to use the front hall closet. Take the time to decide together what goes where so there aren’t any issues about it later on. (Pay special attention to kitchen space, bathroom space, shelf space, and other common areas.)
- Don’t skip decorating: Just because you don’t have the budget or are only going to be living here for a year, doesn’t mean you should skip decorating. A few things hung on the wall go a long way to making a space feel like a home (just be sure to coordinate with your roommates ahead of time so you don’t end up with something someone hates).
- Coordinate shopping lists: Before you move in, make assignments on a google doc with roommates so you don’t have multiple can-openers and no knives. To make it easier, grab the checklist below and allow your roommates to claim the things they already have or want to bring. Divide up the things that haven’t been spoken for or agree to purchase them together after you move in. We did a roommate Walmart run our first week in the apartment and split the cost of all the necessary communal items like toilet paper, paper towels, measure cups, and more.
- Consider a roommate agreement or regular house meetings: Set sound house rules ahead of time, whether it’s in a formal sit-down meeting or each adding a few house rules to a google doc. We also used to have roommate meetings once a month where we’d talk about how things are going, adjust chore lists, and talk about any group events we wanted to host. Here are a few other ideas for roommate rules:
- Text your roommates when you’re having people over: It doesnt’ mean you have to ask for permission or apologize. It’s just common courtesy so they don’t walk out in a towel to find a kitchen full of people.
- Set quiet hours or times guests will be out of the apartment on school nights: We had a curfew set by the school but we agreed that ten minutes after curfew, roommates could come out and say “welcome to Tuesday” which was the cue to leave.
- Guidelines for chores + kitchen duties. We loved having roommate dinner twice a week where one of the four of us was in charge of cooking + cleaning up. Other than that, you were in charge of cleaning up your own dishes by the end of each evening.
- Refill the water pitcher and ice trays: Few things are more maddening then refilling the Brita® only to go get a drink the next day and have it be empty. Also, replace the toilet paper roll.
I wish I were going to be there in Utah to do the big Walmart shopping trip once she’s moved in her stuff, but I’ll still be here on the east coast. So we’re making sure she has almost all of her stuff ahead of time. Here are the things NOT on the apartment checklist we’re making sure Maddie has for back to school:
Apartment necessities you might not find on a packing list:
- A mattress pad: A lot of college apartments come furnished and the easiest upgrade to the place you spend the most time is a mattress pad. I had an eggshell pad like this one when I was in school and it made such a difference.
- Consider white noise: And speaking of sleeping situations, if you’re sharing a room, it can be hard to coordinate multiple schedules. I had a roommate sophomore year who insisted on sleeping with a white noise machine. Initially, it drove me crazy (just give me some peace and quiet!), but I’ve since read the studies about how everyone sleeps better with white background noise, and it definitely made staying asleep easier when she would come in after I had gone to bed.
- A Brita Water Pitcher: At home, we have hard mineral well water and we will only drink water if it’s been filtered through the Brita. Especially when you don’t know what type of tap water you’ll have, add a Brita to your shopping list so you’ll have cleaner, great-tasting water in the apartment. The Brita Pacifica Pitcher® reduces Chlorine, Mercury, Copper, Zinc, and Cadmium ...which basically means you’ll be more likely to drink your 8 glasses of water a day because the water will taste better. (Grab the longlast filter so it’ll last a full 6 months/ 120 gallons.)
- Engineering Prints: This is the largest + most cost effective decor I’ve found. In our home, we have them as pictures of our kids, but I’ve also seen them done of places you’ve visited or things you love. If you don’t think your pictures will cut it, google free stock images and use something you find for free online. The full tutorial for editing + printing the engineering prints can be found here.
- Mirror: Unless you have your own bathroom, there may be a time when you need a mirror and your roommate just started their epic half hour evening routine in the bathroom. Whether it’s a mirror in your bedroom or just getting a large one for the living room that also works for decor, do yourself a favor and have an extra mirror on hand.
- Washi Tape: A lot of landlords are strict about putting holes in the wall, so finding decor you can tape up is a plus. There are a million different cute ways to use washi tape, especially with printed photos.
Here’s the googledoc my sister can share with her roomates if you want to make a copy and have an easy way to divide up your shopping lists!