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Roommate Survival Guide: How to Maintain Your Privacy

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Living with a roommate (or roommates) has several benefits. The rent and household expenses are split, the household chores are divided, and if you get along with them, they can make a great company. But of course, there are also downsides to this kind of setup.

Even if your roommates are nice, considerate, and pick up after themselves, there is one main issue that is true for most people living in shared spaces–and that is limited privacy. The lack of privacy can make you feel uncomfortable in your own home, which can lead to more negative feelings like anger, irritation, and even anxiety. Needless to say, no one wants to feel that way in their own space.

To avoid this, here are some strategies on how to maintain your privacy when living with roommates:

1. Increase privacy from the outside world

Before you can increase privacy between you and your roommates, you have to start with increasing the privacy of the home from the outside world–especially if you live in a busy neighborhood or apartment complex. For starters, create a barrier between the home and the street by installing privacy fencing from a reliable company such as Trex Fencing – SRF.

It’s also a good idea to soundproof your home to minimize the noise coming inside and outside (this is especially important for apartments with thin walls). And if people can easily look into the windows from the street, buy sheer curtains that will give you some degree of privacy without blocking natural light from entering the windows.

2. Keep your things separate

For people living together, it’s quite easy to get belongings mixed up together. Sometimes, your stuff can end up in their space and their things can get into yours without anyone meaning to. It may not seem like a big deal, but having your stuff in each other’s area can blur the lines of personal space.

Prevent this problem from happening by keeping your belongings in your own territory. Aside from maintaining privacy between roommates, doing this will also save you the hassle of losing stuff in other people’s personal spaces.

3. Set clear boundaries

Most people pick up social cues and know how to respect boundaries that other people set without having to be told explicitly. A closed-door means knock first before entering. A running shower means wait until the person inside the bathroom is done. A dark bedroom at an ungodly hour means whatever they have to say or do should wait until morning.

However, there are some people that don’t pick up on these social cues easily or choose not to for whatever reason. Instead of waiting for them to notice that you’re uncomfortable with them stepping over your boundaries, it’s better to just sit down and have a talk. Set boundaries explicitly, outlining when it’s not okay to knock on your door and what time you go to sleep. This also gives you the opportunity to talk about having partners over; how often is it okay to bring them over and for how long.

woman laying down on a couch

4. Talk about your schedules

Everyone needs some alone time once in a while–without anyone else milling about the house or trying to talk to you. Unless you and your roommate leave the house and get home at the exact same time, take the time to discuss work schedules. In this way, you can determine when you can have the whole place to yourself to have some personal time or have a guest over without disturbing your roommate.

5. Soundproof your bedroom

No, this doesn’t mean outfitting your bedroom like a recording studio. There are more simple ways to deaden the sound coming in and out of your bedroom, such as:

  • Push heavy furniture against the wall
  • Hang tapestries, rugs, artwork, etc. on the wall
  • Seal the gaps in windows and the door
  • Use curtains and window treatments
  • Lay down area rugs

6. Establish guest rules

If your roommate is constantly bringing guests over, killing your privacy, and causing too much inconvenience, it’s time to establish house rules on guests. Come up with policies on how frequently guests are allowed to stay (and for how long), the expectations when it comes to clean-up, and times when guests are allowed to make noise. This will help you avoid friction and tension in your own home.

Lack of privacy is just one of the downsides of living with a roommate. But just like the other problems, it can be resolved. So if you think your privacy is suffering in your current set-up, start with these tips to maintain your privacy, as well as keep the peace between roommates.

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