Living with roommates can be a lot of fun and save you money, but it can also get complicated quickly. One of the biggest challenges is keeping organized, no matter how big or small a shared home or apartment is. To avoid conflicts and needless stress, it’s essential to have a few key organizational hacks up your sleeve. Whether you’re moving into an apartment in Austin, TX, sharing a house in Seattle, or living in a college dorm room, this guide will keep your shared space clutter-free.
1. Always put your belongings away
Although it can be convenient to leave items where they are instead of putting them away when you’re done with them, it’s also a surefire way to create unwanted clutter and unwanted arguments. If you want to stay organized with your new roommates, put everything in its proper place after use.
“When living with others, keeping an organized space can be tricky,” says Tracy Lynn of Declutter in Minutes. “Luckily, there is one rule that is easy to do and will keep your home neat and organized. Put your things all the way away. That means, instead of almost putting things where they belong when you’re done using them, put them completely away. This will ensure you have fewer items lying out giving the look of clutter and mess.”
2. Keep the entryway clean
Not only does a clean entrance give guests an excellent first impression of your apartment, but it also presents an opportunity for organization. You can use bins to store shoes, small baskets to drop the mail or a decorative dish for keys and small items. The organizing options for your entryway are endless.
Professional organizer Mikayla Bernstein also recommends adding hooks to your entryway for simple organization. “Hang matching hooks for each roommate to drop their jackets and bags. Damage-free Command Hooks are my go-to in rental apartments. Anthropologie also has some of my favorite monogrammed hooks for chic, personalized touch-to-wall storage.”
3. Take advantage of easy storage hacks
There are countless containers and tools available for keeping your belongings organized. These are absolute must-haves for any apartment. Taking advantage of storage containers, hooks, and shelves will help you arrange various items around your apartment, especially when you live with roommates.
“Sharing expenses is great, but sharing space can be a bit tricky, and some of our favorite hacks are those that make locating everyday shared items easier and everyday cleaning tasks a bit simpler,” according to Roomies, a site that helps people find roommates. “For example, having a storage pocket on the arm of the couch is a great place to stash remotes, and a key hook by the door is the perfect spot to store both car keys and a shared key (such as the mailbox). Another easy hack we love is not only keeping a shoe rack by the door, as well as a shallow bin to toss wet and muddy shoes into, to cut down on mopping.”
4. Establish “house rules” that you and your roommates must follow
A great way for you and your new roommates to keep your apartment organized is to come up with a list of rules that everyone agrees to follow.
“The most important tip is for all roommates to clean the apartment together,” according to Canadian Budget Binder. “Once they agree that the apartment is the way they want to see it daily, create a roommate house rule chart for the refrigerator or wall.”
5. Delegate cleaning assignments to share the load
One of the common pitfalls of sharing a home with roommates is that one person gets stuck doing most of the cleaning around the apartment.
“An easy way to prevent tension and potential disagreements down the road is to delegate the different cleaning tasks regularly, ” says Bess Wightman of Lights Planner Action. Having a planner or notepad to break down the tasks room by room, you can itemize everything that needs cleaning or maintenance and assign the person responsible for that task. This way, everyone is on the same page, and there is a central list you can refer back to to make sure everyone is doing their part.”
6. Use labels and containers to keep things organized
Not having designated spaces for items to go is almost guaranteed to lead to a messy apartment when you’re sharing a space with roommates. One way to combat this is by using labels to mark where items belong clearly.
“If you’re living with a roommate, one of the best investments you can make is a label maker,” says Nicole Booz of GenTwenty. “When sharing your living space with a roommate, it’s easy to blur lines of what belongs to whom and where it should go. Label everything, even when it feels silly, from food to cleaning supplies to your coat rack. Clearly define the space, and you’ll save yourself internal frustration and arguments down the line.”
Morgan and Mckenzie from the Mozie blog recommend using practical storage containers to keep everything organized.
“When living with roommates, you want practical storage solutions in your shared spaces,” they said. “Whether that be labeled baskets in your pantry, designated hampers in your laundry room, or baskets to put throw blankets, dog toys, or other miscellaneous items. Having assigned “drop zones” for items everyone shares is a great way to keep things neat in your apartment.”
7. Establish private and public property in your apartment
We’ve all heard of that roommate who thinks everything in the apartment is fair game. If you don’t want to share specific items with your roommates, make that clear as soon as you move in together.
“When you first move in, set out all of the items you and your roommate(s) have in each communal space, like the kitchen, living room, and bathroom,” says Katrina Hammer of House to Home. “Keep out only the items you are happy to share and either pack up duplicates for when you move again or designate them to a back-stock storage area. Items for personal use only are your responsibility to put away and should be kept in your room or a separately labeled tote, bin, drawer, or cabinet within a shared space. Once these items have been organized as shared or personal, establish what is still needed for the home to share and agree upon a budget together, fairly splitting the cost.”