New rental, new landlord, new roommate(s), new neighbors, not to mention all the changes to get used to with the start of school … Aghhh! When will all this newness and change end?
Hate to break it to ya, but it never ends. Life is about adapting, reevaluating and going with the flow. I can’t think of a better way to practice these important life skills than learning to live with and near other people! So, unless you plan on a life of living alone in the woods (and trust me, you will have some wild neighbors there too), keep reading…
Awww, yes, the honeymoon period — the beginning of every relationship (dating, marriage, roommates and neighbors), when everyone is on his/her best behavior, the excitement in the air is palpable and life together just seems so… perfect. That is, until you realize your roommate isn’t fond of paying rent on time or washing dishes after preparing an elaborate dinner. What about when your upstairs neighbors insist on practicing what feels and sounds like a dance routine or 10-piece band at 1 a.m., right above your bed each night?
Best way to extend the honeymoon period? Communicate! And when I say communicate, I don’t mean nasty Facebook messages, passive-aggressive handwritten notes or terse text messages. I mean old-fashioned face-to-face conversations. In my years as a mediator, I cannot express to you how much a regular ol’ chat with your roomies can successfully help share expectations, relieve misunderstandings and bring back that old excitement that once made you so eager to share a living space. Communication is most effective when done early, just as the mirage of the perfect roommate/neighbor situation is fading. And don’t forget your roommate may be bugging you because s(he) forget to empty the smelly trash, but s(he) may be annoyed by your perpetual habit of losing your house keys. Honeymoons and conflicts are two-way streets. Be prepared to hear not-so-perfect things about yourself and work to make the relationship better.
If you need a little back-up, ‘like’ the Community Housing Office’s Facebook page or swing by CHO’s office on the 3rd floor of the UCen to pick up a flier called “Tips for Communicating during House Meetings,” a “Roommate Success Guide” and a “Roommate Agreement” form. All are extremely helpful in organizing your thoughts and getting all your roommates on the same page of expectations and responsibilities.
As with roommates, the two key words for your relationship with neighbors are “respect” and “courtesy.” Remember the Golden Rule? For those of you who have forgotten, or worse yet, never learned — it is about treating others as you wish to be treated. Don’t like to be woken up at 2 a.m. with loud music? Think twice before you do this to your neighbors!
Does the thought of getting up in the middle of the night to request some peace and quiet from a neighbor’s apartment full of intoxicated, noisy strangers while wearing your jammies, retainer and glasses terrify you? It will (hopefully) take only one embarrassing event before you decide to exchange phone numbers with your neighbors and develop a plan for when noise and/or parties get out of control.
Developing a good relationship with your neighbors can be helpful when you need to borrow a pencil sharpener or cup of sugar, but also when there is suspicious activity happening near your rental. Theft seems to be on the rise in Isla Vista, especially as people are getting settled and are forgetting the importance of locking windows and doors. Keep an eye out for each other, and if you notice something doesn’t seem quite right, act on your instincts!
Tried talking to your roommate(s) or neighbor(s) when something is buggin’ you and it didn’t quite work out like you thought it would? CHO is here to provide guidance about conflict resolution. Additionally, our mediation program (available to all UCSB students, faculty and staff), is a great service to utilize if you find that you need a neutral third party to help get the conversation started.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”— Maya Angelou
Maya Salmon is the program coordinator at UCSB’s Community Housing Office.