Things to Consider Sharing With a Roommate

Don't waste twice the money and space on items you can easily split

Mixed race college students relaxing in dorm
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There are lots of things you are forced to share in college: a teeny tiny living space, a bathroom, and pretty much every place you go on campus that's outside of your residence hall or apartment building. When it comes to sharing with a roommate, it's understandable that many students want to keep certain things as their own, as splitting items can often seem like more of a hassle than a benefit.

There are a few things, however, that can actually be smart to share. You can save yourself time, space, money, and energy if you figure out what and how to share with your roommate in a way that is beneficial for both of you. And while the following items can work for most roommates in most situations, consider adding or subtracting items to better meet the needs of your individual roommate dynamics.

What You Can Split With Your Roommate

A printer and printer paper: Given that students turn in many of their research papers, lab projects, and homework assignments electronically these days, you may not even need a printer and printer paper—much less two sets of them. In addition to taking up a lot of desk space, a printer and printer paper can often be found in computer labs across campus. If you feel like you need to bring a printer and paper, check with your roommate to make sure he doesn't do the same.

A music player: Chances are your roommate and you both have your own music collections on a laptop, tablet computer, or smartphone. For those Saturday afternoons when you really want to crank it up, however, you can easily share a speaker system. After all, it's practically impossible for you both to be using a speaker for your music at the same time, which means that you'll only need one for the room.

A mini-fridge: Even the smallest refrigerators take up space, and having two small fridges in a shared room will make it feel cluttered. At the same time, however, you'll want to keep some dorm room basics on hand for quick meals or snacks. Sharing a mini-fridge with your roommate might be a good option. If you're concerned that a tiny fridge will be too small for both of you to share, buy one that's a little larger. Some of the larger "mini-fridges" might end up providing more space while taking up less room than two of the smaller ones.

A microwave: Microwaving a snack or quick meal takes only a few seconds or minutes. And if you or your roommate can't wait a minute or two while the other person is using the microwave, you're probably in for a rocky relationship. Consider sharing a microwave in your room or, if you're concerned about space, share one with other students on your floor or use the one in the hall kitchen if that's an option.

Some required books: Some books, like an MLA handbook or APA style guide, can easily be shared. You'll probably only consult them sporadically during the semester, so there's no need for you both to spend $15 for a reference book that neither of you is likely to use frequently.

Dishes: Sharing dishes can get a little tricky if you and your roommate are messy. But if you apply the if-you-use-it-you-must-wash-it rule, you can easily share some basic dishes. Alternatively, split the cost of a cheap stack of paper plates, which will take up less space while avoiding a mess and a chance of breakage.

Sports equipment: If you and your roommate both enjoy a pickup basketball game or the occasional Ultimate Frisbee match, consider sharing some equipment. This won't work, of course, if either of you play on a team. But if you just want a basketball around for a game now and then, keeping only one in the dorm room can save space and money.

Basic decorations: Suppose you and your roommate want to hang some white decorative string lights around your room. Instead of bringing these supplies from home, go shopping with your roommate after you've both moved in. Sharing decorations with your roomie can be a smart way to make your college home feel cozy and cohesive without costing a small fortune.