Living with roommates is more than just split bills, rent and space. Unfortunately, this closeness brings with it a higher risk of transmitted infection during the pandemic. One of the most significant disagreements that roommates have in their cramped apartments is how to correctly social distance. Whatever your relationship with those humans you live with, establishing these 5 key rules can help you reduce both physical contact – and heated conflict.

1. Discuss boundaries while living with roommates

Boundaries take on a new meaning and are critically important in a time like this. It may be that you and your roommate disagree on quiet hours and cleaning regimens during “normal” life, but a pandemic calls for some necessary changes. It’s healthy to maintain open communication with your roommates regarding social distancing and person-to-person interactions.

Due to the health hazard that coronavirus presents, you and your roommates must read from the same page regarding social distancing and sanitizing. You can openly talk to your roommate if you feel uncomfortable with the idea of them stepping out often and meeting people for leisure.

One common problem is having to deal with your roommate’s significant other spending more time in your apartment. Be honest and open about your apprehensions with your roommate. It’s a good idea to set a few healthy boundaries while living with roommates so that both of you feel secure in your home.

2. Make a pact to stay home

Being serious about staying home means no family visits, no vacations, and no balcony parties. You can consider putting it down in a roommate agreement for the benefit of all your housemates. If your roommates do not take this seriously, explain the consequences to them. The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t look at age, gender, or financial stability. It can happen to anyone – regardless of where they live and what their living situation is like. The least you can do for yourself and the people around you is practice social distancing and regularly sanitize your hands whenever you go out.

Related – How Coronavirus Has Impacted Rent Prices In U.S. Cities

3. Come up with a contingency plan to stay safe

Be prepared in advance! You should devise a contingency plan in case any of you gets affected by the coronavirus. Even if you’re practicing strict safety measures, it’s still possible to contract the virus, especially if one of you is an essential worker.

Think about what you’ll do if someone falls ill? Will this person quarantine in his or her bedroom? What about washroom visits? Will this person be allowed kitchen visits? Or will a roommate leave meals outside their bedroom door?

This conversation while living with roommates could be uncomfortable and scary, but it’s necessary. If you have a small apartment, your plan needs to be very creative, possibly with one roommate leaving the apartment altogether. The conversation should include finances; maintain an open dialogue with your landlord and consider requesting a payment extension if you’re facing financial issues.

4. Living with roommates calls for a cleaning schedule

With COVID-19 pandemic raging, promote new routines, especially if your roommates go weeks without Clorox. Choose one day of the week to deep clean and disinfect and share the responsibility while living with roommates.

It’s a good idea to designate a space for dirty shoes, clothes, and items. You can immediately remove all your keys, phone, shoes, and clothes as you come back from the supermarket and prevent bacteria from tracking the entire apartment.

5. Designate individual spaces for work

Some roommates in the apartment may be working from home, and it’s wise to designate a suitable workspace in your apartment.

If someone is continuously on their phone, it may be worthwhile to give them a room with a door. You may also need to establish quiet hours. Try to keep an open mind and remain flexible, as the pandemic situation is temporary and will soon subside.

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