29 Things You Can’t Do When You’re Living With Five Roommates

Once upon a time, Taylor wrote a list of 19 things she had learned about living alone for the first time. It was a good list. I, however, just did the opposite. After two years of essentially living alone (I lived with my jet-setting sister-level best-friend who worked completely opposite hours from me) I just moved in to a house with five other med students. As it turns out, there are some things you can’t do anymore once you move in with so many people.

she wishes this were a sex book but it’s not

1. Leave dishes for days
2. Walk around in your underwear
3. Walk around totally naked
4. Respond aloud to NPR as though they’re specifically talking to you
5. Cry openly on the couch
6. Eat boxed couscous for five consecutive meals
7. Leave the bathroom light on because of your secret fear of the dark
8. Do yoga anywhere any time in the middle of the room without explanation
9. Make loud sad kitten noises when you stub your toe
10. Wear the same clothes every day between 5 and 11pm
11. Let your friends smoke out the windows
12. Impulse order HBO because you really want to catch up on True Blood
13. Body Jam every time Bieber’s “Somebody to Love” comes on
14. Leave yourself affirmation reminder stickie notes around the house.
15. Pretend you work out
16. Watch porn at full volume
17. Masturbate at full volume
18. De facto move in with your girlfriend
19. Adopt a Great Dane puppy
20. Start a costuming project in the living room with no intention of finishing it or cleaning it up
21. Assume all pubic hair found in the bathroom is your own
22. Openly leave the AC on it’s coldest strongest setting all day and night despite having to actually bundle up a bit.
23. Drink an entire bottle of red wine alone for no reason without explanation
24. Stick flash cards to all the cabinets and drawers and force yourself to answer them before opening said cabinet/drawer
25. Roast marshmallows over the gas stove
26. Take a shower lasting longer than 20 minutes.
27. Read a sex book over breakfast
28. Put a full length mirror in the kitchen because that’s where the good makeup lighting is
29. Pay the rent on time

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. This list is brilliant.
    As someone currently living in a weird housemate half the week/alone the other situation I live in fear of forgetting when my housemate’s in and being caught doing two days worth of washing up while dancing to Bikini Kill in my underwear at midnight/doing any of the above.

    It hasn’t happened yet but I feel that I’m only putting off the inevitable…

  2. I feel like living in a house with ~5 other med students happened on Grey’s Anatomy.
    It is maybe a problem that this is not the first time today I’ve said “that happened on Grey’s” in response to a situation someone is in…

  3. Whaaaat? I’m pretty sure a lot of these are actually completely acceptable, at least once you get to know your roommates. Like, some of them still aren’t (leave dishes/projects out for days) but some of them should be (crying, ‘eveningwear,’ drinking whole bottles of wine) and some of them would be okay if you’re willing to pay up (HBO, long showers if you can find a time when nobody needs the bathroom).

    and some of them I don’t even understand why they would ever be a problem (toe stubbing noises, marshmallow roasting…are these not normal behaviors?)

    Should I rethink my entire roommate-behavior policy?!

  4. Although I love her, this list perfectly sums up why I’m sad my roomie is moving back in in two weeks. Except for number thirteen: I’d have to change that to “Call me maybe”. Try not to judge too hard.

  5. Re: 21, came back from a short weekend jaunt over to Chicago to find my roommate must have trimmed ALL OF THE PUBES ALL OVER THE BATHROOM and didn’t clean up.

    Shower. Clumps in toilet. Sink. Floor.

    I’m making him move out.

  6. Ah yes, good reminders. I’ve lived alone for three years and starting next week, will have three roommates. I guess it’s time for new breakfast reading material. Perhaps a book that I don’t have to turn vertical to get the centerfold to open correctly?

    • My mum bought me a dressing gown to stop grossing out my flatmates- ‘Wear this if you won’t wear clothes!’
      This year one came and ‘joined’ me epilating my legs in my room. He took of his pants and made appropriate noises. It was fun.

  7. oh, god. i do all of these things. this one got to me particularly :
    20. Start a costuming project in the living room with no intention of finishing it or cleaning it up
    i do this. a lot. i’m constantly convinced i am going to mend ALL THE THINGS. or occasionally i want to dress up like sandy at the end of grease or look like a sailor and get frustrated after 10 minutes of sewing / distracted by buffy.

  8. Also re: 17–I had a roommate whose full volume was so loud that we heard her a couple rooms away, over (softish) music. It sounded like a cat was dying.

    I just kinda assumed everyone learned to do that quietly and could default back to it when/if necessary?

  9. #26: you guys, THE PLANET. If you wanna be under water for that long, consider a bath? Coming from Australia (the driest continent, where we have only just resumed vaguely normal rainfall after a very long drought), I am gonna be that person who reminds everyone that water (clean, lovely, safe tapwater, the kind that not everyone on the planet has at their disposal) is something we should be more aware of our usage of.

    Also, I had 5 roommates for about a year and I’m pretty sure that most of those things wouldn’t have bothered most of us. But we were reasonably respectful of one another about mess/projects and dishes. Also, we had a sign in the bathroom that said (blondie song) ‘oooooooh, your hair is beautiful…..’ that made me sing ‘atomic’ in my head every single time and also think about checking the shower drain for hairiness (the sign’s intention).

  10. Just about to move in with 5 very straight girls who are basically complete strangers so this list is super relevant to my interests. However no amount of passive-aggressive roommate arguments will ever get me to stop #s 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 23 or 27 or my own personal 30: talking to myself/laughing maniacally while playing video games

  11. none of my old flatmates knew I was a lezzer. so I had a conversation with one of them that went like this:

    me: ‘oh, I’m thinking of going down to Brighton.’ (sort of England’s equivalent to San Francisco.)

    flatmate, immediately: ‘eh, Brighton’s full of gays.’ (no shit sweetie.)

    and I found myself pondering saying,
    ‘you know what, *our kitchen’s* full of gays.
    Because it’s you and me standing in here, so that gives us at least a 50% population…’

  12. Thankfully, I don’t have a roommate but I do share a bathroom with two other females (a stud and a straight girl). When they need to talk, they knock and immediately ask, “Dude, do you have clothes on?” Ahh, they know me so well. Though, yesterday I found blonde hairs in my razor (I’m a brunette) so that has me slightly disturbed. :-/

  13. I’ve lived with 5 roommates and we did some of this (or they would have been cool with some of the ones we didn’t). One of them didn’t eat boxed couscous all the time, but he lived off frozen fast food. His room was like an aquarium of cigarette/weed smoke. Nobody seem to care and I appreciated being able to smoke with him in the middle of the night.

    I miss them now :(

  14. Is walking around naked really a problem? Cause I’ve been doing exactly that for years. Sometimes my roomie and I hang out on the couch together, wearing nothing but boybriefs, watching Resident Evil and sharing a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s. I love her! :)

  15. “21. Assume all pubic hair found in the bathroom is your own” Hah! So true! Though the other day there was a hair in my tub that didn’t match my hair or the hair of the person other than me who last used my shower. It was a real mystery!

    Thanks, this list reminds me of why I should be so thankful to live alone. (Well, mostly alone. My kitten doesn’t seem to notice or judge me for my habits…)

  16. also:
    30. put calls on speaker while in the kitchen. even with the door closed. out-of-context anything is always read as weird/kinky/possibly criminal.
    31. know to whom belongs random underwear you find in your laundry. (I haven’t found an easy way to ask my roommate that, it’s just an indoor walk of shame)

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