What are the best home products to buy when living with roommates for the first time?

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Group Chat is In The Know’s advice column, where our editors respond to your questions about dating, friendships, family, social media, wellness, shopping, beauty and beyond. Have a question for the chat? Submit it here, and we’ll do our best to reply.

Hi Group Chat,

I’m moving into a new space and will be living with roommates for the first time. Do you have any tips and home product recommendations that’ll make life with roommates better for all of us?

Sincerely, First Time Roomie

Alan Lewin, who has lived with plenty of roommates (up to five at once!) all in a varying amount of square footage, says: If we’re talking from 1-3 roommates, a lot of people don’t think about how many coats three people can own and will need to use every day! Come winter, your entire entryway can be flooded with coats and scarves. Or come spring and everyone nailed their spring jackets this year; where are you going to put all those denim jackets??

If you have space, a folding clothing rack (like how costumers on movie sets have) is an absolute winner for bringing into the apartment. You’ll be the most loved roommate because no one will have to take up space in their closet with big winter coats. Plus, who likes taking their coats off in their bedroom? This clothing rack folds up, rolls around, and stores easily if you gotta move around a bit. Never underestimate the amount of space clothes take up!

Simple Houseware Heavy Duty Clothing Garment Rack, $44.87+

Credit: Amazon

Max Rutcofsky, who’s always trying to keep the peace, says: The best way to have a good roommate experience is to COMMUNICATE! Living with a new person and sharing a space together can definitely be a challenge. My best advice is to set some boundaries with that person from the jump, that way, you guys can be on the same page. Having a mature conversation about your differences is way more efficient than letting it build and build until you’re heated! I’d also suggest investing in a solid set of pots and pans for your kitchen – no one needs to fight over the one “good” pan being dirty! 

Always Pan, $145

Credit: Always Pan

Antonio Dahl, who swore never to have roommates again – at least until the rent is raised, says: You can’t trust your roommates. You might think you know them, at least until your apple juice is consistently lighter than the day before. This is why you need a personal mini-fridge to protect the food you bought with your hard-earned American-backed green cash. Also, let’s be honest: Nobody is going to clean that apartment of yours. You cleaned last week, and if you do it again, your roommates will expect it every time! Instead, outsource that job to a robot, a robot vacuum. Nowadays, they even have mopping bots! Now, just figure out which roommate will empty the robot.

TECCPO Mini Fridge, $116.97

Credit: Amazon

iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum, $249

living with roommates
Credit: Amazon

Ari Bines, who hates messy communal spaces, says: You absolutely need a shoe rack for the communal area. Shoes left in the middle of the room are the worst. You’d think your roommates would know better than just throwing their shoes at the coffee table and in front of the TV. They won’t. If you or all of you want to chip in for an affordable shoe rack from Wayfair, do it. That way, you can encourage your roommates and guests to not trek mud in and keep the communal space clear.

2-Tier 8-Pair Shoe Rack, $28.64

living with roommates
Credit: Wayfair

Taylor Bell, who has lived with one roommate for the past three years where almost everything runs smoothly, says: The key is to manage expectations, be mindful and speak up anytime there’s a problem. This has been crucial in helping me have a harmonious living situation. But when it comes to go-to organization items for the apartment, I have always found a mail organizer super useful. Not only does it help neatly store the mail, but it’s a central place where you and your roommate can keep track of important documents and utility bills. For example, this PAG Hanging File Holder is perfect for separating your mail. It comes with three separate storage slots and label panels for you to identify what belongs to who.

PAG Wall File Holder Hanging Mail Organizer, $23.99

living with roommates
Credit: Amazon

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