If you’re coming to the United States to go to school, and have decided to rent a room from a host family, you’ve made a great choice! Many of the families who rent out rooms on Roomdock are looking forward to making connections and sharing their culture.
By following a few common courtesies, you can make sure that you’re a top-notch renter and that things go smoothly in your new household.
Here’s 12 courtesies that Americans appreciate when they’re renting rooms to students.
1. Clean up your clutter
You might not think much about putting your shoes away once you’ve kicked them off in the entryway after a long day on campus. But, your housemate might not notice them there and trip over them, which can be annoying. Keeping a home free of clutter is important for many people. That means corralling your books and study guides so they’re not splayed out in the living room and putting away kitchen utensils after you’ve used them so they’re not taking up space on the kitchen countertops.
2. Be sure to clean your room
It’s worth having a conversation with your host about how tidy you should keep your room. If you’re in a private room, and keep your door closed, your host likely won’t mind if your room gets a little messy. But, there’s some sanitary issues that are important to consider. For example, don’t leave dirty dishes in your room as they can attract bugs. A new study also shows that dirty laundry left strewn about can attract bed bugs. Also, it’s important that you do routine chores in your room, such as vacuuming. Otherwise, when you move out, the room will be dirty and the tenant may retain your deposit because they’ll need to hiring a cleaning service.
3. Communicate with your landlord on how you’ll be paying rent
It’s important to pay your rent on time. Otherwise, you can risk being charged fees every day that your rent is late and even risk eviction. Paying rent late could negatively affect the relationship you have with your landlord because they don’t want to nag you to pay. Communicate with your landlord on how they want to be paid. Most will prefer checks, so it’s important to set up a bank account as soon as you arrive in the United States. If you have to order checks, ask your bank for a sheet of temporary checks that you can use while you’re awaiting your checks to arrive. This is a good resource if you’re looking to set up a bank account in the United States for the first time.
4. Ask about a laundry schedule
If you’re renting a room in a house that has access to a washer and dryer, consider yourself lucky. You won’t have to squirrel away quarters to take to the laundromat. But, your roommate will definitely appreciate if you ask about their laundry schedule. Many people like to do their laundry at a certain time each week, so it’s best to inquire about what time slots are available for you to wash and dry your clothes. Also, if you’re sharing a laundry room with housemates, be sure to do your laundry all at once. It can be frustrating for your roommate to finish a load in the wash only to find you’ve abandoned a load of your laundry in the dryer.
5. Take off your shoes
Since many American households are carpeted, homeowners often appreciate you taking your shoes off. If you don’t want to go barefoot, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a pair of socks or purchase some house slippers to wear around the house.
6. Chip in on shared household items
You and your roommate can decide whether you’ll share food, like fruit, veggies, snacks, lunch meat, etc. But there’s lots of household items that are shared, and it’s not fair if one housemate gets stuck buying them every time they run out. Examples in the kitchen might include commonly used food items like butter, jam, olive oil, salt and pepper or sauces. Other more general household items might include toilet paper, paper towels and household cleaners. Ask your housemate if you can pitch it and pick these items up the next time you go to the store.
7. Offer to make a meal
While this won’t be expected by any means, it’s certainly a nice gesture, especially if your host family has gone out of their way to make your stay comfortable. This is also a great opportunity to share a piece of your culture, whether it’s a family meal or a dish that’s unique to your country.
8. Be sure to vacuum
It’s important to keep your room clean and to pitch in when it comes to cleaning shared spaces, like the kitchen, bathroom or living room. But cleaning should go beyond dusting and putting away clutter. Doing things like vacuuming, scrubbing sinks and cleaning out the refrigerator can help a home stay in good condition.
9. Be especially conscious if you’re sharing a bathroom
It’s almost a joke in America, but a big pet peeve for many is when a toilet paper roll runs out and it’s not replaced. It only takes a few seconds, and it’s a common courtesy to replace the roll. Beyond toilet paper, though, make sure you’re not leaving hair in the shower or the sink and that you’re cleaning up any soap or toothpaste residue from basins.
10. Respect their sleep habits
It’s a good idea to inquire about the sleeping patterns of those with whom you’re living. That way, you can be extra quiet if you’re coming in from a late night on campus and know when the household quiet hours are and respect those by not playing music and turning the volume down on your computer or television.
11. Ask before you borrow
Oftentimes, host families will be more than willing to let you borrow their household appliances. But it’s always a good idea to ask before using something that doesn’t belong to you. Also, return it in the same condition you borrowed it in.
12. Be reasonable about guests
Again, host families will oftentimes want you to feel at home and many are open to you bringing over friends or study buddies. But, it’s a common courtesy to ask before having anybody over. Also, if you want to have an overnight guest, you should have a conversation first with your host family.