Nov 032009
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Like a caterpillar leaving its cocoon to become a beautiful butterfly, so too soon will the freshmen trapped in dorms emerge into the Fort Collins housing market, leaving behind the stinking husks of byproduct known as the dorms.

Likewise, many non-freshmen students may be moving soon. The reasons are many — perhaps you’ve violated our quaint little blue law, 3-Unrelated. Perhaps a former roommate has decided that rent was more of a your-problem thing and fled. In either case, both you and the freshmen have something in common — you need to find a new place.

The first thing you’ll need is to decide if you want roommates or not. The obvious advantage of roommates is that you can steal things from them when you run out of your own stuff. That and splitting rent. You could get an apartment small enough so that splitting rent is not an issue, but the living conditions at such places are not for the claustrophobic or particularly tall.

Most college students are going to have roommates, and you’ll need to select yours carefully. A time-honored tradition is to select carefully from your social circle, picking who you would most enjoy spending time with and who is a good match for your lifestyle. An even more time-honored tradition is to pick your roommate via a mixture of proximity and desperation and later find out you are comically mismatched.

Next you’ll need to find a place to live. You should start this process at least six months before you move out so you can live someplace that’s actually convenient and affordable. I’ll go more on depth in this in a future column, as we both know you’re going to start looking a week or two before all your stuff has to be in boxes. I’ll be around then with a fresh, “I told you so” style column.

So, you’re moved in to your new place with your new roomies. You could try to make friends, find hobbies in common and bond with your new roommates. This is a losing strategy. The shared living spaces — particularly the kitchen and the bathroom, are about to become a war zone, and you don’t want to lose.

One way is to prepare a shared “chore chart,” where everyone is given a responsibility to care for in the shared living spaces. If you design the chart yourself, you can make sure you get cushy jobs that no one will ever actually notice if you don’t do. Assign your roommates to trash and dishes duty, while you volunteer to take the recycling all the way out to the recycling center. Hint — no one ever looks in an attic.

The bathroom, while a marked improvement over the horrors found on Saturday morning in the dorms, is unfortunately now the responsibility of you and your roommates. If you make the mistake of cleaning the bathroom once out of a show of good faith, it will be assumed that you will continue to do so until the end of time.

The trick is to make a roommate clean it first, thus making it forever their responsibility. There’s lots of underhanded ways to do this, but you don’t want to scare off prospective mates (which is, let’s face it, the real reason you tried to move out of the dorms in the first place).

The end of the dorms may seem like a long way off, but remember, it’s never too early to start developing the kind of attitude that will put you ahead of your new potential roommates. After all, it’s your first chance to really be a grownup, and you wouldn’t want to mess that up with compromise and hard work.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior undeclared major with a physical and mathematical sciences interest. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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