If you're looking for a roommate in a busy city like Toronto or Vancouver, chances are someone's told you, "Don't live with your best friend."
I heard his phrase countless times alongside terrible tales of 10-year friendships ending over dirty dishes and stolen clothes, but I'm living proof that you can live with your bestie in a Toronto-sized condo and still remain friends.
I've lived alone for most of my adult life, and now I'm successfully living with my best friend in a condo that would look familiar if you've ever lived in downtown Toronto or Vancouver.
In my university days, I lived in a single dorm, and in my third year, I moved in with a long-term partner, so I never really had the early 20s experience of bunking with my pals in a sorority house with sticky floors decorated with empty alcohol bottles.
After my long-term relationship ended, I lived alone in a two-bedroom condo in Toronto, but I couldn't help but feel that I missed out on the experience of living with a friend.
Fortunately for me, a recent move to New York City opened the door for me to share a tiny two-bedroom Toronto-style condo with my best friend.
Since we've been friends for over seven years and we were both moving to the same city where rent rivals Toronto prices, living together just made sense.
But we didn't go into living together lightly. We both thought it over carefully, and in the back of my head, tales of decade-long friendships crumbling over petty arguments scared me.
Luckily, living together has been a breeze — although there are a few things that really set us up for success.
Here's how you can keep the peace with your roommate when they happen to be your best friend.
Pick a roommate with a similar lifestyle
Two friends cheersing wine glasses.
You can't just live with any friend.
When it comes to living with someone, you need to pick a roomie with a similar lifestyle to yours.
For example, if your best friend parties five nights a week, regularly comes home at 3 a.m. and is a clean freak while you like to go to bed early and leave a mess behind you everywhere you go, chances are you're going to butt heads.
Now, that doesn't mean you aren't compatible as friends. It just means living together may not be the best choice.
I have friends whom I love with all my heart, but I know that we wouldn't last as roommates because our habitats just wouldn't match up.
So when you're considering moving in with a friend, consider whether your lifestyles would be cohesive under one roof.
I knew my friend and I would work as roommates since we have similar sleeping patterns and decor preferences and we both love our alone time. She also loves my cat like her own child, and we have compatible communication styles.
Find someone whose definition of clean matches yours
Dirty dishes in a sink.
Cleanliness is a huge deal when it comes to living with someone, and not everyone has the same definition of "clean."
If you're someone who needs their home to be dusted, swept and mopped every day to feel comfortable, you won't love living with someone who leaves their dishes to soak in the sink for days on end.
Before moving in together, my roommate and I talked about our cleanliness preferences and how often we like chores around the house to be done.
We both like going to bed with a clean kitchen and living space, so that's something we both prioritize. So, while I take out the big trash can, she takes out the bathroom trash can.
But just because we split the chores up evenly doesn't mean we don't take care of each other.
Oftentimes, if I have a late night with work or grad school, she'll tidy up any mess I may have left on the counter before I get home, and if she leaves her dishes in the sink while heading off to work, I'll wash them up with mine.
We don't need to measure things tit for tat when our standards are about the same since we end up both putting in equal effort to keep the house clean and hospitable.
Plan time to hang out outside of living together
Dinosaur skeletons in a museum lobby.
Living together and hanging out aren't the same thing.
A friendship is still a relationship, and you need to put effort into it for it to grow and thrive.
My roommate and I actively make plans to hang out, whether that be watching a movie together and painting pumpkins after work or planning a museum visit on the weekend.
When you live with someone, it's easy to interpret everyday activities as quality time together, but if all you're doing is folding socks together and passing each other in the hallway, that isn't much of a friendship.
So just because you're roommates doesn't mean you should stop acting like friends.
Make sure you're on the same page about pets
Wila the cat laying on the floor in our apartment.
I have a small cat, and luckily, my roommate loves animals, so this hasn't been an issue.
But I do have friends who aren't animal people (I recognize how uncommon this is these days, but it does happen).
So, if you have a pet or might want to get one, you need to do your due diligence before moving in with your friend and have a conversation on how they feel about pets and their behaviours.
Are they allergic? Do they hate cats on counters? Are they just not pet people in general?
My roommate and I had the conversation beforehand and decided that my cat Wila wouldn't be allowed on counters, I'd make sure the litterbox area was kept tidy and odourless, and my cat wouldn't go in her room since she has a penchant for scratching headboards.
In return, my roommate spoils her rotten with pets and playtime in the living room.
Having this conversation on pet boundaries beforehand saved us from a lot of potential fights.
Take accountability and address issues head-on
No one's perfect, and sometimes you're going to leave the living room messy or wake your roommate up coming in late, but you need to apologize when you're wrong.
If you've been a less-than-perfect roommate, apologize and take accountability for it.
Keeping the lines of communication open is so important. It may be awkward to bring up something that's bothering you to a friend at first, but addressing the issue will help prevent problems in the long run.
When you hold your tongue and bury grievances, you're just going to build tension and resentment, which isn't conducive to a happy friendship or roommate-ship.
So if something bothers you, bring it up, and if you've done something wrong, apologize and do better.
Living with your friend is basically a constant sleepover if you do it right.
Just make sure you treat them and your shared spaces with respect, and your friendship should remain intact even after you move out.