Want to avoid ‘The Real World’ drama in your home? These things can help
Make living with strangers (and friends) a little more polite
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It was 1992, and nothing was more exciting than trading in your cassette tapes for CDs, rocking some high-waisted jeans and wishing you were one of seven strangers picked to live in a loft “to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.”
Nearly three decades later, fans of The Real World: New York—the MTV show that essentially launched the reality-TV craze—will get the chance to catch up with those original seven strangers when “The Real World Homecoming: New York” premieres March 4 on Paramount+.
Though we’ve wised up to the realities of living with a group of seven strangers (hello, endless dishes!), we still face many similar challenges: Learning to trust, share and communicate with our housemates. Sharing a living space is never easy, even when the cameras aren’t around to catch every bad behavior.
Looking back on 33 seasons of “The Real World” will probably remind you how lucky you are to have a roommate who shares your taste in TV shows and replaces the toilet paper roll. Want to keep them around? Here are seven essentials to smooth any shared living situation.
1. Sound machine for privacy
Are you a light sleeper living with a snorer (or vice versa)? Give you and your roommate a feeling of distance with a sound machine. Reviewed’s favorite is the Sound + Sleep by Adaptive Sound for its noise blocking, a mode that adjusts volume according to the surrounding noise level and 30 sounds that can be layered. Enjoy the sound of crashing waves? Add seagulls and seals on top. It’s a bit more pricey than some other sound machines we reviewed, but blocking out your roommate’s midnight phone calls makes it a sound investment.
2. Chore chart for a clean house
Writing something down makes it more official, and the unfortunate task of scrubbing the toilet is imperative to keeping everyone feeling fresh and clean at home. If you want the toilet brush to get a regular workout, try a chore chart to keep your household accountable. This dry erase magnetic board is pre-designed as a chart. You can list each chore, which day of the week it needs to be done, and color code the work with five dry erase markers. It’s marketed for kids, but adults need reminders to sweep the kitchen, too.
3. Smart dimmer for efficiency
Get a regular scolding from your housemate for leaving on the lights? Get more efficient and keep the peace with a dimmer kit. We prefer the Lutron Caséta Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit. Caséta switches make bulbs or home fixtures smart and the dimmer setting means your lights fade on and off. Lights can be controlled by a dimmer switch, the Lutron app, a remote, or by voice assistant. This dimmer system and its app can be connected to and controlled by Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home.
4. Draft stopper for good rest
Is your roommate always sweating while you’re shivering under five blankets? Perhaps they need complete darkness, and you like a little nightlight in the hallway. A draft stopper can help solve both problems, keeping light and cold air out of bedrooms. This MAGZO 32-inch door draft blocker can be placed at the bottom of your bedroom door and hung in a closet when not in use. It also comes with adhesive to stick the stopper to the door if you want a tighter fit.
5. Meal planner to save money
When you look in the fridge and see a bunch of random vegetables and some questionable cheese, it’s easy to drop the $25 on takeout and watch some Netflix in your room. Instead, plan to save the bucks and spend some quality time preparing a home-cooked meal. This “What’s for Dinner” notepad helps you plan your meals and create a shopping list for each week. Each pad comes with 50 sheets and includes a magnet for easy access on the fridge. If the thought of writing everything out and planning is too daunting, going in on a meal kit delivery service means you can bond in the kitchen without the grocery store hassle.
6. Multiple-device charging station to keep the peace
If the phrase “Have you seen my power cord?” grates your nerves after hearing it every day, maybe it’s time to make charging devices a little simpler at your home. Instead of fighting for outlets and cords, try a multi-device charging station in the living room. And since it’s going in a communal space, it better be cute, too. This charging station from Great Useful Stuff can charge up to five devices at the same time, including three phones, one tablet and one laptop. It is compatible with multiple brands and comes in finishes from bamboo to camo to black leather.
7. A 90s trivia game for fun times
Once you’ve got your devices charging and chores done, set aside time to have some screenless bonding time with your roommates. Since we’re feeling nostalgic, how about Buffalo Games’ “Hella 90s Pop Culture Trivia Game”? The game features more than 400 fashion, movie, TV and music trivia questions and comes with a special game soundtrack on Spotify. Or you could throw on “The Real World Homecoming: New York” in the background, sip some Zima and reminisce about how all of your hairstyles have improved in the last few decades.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.