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10 handy products to smooth the snags of roommate life

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In New York, most of us have lived, currently live or will eventually live with a roommate in order to offset some of the financial burden. While some of us are natural housemates, others may need a little more help. Who are we kidding? Everyone needs more help. Below are a collection of gadgets, services and apps to help make cohabitation as easy as possible. 

NOISE-CANCELLING HEADPHONES

Just because your roommate's an amateur drummer and loud-sex enthusiast does not mean you have to listen to every beat and moan, and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones are the kind of investment that'll save you from a possible homicide conviction. If you're willing to shell out for the top-of-the-line model, this version from Bose is comfortable and will last for 35 hours on a set of batteries. Bose.com, $269.95

That said, if you can’t afford to drop nearly $300 on headphones, this less expensive alternative from Sony is another option. While the soundproofing function isn't as well-developed, they may do the trick until the lease is up. Amazon.com, $41.99

SHOWER CADDY

Three different bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and facial cleanser gets to be a bit much in one shower stall or tub, so the most courteous option for roommies sharing a bathroom is to keep everything in your room. Hence, this mesh shower caddy. (It's also a great idea if you use pricey products and don’t want your flatmate dipping into your supply.) This one is inexpensive, durable and dries out quickly, unlike bulky plastic caddies that hold water in impossible to reach crevices (remember the ones from college?). Bed, Bath and Beyond, $12.99

PROFESSIONAL CLEANERS

Save yourself from the piles of dishes in the sink and that weird gunk that accumulates behind the toilet—as well as the passive aggressive notes and hours complaining to your friends. Hire professional cleaners to whip your place into shape, and split the cost. It's not a huge extravagance, and you can schedule a cleaning as often as you like. Homejoy.com (app seen above), $25 per hour, $5 additional for supplies, tip not included; MyClean.com, $110 per cleaning; Handybook.com, $54 for a two-hour cleaning every two weeks, tip and tax included.

CHORE BOARD

If a cleaning service is going to break the bank, an effective and inexpensive alternative is a chore chart dry erase board. Each person is assigned a magnet color, and the chore and the day it should be completed is indicated. This system also makes it easy to rotate chores, so one person isn’t stuck cleaning the bathroom every week (unless, you know, that's your jam). Make sure to post the board in a place where it's clearly visible, so no one can claim that they “forgot” or “didn’t know.” Office Depot, $9.99

MOBILE APPS

The Chorma app functions as a digital chore board. After creating a list of duties, you can assign them to each person in the household. Roommates are invited to join the app via email, and the status of tasks are updated in real time. Better yet, if you pay for the pro version or buy a yearly subscription, each person can earn points by completing chores and redeem them on individual or group rewards like a free pizza or movie tickets. Chores can also be programmed to repeat on a weekly or daily basis, and you can also auto-rotate chores for members of the household. iTunes AppStore, free / $1.99 per month for pro / $19.99 per year for the whole household

The Venmo app is a lifesaver when it comes to splitting bills with roommates, and it's just as easy as sending a text message. As long as your housemates are using Venmo, you can send payments to specified contacts using a bank transfer, debit card or credit card. You can also request payments from contacts. Venmo stores your transaction history, so it’s easy to see if you already paid your roommate for half the electric bill. No more mental tallies needed. iTunes AppStore and Google Play, free to download; most bank account and debit card transfers are free, while credit card payments are 3 percent of the amount paid

LABEL MAKER

If you're living with several people or just want to make sure that your cookies remain your cookies, labeling your food is a necessity. Instead of going through Sharpies like it’s nobody's business and writing your name on every box, can and jar you purchase, just use this nifty little label maker, from Brother. Press "print," and the work's done. Staples, $34.99

BEDROOM BEAUTY ORGANIZER

It’s all happened to us. You wake up and think, “Today’s going to be great!” And just as you’re about to head to the bathroom for your morning shower, your roommate scurries in and slams the door. Inevitably, you're late for work, fail to put on deodorant, and sit through that mega-meeting with breakfast remnants smeared on your chin. Nip the bathroom-hogging disasters in the bud with this over-the-door vanity station (with a mirror on the front), which holds the essentials like hairbrushes, make up and deodorant and plenty of other stuff you'd rather keep away from the shared bathroom. Wayfair.com, $181.03 

BEDROOM DOOR LOCK

If you’re living with a complete stranger or if your roommate’s cohabitation philosophy is “what’s yours is mine,” the best way to put your mind at ease is with a real, locking door. This electronic keypad lock is sturdy, easy to use and—maybe best of all—doesn’t add another key to your undoubtedly cluttered keyring. It can be installed on a bedroom door, but make sure you run the idea by your landlord/super, as some may have an issue regarding fire safety. Home Depot, $99.97

Related:

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6 tips for a successful NYC apartment share

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