Whether you want to be in the situation of being in a shared household or bigger reasons like your financial circumstances mean that you have to co-habitat, living with housemates is never a straight forward easy journey. Regardless of whether you’re living with friends or strangers, here are some handy tips as to how to live in a shared house, without anyone ‘accidentally’ dying in the process…
This is obviously a biggie, and no house will avoid drama if open communication is not happening. Honesty from the start is always the best policy. Letting things build up with housemates, whether it’s the fact they don’t clean up after themselves, or the fact they went and bought a bird called Jay-Z without letting you know (and let’s say, you really don’t like birds. Like, you really actually hate them and you already have a rabbit called Kanye and what’s next, a snake called Beyonce?!) It doesn’t lead for a healthy environment if housemates are not expressing what they are feeling. I’m not talking about sitting down over rainbow cupcakes, holding hands and crying about how you feel (unless you want to) but if you just politely and calmly express what may be bothering you and take criticism as well as you can give it, well things may just shine a bit brighter if your household.
2. Work out money/furniture issues from the start
Who has the responsibility to transfer the rent? Are all bills split evenly? Are you buying groceries together or separately? If someone provides a fridge and then they have to move out, will they take the fridge? You get my drift.
3. Establish ground rules
I’ll tell you an extremely sad tale. I buy my groceries separately from my housemates because I’m a ridiculously fussy eater. After a long day of interning in Sydney all I wanted to do when I got home was indulge in a bowl of ice-cream and a really stimulating show like….Kourtney and Kim Take Miami. I open the freezer, and my ice-cream is gone. My 2-litre tub, which I managed to get about two milkshakes out of in the past had vanished into thin air or rather one of my housemates mouths.
4. Make a cleaning roster!
That has an exclamation mark, because look there’s nothing exciting about a cleaning roster, so something has to give. To be sure the housework is distributed evenly and no one feels like they’re the only ones ‘getting shit done’ (in the eloquent words of one housemate) draw up an equal cleaning roster. I live with three other girls so we have it figured out, kitchen for one, bathroom for the other, floors for the third and the 4th one gets a week off. Easy peasy. No complaints and a happy, clean home.
5. On the subject of rosters and working out money issues...
Have a roster for who buys the necessities. Even if you buy separate groceries, there are always those little things like toilet paper, dishwashing liquid and tissues that should be divided up equally amongst the household. 6.The ‘significant other’ dilemma. Say your housemate/s have a partner. And the partner likes to come over often. They use your Internet, water, electricity etc. Depending on the frequency of this, significant other rules may have to apply. Do they chip in for groceries say, if they’re eating your food? They just downloaded numerous movies and TV shows and low and behold your Internet downloads are done for the month. Do they contribute to that bill? Have an open discussion with your housemate (and their partner) about what you’d expect, and what they’d expect from you in that situation. Other significant partner issues may be that creak of the bed, and by creak I mean the bed furiously hitting the wall in the throes of a 3am love-making session. I’m still not sure on how to handle this one apart from tired hysterical laughter. I’ll get back to you.
7. The shut door policy
If a bedroom door is shut, it’s alone time for whoever’s in there. And God forbid, same for the bathroom. Considering I live with friends, and we’re all very social with each other it’s not a housemate situation where you just live with someone and not hang out. Sometimes, just SOMETIMES however, alone time is needed. That’s where the shut-door policy comes in. If my door is shut and I’m attempting to nap, do an assignment or just watch trashy TV shows (I know, the hard life of a uni student) it generally means that I don’t really want to hear a rant about your day, not until later on anyway. I have a housemate that talks A LOT. And repeats her stories A LOT. The shut door is the polite way of saying ‘I love you, but please fuck off for a little bit.’ Needless to say it also counts when significant others are over, and chances are if I’m in the bathroom with the door shut I’m generally half /fully naked so please don’t come in.