How to survive a shared house…

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There are many benefits to house or flat sharing. Not least of which is the massive savings it brings. As much as 50% of the cost of accommodation can be eliminated. Other benefits include:

  • Good company
  • Improved social life
  • Avoiding depression & boredom
  • Sharing boring duties such as shopping, cleaning, bill paying
  • Feeding your pets while you are away e.g. at your bf/gf/parents for a break
  • Improved safety in numbers

Personally, I see sharing as a future trend in Romania even though it is not popular so far.  It is a natural progression with rising inflation & cost of living.  There are some simple rules one should follow for a harmonious relationship. In no particular order, these 15 simple guidelines should help you not only survive and bear it, but positively enjoy the experience it brings:

 

1/ Chose your housemates carefully.

Don’t use a sense of charity to let someone into your home that you instinctively don’t trust but feel you should help. Never ignore your intuition. Use references, search social media, ask around. Spend time to get to know housemates before accepting them. Bring friends or trusted people to the meeting to get a second opinion. I recently saw a request for a housemate on a Bucharest expat site by a friendly chap & a quick look at his FB profile showed a strong tendency towards satanic beliefs & masochistic interests. Not everyones cup of tea as an ideal housemate, although for some, it would be.

You are not looking for a new best friend. This is simply someone you can co-exist with & be confident they will leave your stuff alone, not wake you at 2am with noises from their room, or wake you earlier than is acceptable to you in the morning. Someone who will respect the space. The perfect housemate is often in fact, invisible, except when you sit down to eat together once per week for example.

2/ Space planning

Make the most of personal space by having as much storage space as you need, using beds with built in drawers, taller wardrobes etc.  Also, in the lounge, if you have one, try not to fill it with furniture that encourages people to leave personal junk there, leaving their territorial mark, as it were. Better to have a simple, seating-only space rather than one with lots of areas that encourages junk.  I recommend against a lounge personally because it is almost impossible for all users to benefit equally & cleaning usually creates some issues. Instead, I prefer the kitchen & dining room to serve as the communal space. The sis a system that worked for me for many years successfully in many houses I shared.

3/ Respect each other

Again, this isn’t a friendship, so don’t take liberties with your housemates.

  • Treat the relationships as you do your work colleagues, even though your housemates may see your intimate lifestyle. Keep the line
  • Be polite.
  • Understand your priorities are not theirs.
  • Assume that you have to do 20% more than they do around the house & if everyone adopts that attitude, your efforts will overlap with your rewards rewards, e.g. you might do more kitchen cleaning but they might take the rubbish out more often.
  • Discuss issues in a weekly friendly forum & learn how to express yourself without exploding. Eg, when you play your music at 1am, it affects me because I am late for work.
  • Leave the bathroom & kitchen dry & clean.
  • Don’t use all the hot water by over showering.
  • If in a multi floor property, don’t walk on your heels (sounds like hammer blows underneath) but instead, lean slightly forward & use the flat of your feet to walk, or the ball, towards the front.  A quick habit to learn & saves a lot of stress because booming footsteps at 3am can drive anyone nuts.
  • Offer food when in the kitchen at the same time.
  • Don’t have personal phone calls in front of the tv or shared areas when others are using the space at the same time.

4/ Use technology

Communicate using smart aps. Use WhatsApp to have a common communication platform with all households members on a group chat. Its also a possible way to share common issues such as late night noise within the house.  Use a notice board in the property for all to see common information, e.g., for announcing bin collection day or cleaner day.  Use app such as Splitwise to record shared finances.

5/ Agree on common cleaning

To save disputes & keep harmony in the property, agree a strict routine in adance for common areas. Distribute the areas to different housemates. Use a rota to share the duties.  Even better, organise a cleaner each week.

6/ Organise shared finances

No one wants to live with someone who won’t pay their share or makes excuses all the time. Where possible, automate these into. common account or get the money in advance. Leaving this to manual collection is asking for trouble, sooner or later. Use google drive to share a spreadsheet or apps such as Splitwise.

7/ Automate household chores

Have a cash kitty for common cleaning materials. Set common bills to be paid automatically each month direct from a common bank, or reduce one persons rent & make them responsible for that bill, e.g. internet. The less manual input you have the less chance of future problems.

8/ Have a food sharing system

If you have a few housemates, its madness to have multiple lots of common foods, e.g. a fridge full of milk or eggs. Try to find common ground so such thing as bread does not go to waste. Use a special area of the fridge or cupboards to designate ‘help yourself’ for food that you know you won’t eat all of yourself. Eg, the bottom section of the fridge can be sued for fruit, veg & dairy that anyone can help themselves to. If one person regularly takes without contribution, flag it up in discussion & it should stop there.

9/ Hands off!

Resist the temptation of borrowing other peoples kit or food. Invariably it leads to ill feeling. Buy your own. Its one thing if its a quick loan of a hair dryer but something else if you are constantly borrowing a high value item, especially if it breaks in your custody. The same is true of food. Don’t be a ‘fridge b*****d’ by raiding the posh yogurts or blue cheese when no one is looking.

If you break something of someone else, own up. Don’t wait for it to be discovered.  And lastly, don’t ever, no matter what, enter someone else room without their permission. Under no temptation should you do this. If something valuable is missing you will be the first to be blamed & with hidden cameras in everything from teddy bears & alarm clocks to smoke alarms & fake car kets nowadays, one day, you will definitely be the star of youtube, 8gag & Instagram if you cross this taboo line.

10/ Choose your battles

Diplomacy is everything and you do not have to win every argument. Before you accuse someone, be very sure and even still, raise issues as questions rather than accusations. Do it in private, 121 rather than around a dinner table if the issue is a tricky one.  Sleep on things before you laugh into an argument. Consider the outcomes & act accordingly.

11/ Make time for each other

One of the main benefits of house sharing is the company it brings. Capitalise on this by having a weekly dinner party. Try to enforce rules such as no gossiping & adopting fairness to avoid cliques building up. Its true that 2 is better than 1 but 3 is a crowd & can easily end up with one person siding with another & handing up on the 3rd. Even numbers make for more balanced house sharing.

12/ Celebrate diversity & common ground

Rather than become annoyed by peoples unusual cultural or religious habits, try to find a positive in these & celebrate the diversity it brings to your life. If someone likes to cook song Asian food, have an Asian dinner party & let them chose the menu. Take time to learn about the culture & beliefs of your housemates just as you might of you were raised in their environment.  See this as a chance to grow.

13/ Make common spaces acceptable to everyone

Don’t leave persons junk in common areas, be that clothes, shoes, books, food, plates, glasses, ashtrays or even just car keys. Treat the space like a meeting rom at work. Use if while there, leave it clean immediately afterwards.

14/ Do your dishes

This doesn’t need to be explained. no one wants to live in someone else mess & this is the fastest way to deteriorate an otherwise great household mood by leaving pots & pans, coffee cups, cereal bowls etc lying around for extended periods. Even if they belong to you, treat it like flushing the toilet after you. Make sure its done before you move from the space.

15/ Agree at the start on the stay-over guests policy

If you don’t discuss this before the housemate moves in, it becomes very difficult to do so after. Renting to one person is not the same as to 2. An entire household dynamic can change because of the presence of a moody boyfriend or a grumpy girlfriend. Have a strict agreement on what is ok & what is not ok, e.g., max 2 nights per week for people to have an overnight guest.

Please share with us your views & experience.

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Sharing is hard. I think anyone who has lived with a flatmate for longer than two years is doing really well,” founder of The Good Manners Company , Anna Musson, told The Huffington Post Australia. “But things do change depending on what age you are.

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