Whether you’re a student or a young professional, just about to enter your first house share or right in the middle of it, there are a few things you should know about making the most of your living situation that go far beyond labelling your milk in the fridge. Here are a few top tips for keeping the peace in your house share.
Respect each other’s personal space
A fast track to disrupting house share harmony is using your housemate’s belongings without permission, or – an even worse offence – going into their bedroom without their consent. While the former is a potential financial burden, the latter involves crossing boundary lines.
A good way to avoid this is to, when in doubt, not touch your housemate’s things even if you’re pretty sure they won’t mind, and to make the most of your own space instead. If you’re content with your own bedroom, you won’t want to go nosing elsewhere.
Clean up after yourself
If you use up half the dishes making a five-course meal, wash up once you’ve finished eating. If you’ve spilled dry rice all over the kitchen floor, sweep it up. After your shower, hang the soppy bathmat over the side of the tub. In short, if you’ve made a mess, clean it.
For shared chores where the lines are a little more blurred, creating a chore chart can help make clear who’s responsible for what. By rotating responsibilities no one chore will fall on anybody’s shoulders, ensuring the utmost fairness.
Split utility costs fairly
While adding up all the bills at the end of the month and splitting the cost between housemates can be a hassle in terms of paperwork, it’s really the only way to ensure that everybody in the house pays their fair share. While there’s no real way to see who’s using up how much of each utility, you can, at the very least, make sure your bills are accurate by having a smart meter installed. That way you’re only paying for exactly what you use.
Always consult each other on key decisions
In house sharing situations it’s always easier to consult your housemates on key decisions beforehand, rather than deal with the potentially negative repercussions afterwards. After all, the house isn’t just one person’s property, so it only makes sense to work together where all-house matters are concerned. This includes throwing parties, having extra guests stay over and even arranging furniture in shared spaces. A group chat on Facebook or Whatsapp between you and your housemates will keep you all connected without having to congregate.
Pick your battles
The sight of your housemates’ day-old dishes in the sink might get your blood boiling, but before you launch into a full-on tirade it’s important to take a step back and consider that there might be extenuating circumstances, or that you and your housemate just have different priorities. It doesn’t make their momentary lack of respect easier to swallow, but it’ll remind you that it isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Save your energy for bigger and better things and remember that you’re all living together, and therefore will want to play nicely.
There are plenty of tips and tricks to follow, but if you do find yourself in a disagreement, remember that a touch of tolerance, patience and kindness will go a long way in making those tricky situations smooth sailing.