Tips to Win at Life in a Shared House

Resist, request, replace

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s food, shampoo, or expensive personal speaker, but if your unquenchable need for their stuff persists:

 

Resist it. The best bet is always to leave your housemate’s possessions alone. Stop, drop, and get your own.

Request it. If you feel like you just can’t live without that artisan cheese on their shelf in the fridge, ask them in person or text and get the go-ahead before you indulge.

Replace it. Anything you take from your housemate, with or without permission should be immediately replaceable, and identical. Finish their cereal? Buy them a new box before their next breakfast. If you eat a handful of crisps they offer you, don’t sweat it, but if you’ve secretly used half of their body wash but didn’t technically finish it… do the right thing.

 

Do your dishes

It’s not hard and it makes everything easier. If dirty dishes are a major battleground in your shared kitchen, try these tips to minimise the damage:

 

Just do the dishes as you go! Clean everything you used right after you used it.

Prefer to do a big load of dishes all at once? You’ll have to pay for the privilege. Buy your own set of cooking and dish ware and keep them in an out-of-sight crate until you’re ready to clean them - this way your housemates have access to the dishes they need without having to deal with yours, and you can keep doing things in your own time.

Running really late and just out of time to clean your porridge bowl? Avoid frustration by popping your housemates a text and letting them know that you know you left it, then take care of it as soon as you can. If they’ve done it for you - remember to say thanks!

 

Make a food plan

Do not upset the delicate balance that is your food arrangement with your housemates. Agree early on how you’ll share or not share edibles to avoid frustration and starvation later in the game.

Share kitchen basics: Communal condiments, spices, and dairy will make sure these staples are used up before they’re expired and replaced quickly.

Have a communal “free shelf.” Everyone should have their own separate cabinet/box/shelf for the food they bought and no should should venture beyond their own space, but designate a “free shelf” to leave items that are up for grabs. If there’s always something free, people are less likely to dive into their housemate’s stash. Use the free shelf for items you can’t finish before you expire, foods you didn’t like, or you just want to share some biscuits because you’re such. a good. person.

Always leave enough for a final helping. Even if you have a lax food sharing policy in your house, if you’re eating something that you didn’t buy, always leave a healthy portion for the owner.

 

Be in the know

So many problems can be avoided by just letting the people you live with know what’s up. Whether you’re relative strangers or BFFs, set up a system to keep each other informed of everyone’s needs and plans, bill schedules, and what the crazy guy across the street is up to.

 

Make a community white board. Hang a large magnetic white-board in a shared space, and keep track of communal expenses, rent due dates, upcoming parties and visitors, and anything else everyone should be aware of. But remember, the white board is a place for information, not passive aggressive reminders.

Start a group text. If you’re chummy with your housemates, create a group text where you can keep in easy contact and share important information and laughs.

Create a shared calendar. If everyone in your houseshare has a smart phone, sync yourselves up to a common Google calendar so you’re aware of each other’s schedules - when rent’s due, who’s on holiday when, who’s got what chores when, and any other important events and plans related to the common space.

 

Make time for each other

Improve your environment and communication by setting aside some time to bond with your housemates. All good relationships take time and work, and even an hour a week can ease tension and bring you together.

 

Have a house meal. Nothing brings people together like a good meal, so once a week or month depending on your schedule, put aside a couple of hours to cook, eat, and wash up together.

Clean or shop together. Make undesirable tasks a little bit more fun and fair at the same time: take care of a communal tasks together! Avoid food confusion and get to know each other by doing the groceries together every week, or set aside an hour every week to tidy up together.

Get out of the house together. Make a note to grab a drink every now and then - getting to know each other away from home can dissolve some house-related tension.

 

Celebrate your common ground

What do you share besides your kitchen and bathroom? Use what you have in common with your housemates to create a more cohesive and inclusive environment for everyone.

 

Decorate. If there’s a TV show, band, or film everyone likes, put a poster in your common space. If you’re all travel fanatics, hang a map over the couch. Find something you can all identify with and feel part of a community when you look at it.

Share a treat jar. If everybody loves Jaffa Cakes, keep a tin in the kitchen to share, or if you’re health-nut types, keep a communal fruit basket.

Celebrate the holidays together. Schedule a few hours around Christmas to have a Housemate Holiday - exchange gifts and enjoy each other’s company during the season of giving and love.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Never forget that your housemates are people too, and give them the benefit of the doubt where you can. Treat them with the consideration you expect for yourself, approach them about problems the way you would want to be approached, and remember that you may not be the only one having a rough day. To work mutual respect and comfort into your houseshare, look at it this way:

 

Apply a 60/40 rule. Redditor awareOfYourTongue says it best: “Don’t expect the chores etc to be 50/50 - aim to make everything 60/40 (where you are the 60), and don’t feel resentful that you’re doing more. Just think - if you were living alone, you’d be doing 100% of the work.”

Accept that your priorities aren’t always their priorities. An empty sink may be important to you, but maybe your housemates couldn’t care less. In some cases, you have to accept that you can’t divvy up chores and responsibilities based solely on your preference. You may have to do a lion’s share of the work if your comfort is the only thing on the line.

Always extend basic courtesies. Say hi, don’t hog the shower if you all go to work at the same time, and offer food when you’re in the kitchen at the same time.