5 tips for living with housemates: a survival guide
Living with housemates can be some of the best years of your life, especially when you’re going through university. However, it’s not always the best experience, and sometimes you might find yourself with people who live very differently from you.
Moving out of home is extremely daunting, you become responsible for so many things that you haven’t had to think about before like washing, groceries and bills. So, when you’re living with housemates, you must work together to make the best of your living situation.
Finding a balance of morals that will suit every housemate is hard, but it is important so that you can live comfortably and share the space equally.
After experiencing a variety of good and bad housemates, I have come up with a list of moral-like rules that will help you get through living with housemates and even make you a better housemate.
Honesty is the best policy
Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to living with other people (most of the time).
You took their food from the cupboard because you were hungry? Just tell them. You used the last roll of toilet paper but didn’t have time to go to the shops? Let your housemates know, so they aren’t left toilet-paper-less.
Communicating and being honest as housemates is key. For example, when you need to borrow something, a phone charger, just ask to use it because it’s the right thing to do. When you ask, your housemates will respect that, and do it back.
One of the worst things you can do is not tell a housemate when they have done something that has frustrated you (when you have the right to be frustrated about it).
You’ll realise soon enough when every little annoyance you have suddenly becomes much larger because you haven’t said anything.
The people you live with might also be very busy, and forget it’s their turn to do something, or they simply just don’t have the time to do it. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to leave a note, or text your housemate letting them know.
Set those boundaries
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from living with housemates, it’s that you need to set those boundaries before it gets too late and your personal space becomes non-existent.
If you don’t make your housemates aware of when and where is too close, then they will never know.
Speaking of experience if your housemates don’t understand when you get annoyed then living can become an extremely painful experience.
If you’re anything like me, I love being social and sitting in the lounge room having a yarn, but I also love my me-time. So, when my door is closed, it usually means I don’t want to be interrupted, and I’m sure other people must feel the same.
I think this is something that all housemates should follow; when a bedroom door is shut it is more than likely that the housemate doesn’t want to be disturbed. If it’s urgent just knock on the door, and if it isn’t then maybe a simple text message to ask if they’re busy will do.
But if you’re living in a house where that isn’t the case and you find your housemates barging into your room whenever they feel like it (trust me it can happen), don’t be afraid to put a “do not disturb” sign on your door.
This feeds from honesty, if you’ve communicated clearly that you don’t want to be disturbed, hopefully, your housemates will follow that instruction.
What’s Yours is not Theirs
Ahh yes, you’ve signed a tenancy agreement together go you. But no, it doesn’t mean you now become siblings and everything you own your housemates own too.
When housemates become too comfortable with you it can really cause some issues, so you need to let them know what behaviour is acceptable and what’s not with the items that belong to you in the house.
One of the worst experiences I’ve had with housemates was in my first year out of home, I lived with a friend who constantly would go into my room and take my clothes, and jewellery without asking, and let’s just say it didn’t end well.
After a few fights and weeks of not speaking to each other, it took me a long time to trust that person again. I found myself getting so paranoid and anxious that they were going to take my things, it was all I could think about.
I hope for you it might not be items so personal like jewellery, but even if it’s a more general item like milk or cereal, borrowing once-off won’t be a problem. But, you don’t want to get stuck continuously buying things that other people are using, so don’t get stuck in that cycle.
This rule can count for many things, have those cupboard spaces where you’re happy to share things e.g. tea towels, washing powder, pots/pans etc, and keep the things you’re not wanting to share in your room.
The best way to think about this is if something would annoy or upset you don’t do it, the concept of treating others the way you’d like to be treated should definitely apply, which takes me to my next point of being considerate.
Whether you’re living with one housemate or five, you need to be aware that there are other people around you and you’re sharing the space.
Sometimes it can be pretty easy to forget that you’re living with other people and they need to use things that you have, so try to not be that person who leaves things lying around, and just clean up after yourself.
You will soon learn living with housemates, that everyone lives differently, particularly with different routines, and different cleaning habits.
If you try your best to be aware of what your other housemates are doing and their general schedules, it will prevent you from getting in each other’s way.
With cleaning habits, you will find that some housemates might be fairly careless and won’t clean up after themselves for days (try to not be that housemate) and some might be the total opposite.
You need to be prepared that housemates won’t always meet your cleaning standards, and that’s okay but just find a way to work together. Cleaning rosters and calendars are a great way to work around any problems you might have.
In my own experience, writing things on a calendar has helped my housemates and I stay out of each other’s way in the mornings when we’re getting ready for work or university, which has made everyone happy.
It’s all fun and games
One of the most important aspects of living with people is making sure that you can relax and enjoy each others company.
Bonding over movie nights, ‘family’ dinners, some of the best/worst reality shows or even Saturday night drinks. There are so many ways you can enjoy living with housemates, and it’s so crucial that you do enjoy where you live.
One of my all-time favourite things to do with housemates is play card games and board games, although it shows some very competitive sides of people (myself included) it’s always a bit of fun.
‘The 5-second rule’ board game is one of the most entertaining games to play, and I guarantee you will be left in stitches laughing. If you need something to break the ice, or you know your housemates are stressed and need to have a bit of fun for half an hour, then this will do the job.
To make sure you have this time, you can set a day every week or every fortnight where you designate this time together. For example, a Sunday night dinner and games night is perfect, because you know you’ll see your housemates and won’t feel bad if you don’t see them as much during the week.
If there’s one thing I know, it is that living with housemates can be hard and like anything, some days are much better than others. With these five simple tips, you will be on the right track to effectively share the space you’re living in while creating a happy environment in the house because after all it is your home and you want to feel comfortable and happy there.