As I wrote this, I realised I’d not been the best house mate recently… sorry guys!
Since moving out of my parents house at the age of 18, I have lived with 26 different people. 15 of those were in university halls so it isn’t as horrific as it sounds. I’ve learnt a lot from living with all these different people. Mostly, I’ve learnt how to avoid huge disputes with fellow housemates (who are often friends as well.) So, here’s some advice:
- If you can, avoid living with best friends
Obviously, this is not the case for everyone. However, a lot of people find that their friendship suffers from living in such close proximity. You no longer get to choose when to see your friend. You will notice disgusting habits they have. You will not be able to escape them when they are annoying you. All of this leads to a very strained relationship.
- Understand that people have different living standards.
This has been the most difficult thing for me. When in halls, there were 16 of us sharing a kitchen. It got very gross very quickly. I did not really use the kitchen for cooking so it didn’t bother me too much. As I’ve got older though, the lack of a clean kitchen has started to bother me more. I just want to be able to prepare or cook food in a hygienic environment. I do not expect much from people. I only ask that they do not leave plates covered in food to moldy. But, for some people, this is totally acceptable. I tend to avoid living areas when they have got into an awful state for a while. That is until I cannot bear it anymore and clean up everyone’s mess.
- Yes, different living standards but be considerate.
If someone tells you that they have a hard time being in the house when it is a certain level messy, make the effort to not let it get to that level. There were girls I lived with in second year of university and they hated washing up being left for more than a day. So you make the effort to wash things up straight away. It saves bickering and upset if you just have a little bit of consideration. If you go in the kitchen and think ‘oh x is going to hate this’ then do not just walk off and leave it like that.
- For some people, everything is fair game. Establish boundaries.
And I mean, everything. There are certain things which I do not mind people using – milk for tea, sugar, something every now and again. It just starts to get irritating when people take lots from others without ever giving back. There are also things which I hate people using – my fancy shower stuff that I treat myself to, any form of confectionery in my cupboard. Establish boundaries with people, let them know if something is fair game or it isn’t. If they keep taking your stuff, they’re probably a bit of a dick. It is a matter of principle, do not repeatedly take something that is not yours (especially if you have been told not to.)
- Buy toilet paper.
Seriously. You are sharing toilets, you all use them. EVERYONE in the house should be buying toilet paper. Do not leave it to a couple of people. It’s not about the money, it is again, the principle.
- Be prepared for stuff to get broken.
If you are leaving your lovely mugs in the kitchen, prepare for at least one to get broken. People might use it or it might just fall out of the cupboard. If you do not want things to be used by others, keep them in your bedroom.
- Do not take advantage of housemates kindness.
If you’re one of those people who leaves your stuff everywhere, never cleans the toilet or does their washing up because you know someone else will do it for you then you are a jerk. You are an adult, you should not have to rely on other people to clean up after you.
- Communal areas should not be considered one person’s responsibility.
Everyone uses the bins and the bathrooms, everyone walks through the house. So do not use the ‘oh but I barely produce any rubbish’ to get out of taking the rubbish out. That is obviously ridiculous but people try it. Cleaning toilets is not nice, I do not like doing it but it has to be done. You use the toilet, you clean it once in a while. The floors often get way more gross than anyone realises. Unless you’re floating through air in the house, it is just as much your responsibility to clean them than anyone else. Don’t make excuses to avoid doing certain chores, just do them.
If someone isn’t pulling their weight with cleaning, talk to them. Maybe they’ve got a lot going on at the moment or they just haven’t realised. If you’re living with someone, you need to be able to call them out on their shit.
- If you really struggle with mess out of your control, live with less people.
It tends not to be viable now to live alone if you’re in your twenties. It is fucking expensive. But, the less people you live with, the easier any issues will be to deal with. If you feel totally overwhelmed by having house mates, that’s understandable. Just have less of them next time.
- It is not all bad.
If it was all terrible, I would probably be living on my own by now. Living with people has its perks. You can have big group meals together, there is always someone around to talk to, you get to hear about people’s days and how they are doing. If your friendship survives a less than ideal living situation then you know it is built to last. You get to have low key hang out sessions in front of the TV all the time. You kind of get used to all the gross habits of people and any disagreements just make it all feel like a family. My current house mates include some of my best friends and I have fully accepted and somewhat embraced their messiness.
Summed up: living with people can be fun, just don’t act like an inconsiderate prick.