More and more of us are sharing homes with friends into our 30s and beyond, which can be really fun. As with any relationship though, tensions can bubble under the surface if issues aren’t dealt with. So, how do you manage to live with the same housemate for years without it ending in big arguments and resentment? It is actually fairly easy once you know how! We’ve pulled together our best tips below for being a great housemate and enabling a long-lasting and successful house share.
Your own bedroom can be as messy as you like but show your housemate respect by containing your mess to that one room. Shared areas of the house need to be kept clear of personal stuff — this includes clothes and shoes, which can end up everywhere! Don’t leave mountains of washing up in the kitchen overnight, as this will likely infuriate your housemate, and don’t let your toiletries take over the bathroom. As long as you’re all mindful of the fact you live with others, you’ll be fine.
Food is often a cause of housemates falling out — whether that’s because your housemate pinched your leftovers, always expects you to cook, or never washes up after themselves once they have cooked. Don’t be that person, and don’t let your housemate become that person either! If you’ve started to find or write passive aggressive sticky notes on food in the fridge, it’s time for an open discussion. Sit down together and agree on which food items you’ll buy together and share (milk, bread, butter, etc.) and also that you’ll take it in turns to cook. If you can’t cook, at least show willing, and your housemate will be touched that you try. Another note on shared food: If you use the last of something, replace it!
Everyone has disagreements from time to time, but it is how you react to them that is important. Remember that it is OK to disagree — in fact, life would be boring if everyone had the same opinions! Whatever happens, don’t let a disagreement turn into a nasty argument, and always keep in mind that whatever you say will be remembered for a long time to come. Shouting never helps, so keep your voices low, and talk through your differences calmly.
If you do say something out of turn, or if you do something you shouldn’t, always make sure you apologise. A little token gesture could be nice, too — for example, you could leave their favourite chocolate bar outside their bedroom door with a note on it, or buy them a bunch of flowers. There’s nothing worse than festering bad feelings when you live together and see each other everyday.
Every set of housemates tackles cleaning in a different way, but whatever your way, just make sure you do have the talk and do have a plan in place, as this will prevent arguments and resentment further down the line. This doesn’t have to involve a rota, but a general agreement of how often you will clean and which areas of the house you will tackle is a good start, and may be enough. If you have ridiculously high standards when it comes to a clean house, don’t expect your housemate to share those standards — that would be unfair — it needs to be a balance.
When two or more friends live together, the issue of boyfriends/girlfriends is inevitable. However, it need not be a problem if you work together to find a solution that suits all parties. Open communication is key — talk it through, agree on how to deal with it, and stick to the plan. Perhaps you could agree on certain nights being housemates only, and other nights being OK for sleepovers. Issues often arise when the boyfriend or girlfriend starts spending more than half of the week at the house they supposedly don’t live in, so make sure you tackle this problem before it has a chance to happen.
When you live with housemates, you often only see each other briefly as you dash in and out of the house to various engagements. This can take its toll on your relationship, so give it a boost by planning in regular ‘date nights’, where you go out for some food, grab a drink together or catch a film. If you spend some quality time together, you’re much more likely to enjoy a harmonious house share.
Do you have any more tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below. Want to know how house shares save you money? Read our blog post, here.