How to survive share-house living

10 top tips for a happy and harmonious share house.

Everyone knows to clean up their own dishes, to pay the bills on time and to not "borrow" another housemate’s shampoo. But even if you consider yourself to be the perfect housemate, it’s easy to find yourself in a nightmare share-house scenario.

Don’t fret, we’ve compiled all our terrible experiences to give you this bible for share-house living because we really, really don’t want you to go through the same things that we did.

Here are our top 10 hacks for surviving share-house living.

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1. Keep it clean

This may seem like a blindingly obvious piece of advice but trust us, cleaning up after yourself seems to be a skill many fully-grown adults simply don’t have. Nothing gets on your housemates’ nerves quite like a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, a clump of hair clogging the shower drain or a general mess all around the house.

Do your bit to keep common areas (kitchens, bathrooms, living areas etc) clean and if you ever make a mess, clean it up. Remember this simple piece of advice and you’ll go a very long way to becoming a good housemate.

2. Keep it down

You might love nothing better than blasting the collected works of Michael Bolton from your stereo at all hours of the night, but chances are your housemates won’t share your passion. You might also love throwing all-night ragers in the middle of the week, but once again, this will probably get your housemates offside pretty quickly.

So the next time you’re about to crank the stereo up to 11 or send out the invites for a Tuesday night party, take a minute to think of your housemates. Noise travels a long way and can be extremely annoying if your share house has thin walls, so keep it to a minimum.

3. Socialise

The share house that has fun together, stays together, or something like that, so make sure you and your roomies make time to spend together. Traditions like “family meals”, Taco Tuesdays, Sunday sessions or whatever your own spin on share-house rituals happens to be can help create lasting memories, bonds and even friendships.

4. Say it to my face!

Got a problem with someone? Don’t go behind their back and complain to your other housemates as doing so only creates division and reflects badly on you. Also, don’t leave passive-aggressive Post-it notes lying around.

Instead, approach the problem like an adult and speak to the person face to face. Don’t be overly confrontational or nasty, but make sure you’re firm and that your grievances are heard.

5. Communicate

Communication is crucial in any relationship, no matter whether we’re talking about your significant other or your housemate. Don’t expect your housemates to be able to read your mind and pick up on the subtle changes in your mood: talk to them and let them know how you’re feeling.

If you’re not in the mood to party and just want some time to yourself, tell someone. If you’ve got a concern with someone’s failure to contribute to household cleaning, raise it with them as soon as you can. Letting things fester is only going to make things worse.

6. Respect

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me, and to all your other housemates. You’ll need to respect your housemates, so pay attention to these areas:

  • Privacy. Don’t go bursting in on anyone in the shower.
  • Belongings. Stop “borrowing” your roomie’s laptop without asking.
  • Space. Remember that another person’s room is off limits unless you’re invited in.

A little respect goes a long way and will help ensure a happy household.

7. Get covered

Now that you’ve moved out of home and you’re out in the world fending for yourself, it’s time to make a few grown-up decisions. One of those is deciding whether you need renter’s insurance for your contents.

Some (but not all) insurers provide renter’s insurance for share houses, providing cover for all your important possessions against fire, storm, theft, vandalism and a number of other risks. Some will even allow you to purchase individual cover for your stuff only, while most other insurers can provide cover for the contents owned by all tenants.

It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but if something goes wrong and all your stuff is destroyed, you’ll be very glad to have cover in place.

8. Money, money, money

It makes the world go round and it can turn even the most peaceful and harmonious share house into a battleground. Paying rent on time is the biggie, so make sure you always have enough funds set aside when it’s due.

Then there are those shared bills for things like electricity, water, gas, Internet and subscription TV services. Taking an ad-hoc approach to these costs may seem like an easy option but can get very messy very quickly, so your best bet is to work out everyone’s share ahead of time.

You might even want to set up a shared kitty to buy stuff like milk, coffee and cleaning supplies that everyone uses.

9. Learn to pick your battles

When you’re living with someone who occasionally drives you up the wall, those little everyday annoyances can start to seem like a very, very big deal. But before deciding that a mistimed fart should be the catalyst for World War 3, take a deep breath and think about the best approach.

If you’re constantly blowing up at your roomie about every little thing, it’ll be extremely stressful and your blood pressure will be through the roof. Even worse, it may also be time to consider whether you might actually be the person who’s difficult to live with.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to let those smaller grievances just slip by, rather than letting them fill you with rage. Then, when the time comes and your housemate really oversteps the line, try to stay calm and take a rational approach to sorting out the problem.

10. Relax

Share-house living creates some of the fondest memories of your life, so try to stop and smell the roses every now and then. Sure, there can be downsides to living with several individuals, but there can also be wonderful camaraderie, parties and friendships that you’ll one day look back on with nostalgia. If you embrace the different experiences and people that share-house living brings into your life, you’ll be a much better person for it.
Picture: Shutterstock

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