Sharing A House - Making It Work

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Sharing a house can be a fun, cost effective and rewarding way to live, and people can often become long term friends from the shared living experience which is another positive.

However, at times, it can also be a challenge to share a home with other people - even if you do know them. The first thing to consider is establishing clear guidelines or ‘’house rules’’ and clear communication between all housemates.

Here’s a few important items to consider before choosing a housemate and moving in with them.

Be clear about who you want to live with

Pick housemates that are a good match for you. The rental property, location and rental price matter but being able to get on with your flatmates is just as important – what habits do they have, their values, their approach to home life and domestic chores.

Try to understand how they get ready for work, what time they get ready (bathrooms might need to be shared), whether they expect to regularly entertain friends, whether they are domestic in nature, extroverts or introverts, are calm or emotional people, friendly or reserved.  

Create house rules - and communicate these clearly

The rules don’t need to be inflexible house commandments but just some simple guidelines on important issues can help everyone remain civil.  

Just some examples of rules that may need to be explained are: limits on overnight guests, using and taking from each other’s groceries and drinks, entering each other’s bedrooms when you are not home, sharing of possessions, acceptable finish time for noise on weeknights, chores, expectations on cooking together or individually?

Agree to raise issues calmly if a problem arises so that the atmosphere in the home is not tense. An example might be to establish a rule that you won’t leave notes, slam doors or leave the room when your housemate enters.

Keep the sensitive matter of sorting bills simple

Problems can start when bill issues get tricky or complex, for example trying to apportion rent and bills if a housemate has a guest staying for a few days. The simple approach might be to split costs equally – or at least set some rules around this in advance.

Itemise the shared bills that you will all have in addition to the rent, so everyone is clear about costs and expectations. For example, if there are streaming services like Netflix or Foxtel, car parking or gardening costs. Which leads to the next point?

Don’t leave people out

Include all your housemates in key decisions that affect everyone in the house, especially if money is involved. This includes, whether to renew the tenancy or give notice, whether to get a cleaner, gardening costs, when non-housemates can stay and for how long.

Be a good housemate

Be open to sharing your possessions from time to time – for example, if your housemate borrows some food or drinks occasionally. Clean up after yourself, smile and give people space if you can see that they need some individual time or have guests over.

Remember, for shared homes, you may not get everything you want all the time. Maybe one of your housemates has a slightly larger bedroom or storage area. Again, discuss this in advance and create some rules to keep everyone satisfied.  Like swapping bedrooms after a certain time period!

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