Sharing stuff can be a tough gig, even when it comes to trivial things, like a bottle of wine or a block of chocolate. Needless to say, sharing an entire house with multiple people can be tricky. Leaving the family home is a liberating time in our lives but the share house experience presents a whole bag of new challenges.
I’ve been paying rent for years and it still seems like a pretty rough deal. And how come we don’t have any toilet paper? Um no, I’m not sure which day we’re supposed to put the recycling bin out either. In addition to the politics of sharing, these things just keep coming up.
Here are some effective ways to create a healthily functioning share house, and some fairly innocent ways to make people hate you too. For better or worse, here’s my advice on share-housing:
1. Where do I sign?
You’ve got two options when it comes to leasing a place: sign it or sublet a room from the person who signed it. Basically, if you take on the lease you’re taking official responsibility for the place, but if you sublet a room you can bail out when necessary. Even in a household of supposed egalitarian harmony, the person who has their name on the lease is the overlord. That person gets the final say on stuff. Do you want to be the boss or to avoid responsibility? Keep in mind, if you’re the boss and you haven’t got your housemates on the lease, if they trash it and bail, it’s your responsibility to pick up the trash.
When I lived at home, food was free. I grabbed whatever I wanted from the fridge and mum cooked a nice hot dinner most nights. Then things changed forever. I realised that food actually costs money (a fair bit more money than I had expected). I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford avocadoes or figure out how to make a lasagne as good as my mum’s. But I know not to eat all my housemates’ delicious food, because that’s just not cool. While a cheeky splash of milk or a slice of bread is fairly understandable, you can’t steal your roomie’s prime sustenance. And never ever drink your housemate’s last beer.
3. A closed door is a closed door.
Just because you feel like partying at 3am on a Monday night, it doesn’t mean you should barge into your housemate’s room, wake them up and guilt trip them into drinking wine with you. Maybe they don’t want to – in all likelihood they have stuff to do tomorrow. Even if it’s a reasonable hour, doors are made to be knocked-on. Lots of things happen behind closed doors that you may not want to interrupt regardless of intoxication…
4. Cleaning and scrubbing.
It took me quite a while to figure out that this was actually a thing, but take it from me: mice, ‘roaches, fruit flies and ants are no fun at all. Cleaning only works if everyone in the house does it, at least a little bit, so it’s important to get everyone on the same page. Not just wiping the top surface either, all those grubby corners which fester after months of neglect and breed all sorts of nasties. Which brings me to my next point…
It’s the essence of being human, and probably the most important thing we do in our lives. Maybe everyone in the house is completely content to live in a state of squalor for now. Alternatively, maybe everyone is actually dedicated enough to Hygiene and Adulthood that they can maintain a proper linen cupboard- maybe plastics too! (can anyone?!). Any number of share house scenarios could work, just as long as everyone’s on the same page. Pro trip: that ‘page’ never involves passive aggressive notes on the fridge/toilet/door.