20/20 – Day 9: 20 hints for living with others

There’s no such thing as a perfect housemate.  I certainly wasn’t perfect.  Neither were the wonderful people I lived with.

But we listened. And we worked together. And we didn’t shy away from talking about problems. Much. 🙂

While yesterday’s post was aimed at finding accommodation, today’s post is about how to have a relatively stress-free time once you’re living in it.

Staying in private accommodation is a different experience to that of living on campus.  While some issues remain the same, it’s a whole new world.  Whoever you’re moving in with, be they best of friends or practically strangers, it’s best to be prepared.  Welcome to Day 9 of 20/20.

  1. Set meetings. The frequency and formality is up to you, but make sure you all get together on occasion and talk about any issues regarding the rental.
  2. Don’t be picky. Everyone’s different. They can’t all be perfect in your eyes. If it’s not a big deal and it’s not bothering you, let it go.
  3. Try to share items so you don’t all have to buy the same stuff. This works especially well with more expensive and less frequently used kitchen items.
  4. Respect the house rules. You don’t want to hear your housemates music at two in the morning. They don’t want to hear your music at that time of night either.  If you need to go as far as writing down some house rules, have a meeting and write them down. Hopefully it won’t come to that.
  5. Getting up earliest or coming back latest, remember to be quiet!
  6. Understand boundaries.  Your housemates probably won’t expect you going in to their room either, unless you’re invited.  Even if you have an open door policy that extends to when you’re out, others won’t.
  7. Tidy up after yourself.
  8. Communal cleaning should be done as a group, or on a rota.  Agree to one and stick to it.
  9. Each housemate take separate responsibility for a utility bill (electricity, gas, water, phone).  You all get practice, you all get a bit of work to do. Fair and reasonable.  Unless one person specifically wants to do the work (as happened in my 2nd year).
  10. Pay up on time whenever a bill comes in.
  11. Respect differences. No matter how similar you and your housemates are, there will be differences.  There’s nothing wrong with that.
  12. Don’t hog resources.  Be fair when you use the bathroom, the oven, the house phone, the living areas, and so on.  People may not speak up when you spend 2 hours on the same thing that takes them 20 minutes, but that doesn’t mean you should carry on regardless.
  13. Don’t allow guests to outstay the welcome of your housemates. Let’s say your partner visits. One or two nights is usually fine, although it’s still best to ask or have a prior agreement regarding guests.  If you know the stay will be longer, make sure everyone is happy with the situation.  When guests stay longer than expected, don’t ignore it, let everyone in the house know and explain why.  Remember, guests use resources too, so they’re costing the house money.
  14. Only hold parties and large social gatherings as a whole house. If it’s specific only to you, make sure you have explicit agreement from housemates that it’s okay.  Make sure boundaries are set and safeguards are in place.
  15. Don’t turn the heating up or down loads without coming to an agreement first. This is one that often gets overlooked. But if you’re always freezing while the rest of the house feels warm, they’re not going to appreciate the extra heat (or the extra cost)!
  16. Set up an area for messages, information, and so on. Just a fridge door will do.  Find space to get key information together that everyone can quickly check.
  17. Keep a list for phone calls made.  Mobile phones take away the urgency for a student house to have a phone.  Even if you have a phone because of broadband, there may be little use for the phone.  No matter how little the phone is used, keep a book by the phone and note down all calls that are made.  That way, when the bill comes through, you’ll know who needs to pay for each call.
  18. Speak up.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Unless you explain what difficulties you’re having, people may not realise.  However, instead of moaning, discuss the situation sensibly.
  19. Discuss the need for a TV Licence. Some students can’t be bothered to watch TV.  Others watch it whenever they’re in, no matter what they’re doing.  Not everyone wants to pay for a licence, because TV isn’t going to be a part of their student life.  If they don’t contribute, don’t complain if they suddenly watch the odd show. Life’s too short.  On the other hand, if they veg out every day in front of the box…
  20. Prepare to compromise. You can’t have everything your own way.

Title image: original by tiffa130 (cc)  /  Bottom image: original by San Sharma (cc)


    1. Thanks so much, Jay. Hope you continue to enjoy the series.

      I’ve never lived with anyone terrible, so I’m lucky in that respect. Although there have been one or two events I’d rather forget…

      One time, a housemate got drunk and was sick outside their room in the middle of the night. Not knowing how to clear it up (and not having clear thoughts at the time!) they took the vacuum cleaner and cleared it up with that! Not only did it wake us up, but every time we used the vacuum cleaner after that, it didn’t smell good. I don’t even want to talk about emptying the bag.

      Actually, you didn’t need to hear that story, did you? 😉

      1. Oh dear…

        I think we’re lucky in the UK that we all have a room to ourselves in halls and houses, not sure I could handle constantly sharing a small space with someone else!

        1. I’m happy for that too. If only my housemate had been sick inside their room it wouldn’t have mattered so much. When it’s just outside the rooms though…

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