Are you a member of Generation Rent? If so you’re in good company. A staggering 60% of 20 to 39 year olds will likely be renting by 2025. [¹] The number of house sharers aged 45 to 54 has also risen by 300% in recent years. [²] Sharing a house is no longer a lifestyle choice but a necessity for many adults thanks to higher house prices.
As a Generation Renter you probably won’t just be renting but sharing your home with strangers.
House sharing can be brilliant – the chance to meet others and live in a big city that may not have been possible otherwise. On the flipside house shares, with their combination of various personalities and habits, can lead to friction.
The common problems of house sharing
A poll by realestate.com.au asked what annoyed people most regarding housemates. Over a third noted sharers who never clean. Also leaving dirty dishes everywhere, always having friends over, not paying their share of the bills, and eating others’ food without asking or replacing it.
An Asda poll found infuriating habits such as not paying bills on time, letting unwelcome cats into the house and theft of underwear.
How to reduce conflict and get on better with your fellow housemates
Expectations and ground rules
Sharing with strangers is tricky. Set expectations at the start. Find out if your housemates are early risers or night owls and how this will conflict with your own schedule. Discuss issues like cleaning and bill sharing. How do your housemates feel about mess – do they tolerate it well or are they more easy-going?
Be aware of your different schedules. One of you may have to regularly work late and will resent coming home to find your dirty dinner dishes scattered about the kitchen.
Consider if you’ll share food or keep it separate. How will you buy shared items? Putting into a kitty is a good way to get started. Keep a fun piggy bank somewhere to remind housemates to contribute.
Agree on some general house rules. Arguments usually relate to untidy communal areas or inconsiderate housemates. Decide how you’ll divide up the chores and set a time for turning music or TV down to a reasonable level.
Only invite friends over a couple of nights a week to prevent them becoming part of the furniture and set a policy on romantic attachments staying overnight. You may be comfortable eating breakfast together half-dressed in the kitchen but your housemate might not.
Keep your house share clean
Keeping the house tidy and dividing up chores is the most common cause of friction. As above, it’s best to set some expectations and ground rules at the start.
Have a friendly chat about how to keep communal areas clean. Be positive rather than bossy; no one wants to be told what to do. Make suggestions on how to divide up regular tasks. Invest in a chalkboard and jot down whose turn it is to do what that week. Make cleaning more interesting by buying some novelty cleaning items; there are plenty of fun washing up sponges or mini vacuum cleaners available online.
The easiest solution however, if you’re all in agreement, is to hire a cleaner to come in regularly and look after the communal areas. This can be very effective and shouldn’t cost much if you all chip in.
Protect your possessions
For those in a larger house share with regularly changing flatmates the original rules may not work and home life can become a balancing act.
There are ways to protect the possessions you keep in communal areas. First of all, protect your property from outside theft. Make sure everyone is responsible for locking front and back doors at night. Leave a sign on the doors if you have to.
Other great tips to protect your property:
Keep valuables in your room out of sight and mark anything such as electronics with a UV pen
Password protect your laptop, USB stick or phone and back up documents to a separate hard drive or a cloud-based system. Consider keeping your computer safe with a laptop lock
Preventing food thievery from communal cupboards of fridges can be a nightmare, after all you’re sharing with other professionals, not students! Hopefully, if you’ve followed the advice regarding communication and also set ground rules about what constitutes shared food, you can avoid this issue. If not, then there are other ways to combat such theft. Fridge lockers may seem extreme but can be very effective.
Following these tips should make life in a shared house that little bit easier. If not, it may be time to consider a new housemate!