How to co-house well!
Posted on June 7, 2017
Co-housing or sharing a property can be a massive challenge for anybody. You have to quickly learn the art of compromise and respect - which isn't easy...especially when you are staring at your cupboard of half eaten food. However, co-housing can have massive benefits. Cheaper rent, cheaper bills and also the potential friendships you can make with the people you live with. We have five top tips to get you through those tricky days and how to prevent there being any upset between you and your housemates.
TIP ONE: DO NOT TAKE OTHER PEOPLE'S THINGS
Perhaps the most important tip is do not take what is not yours. Respecting each others possessions is crucially important to a happy flat. Not paying heed to these boundaries can lead to underlying tension that can build without you even being aware of it. If you do need something, ask first. It will show that you have thought about the person first and had the courtesy to ask. You never know, they may have been thinking about that piece of chocolate you just scoffed all day...
TIP TWO: OPTIMISE YOUR LIVING SPACE
Usually your rent is cheaper for a reason...and it's not just because you're sharing the space. Bedrooms in shared houses tend to be on the smaller side which doesn't help as you usually have more in them. So, to ensure that the space feels manageable, cleverly optimise areas and create the illusion that they are larger. If your room is short on light, pop a mirror by the window or in a space where the sun hits. The mirror will reflect the light and make it seem like there is more natural light. Mirrors also create the illusion of more space, so if you want your room to appear larger - hang a mirror on the wall. Plants can also be really effective in adding a sense of calm to a space. It has been proven that plants or flowers in a room have a beneficial effect on the mind. They can also be adapted to suit any colour scheme so make a great interior asset too. Optimise your storage too and get rid of anything that is just clutter. There are lots of storage solutions such as large boxes under the bed, hanging drawers in a wardrobe or ottomans that can open to create more 'secret' storage. Making sure things are organised will always make a space feel better.
TIP THREE: HYGIENE
Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. This will probably be the source of most house disputes (either this or bills...). Everyone has their own little habits, and chances are, someone else will find them annoying. Being hygienic and respecting the general cleanliness of an area is very important. Each person who lives there carries their own germs so its important to keep things clean...especially in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen can often be the trickiest area to keep immaculately clean, so be realistic about the standards you are setting. If you know you are going to be slightly lazier when it comes to cleaning pots and pans, then make sure you have your own set of them so that when someone needs to use a pot, they aren't relying on the one that still has last nights dinner in it...Similarly, if you have made a mess clean it up. Keeping on top of things on a daily basis will ensure that everyone feels like they can function in the space. If it is something your housemates are interested in, maybe suggest a cleaner - it usually works out very cheap when it is spilt and will also ensure that nothing builds up too much.
TIP FOUR: DECIDE WHAT YOU'RE SHARING
Decide early on what items in your flat/house you are going to share and which ones you aren't. In the kitchen, make sure you have stated what items of food are for everyone and which ones aren't...this will avoid any confusion. You can assign a drawer or cupboard the 'free for all' cupboard from which anyone can eat. You can always put items here that ae about to reach their use by date or that you know you won't be eating. Similarly with the bathroom, decide what products are communal and which are exclusively yours and cost you a small house to purchase. If something is running low, say or just replace it yourself, like toilet roll. Again this stops any frustration building up. You can designate a kitty where each housemates contributes £5 a week for general maintenance things.
TIP FIVE: CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES CAREFULLY!
If someone isn't pulling their weight take a minute and decide if it is worth creating an argument over. Tension in the place you live can be a horrible burden and 9/10 times, the other housemate won't even realise what they are doing. Always approach matters passively to begin with. If there is no improvement then consider addressing it again but - think before you speak. Several opinions on one thing can be overwhelming and can often escalate into something bigger than it needed to be. If bills and payments are becoming an issue then maybe organise the use of an app or stick a whiteboard/calendar up on the wall so that all key dates can be clearly marked. Once that is done, it is the individual responsibility of each person to keep track of them and make sure they are met. Make sure you do spend time just getting to know one another, so often we get caught up in the irritations of living with lots of people and we forget to actually just enjoy their company. We can all learn something from each other even if its what we can and cannot tolerate. Another tip that might be helpful is asking select questions before you decide on who you are going to live with, do they like the heating being on/would they mind? Would they get a cleaner? These questions can help figure out exactly what kind of roommate is going to suit you!
The most important thing to remember when you are sharing a house is respect. If you choose to live with other people, then you need to be aware that they won't be the same as you. They will have different levels of tolerance, hygiene, neatness etc. It can be hard to find a balance, however, just being mindful of those around you and their desires is very important. So remember, speak when you need to and always communicate with your housemates. This will ensure that no resentment builds up over time and that you all learn to appreciate each others ways - good or bad!