Housemates come in all shapes and sizes. Messy, Clean, Bossy, Lazy, Loud, Reclusive, I could go on. They might even be your best friend! But let me tell you now, unless you know how to deal with them on the daily, you most likely won’t be besties by the end of the year. Whoever they are, you’ll need to be prepared to be faced with habits that differ from yours and how to resolve conflict gently. Here’s a list of tips that might sound harsh but trust me, you’ll thank me later.
1. Make Sure You WANT To Live With Them Beforehand
If your friend asks you to live with them, that’s great! But what if they’re asking you to also live with their five friends you met at that party that one time when you were all crazy drunk? A couple hours at a party, however epic, is not enough time to suss out whether or not they’re roomie material. Why not suggest meeting with them before you make up your mind? Go out for coffee, see if they’re a right fit for you!
2. Set Ground Rules
So, you’ve found a place to live. What’s the first thing to do? Try sitting down with your housemates and hashing out a list of taboos, potential issues, personal problems that you might face. Make sure everyone gets their say too! Your housemates might have their own pet peeves and issues too.
3. NEVER Let Issues Simmer…But Learn How To Let Go
The worse thing you can let happen is let a tiny issue become something huge. You never want that pile of dirty dishes to turn into a full-blown rat infestation (yes, that did happen to me). Ok, that’s not exactly what I mean, but the analogy works! If you have an issue that’s been nagging you, don’t brush it under the rug and let it fester. Make sure everything’s out in the open!
Then, once all the apologies are said and done, LET IT GO. Don’t bother bringing up the past when dealing with housemates, always deal with the present issues.
4. Get Used To Confrontation
Afraid of confrontation? I’m with you. It’s scary approaching someone with an issue they’re causing, not knowing how they’ll react. In reality, housemates want to start a fight as much as you do! Just try to understand that everyone wants to put out fires, and at the end of the day, the person that doesn’t say that there’s a fire is the guilty party.
5. Don’t Be Afraid (Or Embarrassed) Of Asking Your Roommates Difficult Questions
Your housemates are the people you’ll be living with for the foreseeable future, so get used to them being all up in your bizz. If you’re the type of person that prefers to be in their room by themselves after a long day, that’s perfectly fine! But you might want to drop it by your housemates, just in case they’re not the be-on-your-own type.
On the flip side, if they’re having a bad day, don’t be afraid to ask them EXACTLY what they need. Even if you like to be left on your own, they might need a friend to binge Netflix with and eat ice-cream all night.
6. Start A Weekly Rota
No one likes cleaning. Unless you’re a Monica. The best thing to do is share the chores between you. Make a weekly rotation sheet and STICK TO IT. It’s much easier to approach one housemate on the rota who forgot, than bring the entire house in for an intrusive interrogation.
7. Know Your Contract INSIDE OUT
Sometimes with housemates, things can get very, very bad and you need to make the ultimate decision: Either move out or kick them out. It happens. But before you make any rash decisions, you need to know the limitations of your contract, ‘cuz that s*** is legally binding.
8. Establish A Safe Zone
You will need downtime. So, having a safe place where you can get away from the drama is a must. It doesn’t need to be your room, it could even just be a hot cup of tea and a McVitie’s. Just make sure that when things get too real, you have a place to retreat to.
9. A Fight’s A Two-Way Street
Ask yourself seriously, how big is this issue? Really? Fights with housemates don’t begin out of nowhere, and not getting caught up in the argument when you’re trying to make a point is going to be key to making sure things don’t get out of hand. Take a moment and ask yourself, are you being a drama queen? Was there a way this could have been handled better?
10. Accept Your Situation
At the end of the day, you need to realise that people have all been raised differently. You’re housemates aren’t going to live by your rules and the worst way you can approach the situation is by losing control and taking over. If they’re a few dirty dishes, or the cleaning rota is stuffed by a day, or your housemate forgot to tell you they had friends coming over, don’t sweat it! It’s all part of the experience!