Your mum doesn’t live here.
1. Resist, request, replace.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s food, shampoo, or expensive personal speaker, but if your unquenchable need for their stuff persists:
Resist it. The best bet is always to leave your housemate’s possessions alone. Stop, drop, and get your own.
Request it. If you feel like you just can’t live without that artisan cheese on their shelf in the fridge, ask them in person or text and get the go-ahead before you indulge.
Replace it. Anything you take from your housemate, with or without permission should be immediately replaceable, and identical. Finish their cereal? Buy them a new box before their next breakfast. If you eat a handful of crisps they offer you, don’t sweat it, but if you’ve secretly used half of their body wash but didn’t technically finish it… do the right thing.
2. Optimise your space.
You can’t always get what you want in shared space, so make the most of what’s yours.
Find furniture that serves a dual purpose. Drawers under the bed are genius and storage ottomans are another gem. Use this space to store all those things you’re afraid your roomies won’t resist, request, or replace!
Use helpful DIYs. Hack your tiny room on the cheap for comfort and convenience.
Minimalise. Clean out your old stuff to make room for your actually important stuff, and create a safer and calmer personal space in the process. Even if it’s madness outside your bedroom door, you’ll have your own zen spot to retreat to.
3. Do your dishes!
It’s not hard and it makes everything easier. If dirty dishes are a major battleground in your shared kitchen, try these tips to minimise the damage:
Just do the dishes as you go! Clean everything you used right after you used it.
Prefer to do a big load of dishes all at once? You’ll have to pay for the privilege. Buy your own set of cooking and dish ware and keep them in an out-of-sight crate until you’re ready to clean them – this way your housemates have access to the dishes they need without having to deal with yours, and you can keep doing things in your own time.
Running really late and just out of time to clean your porridge bowl? Avoid frustration by popping your housemates a text and letting them know that you know you left it, then take care of it as soon as you can. If they’ve done it for you – remember to say thanks!
4. Make a food plan.
Do not upset the delicate balance that is your food arrangement with your housemates. Agree early on how you’ll share or not share edibles to avoid frustration and starvation later in the game. If you’re not sure what route to go, try some of these suggestions from reddit:
Share kitchen basics: Communal condiments, spices, and dairy will make sure these staples are used up before they’re expired and replaced quickly.
Have a communal “free shelf.” Everyone should have their own separate cabinet/box/shelf for the food they bought and no should should venture beyond their own space, but designate a “free shelf” to leave items that are up for grabs. If there’s always something free, people are less likely to dive into their housemate’s stash. Use the free shelf for items you can’t finish before you expire, foods you didn’t like, or you just want to share some biscuits because you’re such. a good. person.
Always leave enough for a final helping. Even if you have a lax food sharing policy in your house, if you’re eating something that you didn’t buy, always leave a healthy portion for the owner.
5. Choose your battles.
You win some, you lose some, and your job is to decide whether it’s worth the fight. Before you burst on your roommate for not doing the dishes or taking your last granola bar (even though we all know they should know better!), take a step back and think about the problem.
Press pause. If your housemate has you worked up, take a minute to yourself and reframe the problem before you address it with them. Clear your mind, readjust, and come up with creative ways to solve the problem on your own. Did they take your toothpaste? Is the easiest and most direct solution to simply keep the tube in your room until you need it?
Come up with a fair compromise first. Before approaching your housemate, come up with a possible solution or two. You can’t make them do anything, but you can propose an arrangement that works better for everyone. Make your request or reminder attractive and friendly to them and they’re more likely to keep up. “I noticed you finished my toothpaste, I’m popping to the store, if you’ll give me some change I’ll pick you up one of the same!”
Consider how winning a conflict with your housemate will actually affect your life. Prioritise the problem. You’re entitled to a moment of annoyance no matter how small the issue, but then ask yourself: would your quality of life and happiness be significantly improved if my roommate left the toothpaste alone? If the answers is yes, start coming up with those compromises! If you can’t see a discussion with your housemate prompting a major change in your enjoyment and comfort, maybe it’s best to let bygones be bygones.
6. Make housework a no-brainer.
“I would have taken care of it, but…” “We were out of window cleaner.” “I couldn’t find any lightbulbs.” How maybe times have we all heard (and said!) this, right? Eliminate the little problems that make it difficult to start a job and start getting things done by prepping your houseshare for quick and effective housekeeping.
Create a communal cleaning and tool supply. Pool what you already have, and everyone should front the cash to make sure your house has the essentials: broom and dustpan, mop, cleaning sprays, basic tools, lightbulbs, batteries, plus anything else you decide as a group should be readily available.
Designate a space. Decide where all your communal house goods will go, so that everyone always know where to find them! Use a cupboard, closet, or buy a plastic tub or drawers.
Keep a cash kitty. If every housemate chips in 2-5 quid a month to a communal supplies fund, there will always be cash to replace sponges, hand soap, and lightbulbs. Don’t use the fund for anything else, but if there’s anything left over at the end of the month, use it for a bottle of wine to share!
7. Be in the know.
So many problems can be avoided by just letting the people you live with know what’s up. Whether you’re relative strangers or BFFs, set up a system to keep each other informed of everyone’s needs and plans, bill schedules, and what the crazy guy across the street is up to.
Make a community white board. Hang a large magnetic white-board in a shared space, and keep track of communal expenses, rent due dates, upcoming parties and visitors, and anything else everyone should be aware of. But remember, the white board is a place for information, not passive aggressive reminders.
Start a group text. If you’re chummy with your housemates, create a group text where you can keep in easy contact and share important information and laughs.
Create a shared calendar. If everyone in your houseshare has a smart phone, sync yourselves up to a common Google calendar so you’re aware of each other’s schedules – when rent’s due, who’s on holiday when, who’s got what chores when, and any other important events and plans related to the common space.
8. Get on top of shared finance.
Nobody likes a housemate who skips on rent, bills, or household costs, so make keeping track of who paid what simple with up-to-date records.
Use an app: Splitwise is a free app that allows friends and housemates to log their related expenses straight from their phones.
Keep a spreadsheet or community expenses diary: Use a shared Google sheet that everyone can update from their computers and phones. You can find plenty of expense tracking templates to make it easy. If you’re less tech-inclined, keep an expense diary handy where housemates can log receipts and expenses.
Elect a finance captain. If everyone agrees, one supremely organised flatmate can handle paying in all the bills, than take cash directly from everyone else in the house.
9. Make shared spaces more accessible for everyone.
Everyone should make an effort to keep shared space and storage organised. It will speed up everyone’s schedules and decrease small annoyances.
Organise the fridge. If you share a fridge, get that thing under control! Use assigned pull-out bins to keep everyone’s food separate, oraganised, and easy to access for quick meals.
By-the-door storage. Assign everyone in the house a hook or bin by the door to keep umbrellas, keys, and other what-nots we all like to drop as soon as we walk in.
Optimise the bathroom. Keep it clean in the shower and toilet space, and use clever storage and tips to make sure everyone has what they need while washing up.
10. Agree on a chore system.
Keep it clean! Find a cleaning routine that works for everyone in the house to make sure things are tidy, or at least not gross!
Agree on a cleaning rota. Have a house chat and agree on a weekly cleaning schedule that works for everyone. Use a wheel or card system, or log responsibilities into a shared calendar to keep things fair and on track.
Assign areas. Instead of using a rota to assign different tasks every day/week/month, assign every housemate specific tasks or areas that they are always responsible for. For example, you’re in charge of the kitchen and rubbish, while your housemate keeps the lounge and bathrooms clean.
Hire a cleaner. If cleaning is a pain for everyone in the house, hire a cleaner. Bi-weekly cleanings in London can cost between £44-60 per month, and if everyone chips in, it’s a worthy stress-reliever! Use an app like Mopp to find a background-checked cleaner near you.
11. Make time for each other.
Improve your environment and communication by setting aside some time to bond with your housemates. All good relationships take time and work, and even an hour a week can ease tension and bring you together.
Have a house meal. Nothing brings people together like a good meal, so once a week or month depending on your schedule, put aside a couple of hours to cook, eat, and wash up together.
Clean or shop together. Make undesirable tasks a little bit more fun and fair at the same time: take care of a communal tasks together! Avoid food confusion and get to know each other by doing the groceries together every week, or set aside an hour every week to tidy up together.
Get out of the house together. Make a note to grab a drink every now and then – getting to know each other away from home can dissolve some house-related tension.
12. Cheap household solutions can simplify chore feuds.
Go the extra mile without extra spending. To keep the house homey and clean with minimal effort, employ a few household hacks that will make everyone’s lives easier and chores more likely to get done.
Baking soda. Baking soda solves pretty much any problem. Dissolve it in water to use on any kitchen or tile surface. It’s cheap and requires only a small amount per use.
Coca-Cola. If you have some flat Coke lying around from last weekend’s party, use it to clean toilets, windows, remove stains, and more.
Vanilla extract. A few teaspoons of vanilla extract in the oven will eliminate odours throughout the house.
13. Celebrate your common ground.
What do you share besides your kitchen and bathroom? Use what you have in common with your housemates to create a more cohesive and inclusive environment for everyone.
Decorate. If there’s a TV show, band, or film everyone likes, put a poster in your common space. If you’re all travel fanatics, hang a map over the couch. Find something you can all identify with and feel part of a community when you look at it.
Share a treat jar. If everybody loves Jaffa Cakes, keep a tin in the kitchen to share, or if you’re health-nut types, keep a communal fruit basket.
Celebrate the holidays together. Schedule a few hours around Christmas to have a Housemate Holiday – exchange gifts and enjoy each other’s company during the season of giving and love.
14. Phone it in.
Smart phones = smart housesharing. Take advantage of apps that will keep you and your housemates informed and prepared.
Keep up with the little things. Use the HomeSlice app send notifications to your housemates when your out of house essentials, or share a WunderList that pings housemates when items are added or completed from to-do or shopping lists.
Track finances. Use SplitWise or Venmoto always stay up-to-date on who’s paid what when, even if your schedules clash and you can’t chat about it in person. For a messaging and money-sharing, try GroupMe.
Never forget that your housemates are people too, and give them the benefit of the doubt where you can. Treat them with the consideration you expect for yourself, approach them about problems the way you would want to be approached, and remember that you may not be the only one having a rough day. To work mutual respect and comfort into your houseshare, look at it this way:
Apply a 60/40 rule. Redditor awareOfYourTongue says it best: “Don’t expect the chores etc to be 50/50 – aim to make everything 60/40 (where you are the 60), and don’t feel resentful that you’re doing more. Just think – if you were living alone, you’d be doing 100% of the work.”
Accept that your priorities aren’t always their priorities. An empty sink may be important to you, but maybe your housemates couldn’t care less. In some cases, you have to accept that you can’t divvy up chores and responsibilities based solely on your preference. You may have to do a lion’s share of the work if your comfort is the only thing on the line.
Thanks to this reddit thread for some great ideas!