The current Covid climate means we're spending much more time at home. And with an increasing number of people living in shared accommodation, the words "can't we all just get along" have never been more important.
No longer is house sharing reserved solely for our uni years or during our early twenties; the number of people opting to live in shared accommodation is on the rise for all ages. We share homes with other professionals, friends and partners, so getting along is necessary for a harmonised living experience.
If you want to enjoy a peaceful time with your housemates without worrying about asking them to clean the dishes for the umpteenth time, then read on. We've put together a list of top tips for how to live in a house share.
Who's the boss? You're all the boss!
Living in a shared home usually means taking on more responsibility, whether it's a cleaning rota (more on that in a bit) or managing the bills. That's why it's always a good idea to delegate responsibilities equally, especially when it comes to utilities.
Sometimes you might get lucky, and utility bills are included in the rent. But more often than not, they are a separate cost and need to go in the names of people living in the home. Most successful house shares distribute bills – the gas and electricity go in one person's name while the TV license and broadband in another, with everyone splitting the costs equally.
By having all house members in charge of bills, everyone has the same responsibilities, rather than one person acting as the lead and collecting from everyone else each month. It's even better if you set up bank transfers so there's no need to chase a housemate for payments. This way, everyone knows when the money comes out, and you can avoid unnecessary arguments.
Clean is serene
We've all got different ideas of cleanliness, and keeping a shared house tidy is usually the root of many problems. So how do you ensure that everyone agrees on the best way to clean the property without needing to resort to accusations of unwashed undergarments lying on the bathroom floor for two days? By designing a cleaning rota, that's how.
Set some ground rules for how to tidy the place and agree that everyone should clean up after themselves with one or two people (depending on the size of the share) taking responsibility each week for a deep clean.
It's even better if you can all agree to hire a cleaner, which is something many professional house shares implement. Professional cleaning costs divided by three or four people should be relatively low and take some of the responsibility off you and your housemates. Still, that doesn't mean you can leave your used plates in the sink!
Be responsible with your stuff
In an ideal world, you'll trust your flatmates like they are your family and everyone will have a jolly good time living together. Still, it's better to be on the safe side, especially if your flatmates have people round regularly.
Be mindful of your belongings and think about locking the door to your room, especially when you're not there. If you can't lock the door (though this is rare in house shares), explore the idea of getting some lockable storage for high-value items.
It's always better to be safe than sorry, and your housemates will probably do the same with their rooms. Sharing can be great, but it's best to have some boundaries in place when it comes to your personal stuff.
Respect is key
The best way to avoid arguments is through respect. Whether you live with your partner or someone you don't know very well, there's bound to be disagreements and misunderstandings from time to time. Being open and transparent with each other is more likely to lead to a swift resolution and stop housemate tiffs from developing.
There are also a few things you and your housemates can do right from the start to mitigate arguments, such as respecting each other's privacy. Don't go into their rooms when they're not there and always knock first before entering. Keep the noise down if you're up late and everyone else is asleep and be mindful about space when sharing things like the fridge.
Once upon a time, house-sharing was something people did because they didn't have a choice. These days, however, an increasing number of people prefer sharing for the social aspect. This is especially true in large cities, which can feel lonely at times.
Co-Living is a professional sharing option where renters have their own bedroom (and sometimes ensuite) but share other parts of the house. These properties are typically designed with community in mind and feature lounges, kitchens and even gyms, with residents having their own space while embracing the sharing lifestyle.
For some, this approach is better than general sharing, as it has a professional touch to it and features some plush properties, such as the Sonder spaces and the LifeX buildings. Along with Build-to-Rent, Co-Living is becoming an increasingly popular living option for renters in cities like London and Manchester.
Friends, everybody needs them
Living with housemates can be a great way to save on the rent while also getting to know new people. It's a much more sociable living experience than being by yourself and can be the springboard for new friendships and experiences.
As long as you take a few steps to respect your house buddies while organising things like bills and cleaning, your shared accommodation experience should be a positive one that gives you long-lasting memories.