How to keep things cruisy with housemates
Some problems break up share-houses time and time again. Read on to learn how to avoid them!
These kinds of common conflicts can even destroy really great friendships. But if you go in with your eyes open and head off trouble, hopefully you can keep things cruisy at home.
Hint: See Getting along with housemates for more tips, plus advice on what to do if things do go awry.
Five common problem triggers
These are situations that could have a significant effect on your new living arrangements, but handled properly will make your new life hassle-free.
Potential Problem #1 – Moving in with friends
Getting a house with buddies can add a whole new level of extra fun. Nothing’s as cool as finding your team then hanging at home together. BUT it will only work if you start off with a good understanding of what to expect, and you have clear boundaries.
Tip #2: Living together is about more than getting along – you have to be fairly compatible in habits (is he a slob but you’re a neat freak? Uh oh!), plus not live in each other’s pockets or you’ll get sick of each other.
Case study: Housemate from hell
Busting to move out of home, Dizzy (yep, not her real name) found a place with a former school friend. At first it was heaps of fun – decorating with beanbags and candles and enjoying the freedom to stay out late drinking vodka and raspberry. But soon cracks started appearing.
- Dizzy made new friends and was less available. She started getting cranky phone calls from her housemate.
- Then she noticed her toothbrush was wet each day as though used. She started carting a new one around.
- Next, clean clothes in the cupboard turned up smelling of smoke and BO – obviously worn then put back. Then her underwear started disappearing.
- Finally, when she woke up to her friend in bed staring at her, that was it – she asked to break the lease, and, luckily, in her case, the landlord agreed.
Of course, not everyone will fixate on their flatmate and turn into the psycho from “Single White Female” (a pretty cool movie, actually), but moving out is a huge emotional change, and anyone will get irrational, angry or upset at times. It can be trickier to manage boundaries if you’re friends first, then housemates.
That’s not to say it can’t be awesome if you give each other some space. Remember the famous saying? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Make sure you get some.
Potential Problem #2 – Sex can be trouble
Tip #4: Be tolerant of your flatmate.
Many a household has fallen apart when mates live together, especially if one hooks up and the other stays solo. You might get annoyed by the lovey-dovey kissy-kissy, or even miss your old buddy. Try to grin and bear it, who knows, in a month or two it could be you acting crazy pathetic.
Worst case, you could even have a fling with your bestie’s partner. Yes, that old clichéd love triangle is a cliché for a reason. When people spend heaps of time together, one thing can (and often does) lead to another; wink, wink. But shagging a friend’s partner? Bye bye friendship. Hello, freaky talk show topic.
Remember that even if you get on really well, seem made for each other, have had too much to drink etc., each decision you make WILL, sadly, be with you for life…and possibly on facebook. Plus it’s never as exciting in the cold, hard light of day. Just like having an affair, the grass isn’t often greener in the end.
Potential Problem #3 – Moving in with partners
It can be a problem if things go pear-shaped and you’re stuck with each other and a lease you can’t get out of. No matter how hunky-dory it is now, it’s always a risk (seen the divorce rate lately?). At least go in with your eyes open and be clear on who owns what and whose name everything is in.
Variety is the spice of life
Differences make life interesting as long as you respect them – they can make for a really fun experience, and you can learn heaps of new stuff.
You might think you’d struggle to get along with someone seriously different to yourself, but scratch the surface and we’re not that different – we all eat, drink, sleep and shit, after all.
Potential Problem #4 – Everyone has different tastes
Tip #7: People’s culinary likes and dislikes vary a lot but would it kill you to try something new? You’ll never know if you don’t try.
Of course, if some foods are out due to allergies or religion, make this clear at the start. Or if you’ve got a fussy nose and strong smells like curry, salt fish, stinky cheeses, seafood etc. make you gag, tell your prospective housemates.
You never know, though, try it and you might like it – didn’t you ever read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ ?
Case study: What the hell is that smell?
Darla searched high and low for the cat poo she could smell in the room. Her flatmate kept watching tv, eating steadily.
“Hey Darla, try this”, she said.
“Sorry Pip, can’t you smell that the cat’s done a crap?”
Finally, it turned out the rancid smell was actually the stinky snack Pip was eating. Durian cake — looks bad, literally smells like shit (and tastes gross too…). But that’s just my opinion. And I like anchovies. Different strokes and all.
Potential Problem #5 – Dress codes
If you’re used to modest dress and you’ll be disturbed if someone flashes the flesh, ask about it. If people wander around half naked it’s unlikely to be the place for you. And if you’re anal about hygiene, you’re unlikely to like your flatmate’s hairy butt on your clean couch, or any other parts, anywhere, probably.
Ditto if you’re a casual flesh-flasher looking to move into a conservative environment.
Hilarious reading alert!
For heaps of funny stories about flatmates from hell, read ‘He died with a felafel in his hand’ by John Birmingham. It’s hysterical, and pretty informative. I actually recognised a few of my former flatmates.