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How to be a good housemate

By George Hadgelias

‘Good housemate’ is a rather relative term. What constitutes a ‘good housemate’ for one person might well be a living nightmare for someone else. People who work nights and like to stay up late playing their XBox might have a difficult time living with someone who works nine to five and needs a quiet house in the evenings.

Compatibility aside, there are some qualities universally accepted as decent housemate behaviour. Here’s a list of very basic housemate etiquette to observe – and request of others.

Be respectful

If your housemate is sick in bed with the flu, it’s probably not the most appropriate time to blast your Best of the 90s soundtrack, while vigorously vacuuming the floor and singing love ballads. You don’t have to be perfect all the time but do a little bit of self evaluation every now and then.

If you find yourself thinking ‘I wonder if this action film I’m watching at 1 am is too loud?’ it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and get yourself some headphones.

Be respectful

If your housemate is sick in bed with the flu, it’s probably not the most appropriate time to blast your Best of the 90s soundtrack, while vigorously vacuuming the floor and singing love ballads. You don’t have to be perfect all the time but do a little bit of self evaluation every now and then.

If you find yourself thinking ‘I wonder if this action film I’m watching at 1 am is too loud?’ it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and get yourself some headphones.

Replace what you consume/break

It’s impossible to live in a house without touching other people’s stuff and no matter how hard you try. It’s  likely that at some point you’re going to accidentally finish off someone else’s milk or eat a few slices of their bread. If you happen to eat, lose or break something that belongs to your housemate, simply replace it. Every single time and as soon as possible.

Clean up after yourself

Clean as you go. It’s fine to leave a pile of dirty dishes in the sink if you live alone but if you live with other people, it’s just plain rude.

Replace the toilet paper roll when it’s empty, take the rubbish out whenever it’s full and if you make a Halloween costume on the living room floor vacuum up the glitter and shredded paper that you left all over the carpet. Simple.

Be pleasant

Everyone has cranky days every now and then but if you mope around and take your bad mood out on your flatmates, it’s going to make for a very unpleasant living situation.

If you feel snappy when you come home, don’t run to your room and slam your door. Greet your housemates, tell them you had a less than average day and let them know you’ll be in your room watching DVDs, hiding under the covers or on the phone to your BFF. This will stop any unnecessary tension building in your home and you never know, one of them may even bring you sympathy pizza.

Avoid borrowing or lending money

If you need to borrow money, ask someone that you don’t live with and suggest that your housemates do the same. It gets very messy when a housemates ask for money to cover rent so don’t even go there. It’s best make a hard and fast no borrowing rule when you all move in and stick to it.

Pick your battles

If you’re going to live with other people, you’re going to need to compromise. No one likes used tea bags cluttering up the sink but it’s also not the end of the world if your housemate occasionally leave their spent Earl Grey bag on the counter. Choose your battles.

If you have a housemate who lies, steals or conducts illegal business from their bedroom, that’s a genuine problem. An empty bottle of your housemate’s shampoo in the shower for a few months is a forgivable offence.

Exploit your skills

We’re all good at something – and often that means we enjoy doing it. If cooking is your thing, consider taking up more cooking load than other residents, in return for them taking on more of something they’re better suited for. Some people actually emjpu cleaning! Whatever your skill sets, share them generously.

Chat often

Most housemate arguments start (and continue) because of a lack of communication. If there are any issues, you need to discuss them. It’s much less awkward to politely ask your housemate to stop using your hair straightener without asking than it is to quietly seethe for months on end. Keep the lines open.

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