I have been a good flatmate, and I’ve been a very bad flatmate. I’d like to think I have finally achieved a happy “just off the middle” ground. My flatmate Gigi calls me “Kate-monster”. I would have taken exception to this moniker, had it not contained a modicum of truth. So, from my wealth of experience, here is The Etiquette Butterfly’s guide to harmonious house sharing.
1. Be considerate
Always ask before helping yourself to other people’s food or borrowing their things. Wash what you use as soon as possible. Leaving the one plate that you did not use unwashed is petty.
If they are in a rush, let them use the communal facilities first—bathroom, washing machine, etc. If you find the housework is not getting done, make a rota and stick to it.
2. Prepare to share
Your room is your own personal space to do as you wish, but communal areas are not. Do not let your clutter to become part of the furniture. Try to be generous when buying communal supplies such as cleaning products.
Nobody wants to find a stranger in their house, so let your flatmates know if you have guests staying. You are responsible for providing for your guests. Guests should not bring their own friends to your place. Read my previous post on how to be the perfect host. If your partner all but moves in, your responsibility is doubled.
Inform and invite your flatmates to parties or gatherings you may have in the house. By the same token, also attend their parties. Find the balance so that you are neither festering in the house nor always be out.
5. Living with the landlord
I’ve done this on two occasions. The first, a very happy experience; the less said about the other, the better. If you are renting, then all flatmates should have equal responsibilities and rights. When you live with the owner of the house, you must accept that they have the last word on any decisions.
Sharing a space is a minefield. Try not to let the little things get to you, and don’t blow things out of proportion. The key is to communicate any concerns as soon as it arises. If tasks are not done to your standards, do it yourself without complaint. Should the living situation get really bad, move out.