Blog Post Wednesday 30 August 2017
Living in a share house is a great way to save on rent and living expenses. But just like any household, it does take effort to keep things running smoothly and avoid disputes. You’ll want to get everyone on the same page by having established rules, keeping communication lines open, and making saving and conservation a team effort.
Here’s our guide to getting you and your flatmates started on the right path (or back on track), so you can make the most of your shared home.
Having rules and boundaries from the start can save you from a lot of headaches and unnecessary stress. Put rules in place for cleaning up, having friends over, noise, and bills. Set aside a time when you can agree on the rules, write these down, and email everyone a copy. Use a whiteboard in the hall or kitchen for reminders about bills, upcoming visitors, and anything else everyone should be aware of.
Private spaces such as bedrooms, along with private property, are to be respected. Shared spaces, on the other hand, need their own set of rules for how they are used and kept clean. Related issues include music and noise levels.
It’s usually easier to separate your food and grocery shopping because everyone’s food preferences will likely differ. Assign designated areas for each household member in the fridge and pantry to avoid confusion over who bought what.
Assign cleaning and household chores to each member and hold people accountable for doing their bit. Discuss everything from the toilet and bathrooms to the garden and lawn mowing. Basic things like dirty dishes in the sink can be a major bugbear between housemates, so you might want to ban this from your household. People can have different ideas about what’s clean, so be as detailed as you need to be when setting out your rules. Include rules about cleaning up after pets, if you have any. A monthly roster clarifies who’s responsible for what and lets you keep track of what’s been done. If there are major issues with the level of cleanliness in your house, consider hiring a cleaner every couple of weeks so that the big jobs are sure to be done well.
Have general rules in place about loud parties and visitors. While the odd couch-surfing friend in the living room probably won’t be a major nuisance to your housemates, frequent visitors can be a drain on your household running costs and become a point of conflict, so address this before it arises.
Don’t follow rules too rigidly if there are situations warranting flexibility. Accommodate differences where you can, but making sure everyone’s following the same rules will encourage a sense of fairness and community.
You can start a household kitty for your rent and shared expenses, or split the bills when they arrive. Enlisting one person for each bill can make it easier because it makes someone accountable for ensuring the money is collected and paid on time. Maintain a kitty for smaller shared items such as toilet paper and cleaning liquid.
Encourage everyone to pay on time with app-based tools designed for housemates like Splitwise. Send out reminders ahead of time, and make one person in charge of bills each month. Always ask for a receipt when you provide your share of a bill or the rent. If you’re the one doing the collecting, always give the person paying a receipt to confirm you’ve received the money. Electronic funds transfer is the best way to pay because you will have each transaction logged on your bank statement.
Communicate money-saving strategies as a team effort. Look at ways to save extra cash by targeting major areas such as the laundry, bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchen. The hot water unit, air conditioner, and clothes dryer are your top energy-intensive appliances, so let everyone know they should minimise usage. Have a rule about running only full loads on the dishwasher and washing machine, and encourage everyone to take short showers by keeping a timer in the bathroom. Also examine the suppliers you’re using for internet, gas and electricity to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Other things to address can be stayovers and intensive users. A housemate who has their boyfriend or girlfriend over three or four nights a week could be asked to chip in extra cash to cover their partner’s use of utilities. Household members who work from home will be using more heating, cooking, and electricity than those who are out at work all day, so these housemates might need to pay more for what they use.
Organise group activities to bond with your housemates. It can be as informal as a shared dinner once a week, or it could be a weekend brunch once a month. Spending leisure time with your housemates can reduce tensions, encourage open communication, and help you avoid conflicts and disputes in the house.
Sharing a house with others can let you save money on rent and living expenses, but it can come with challenges. As long as you set agreed rules and boundaries and encourage a sense of communicate, you can avoid conflict, and even make some good friends along the way.