House-sharing. In my mind, it’s always so sensationalised in TV shows. Friends for example, how many times did they actually disagree about who’s going to clean? Or in Gossip Girl..you don’t see any disagreements on broken dishes, washing up being left (ok, we’re not talking about B or Serena’s family homes) or anyone constantly waking each other up, or jumping in the bathroom outside of agreed slots. Ok, that last one can be a bit picky, but you know what I mean. It doesn’t show the actual real side of sharing a house with friends or ‘strangers’ through Spareroom.
Having done house or flat sharing for more than eight years now, I’m going to tell you.. it’s really bludy hard. In fact, I think it’s one of the hardest things to conquer when moving to a big city. So if you’re finding it hard too – that’s totally normal. Small things can add up, and before you know it you’re wishing you were living alone. Which isn’t really realistic if you’ve just moved to the big smoke, and even 6 years down the line for me, still wouldn’t be.
The fact is, you’re with the housemates either side of work, which can be stressful. And if you’re going back to somewhere where things can be a little on edge through difference in opinion, habits and personal standards, it isn’t really conducive to a happy atmosphere, or a happy you. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and there are things you can do to make it better.. because let’s face it, a few little changes are a lot easier than trying to afford somewhere on your own (especially in London!).
Perfect your profile, do as many flat viewings as possible and vet your future housemates.
I know this sounds more serious than it is, but it’s so important that you know you’ll get on. Well for the most part, as you don’t actually know what someone is really like until you’re in.
Make sure your profile is true to yourself and what you’re looking for, so people can get a good feel for what you’re like by reading about you. Be honest – don’t be afraid to put how important ‘me time’ is to you, if you feel that way. Not everyone is looking for a party household, and you need the right balance for you too.
Do make sure you ask prospective housemates as many questions as you can. Your flat viewings are as much for you to find your perfect spot, as it is for people looking for a flatmate to find the right one for them. Go for a drink, ask questions about cleaning rotas, how things work, what their ideal flatmate would be like, etc to see if it works for you.
My old Spareroom profile.
Remember you will have to compromise on things. You can’t have everything your way.
I found this really hard to start with. I sure am one to really like things ‘just so’ – you know sparkly clean, tidy, topped up. But not everyone works/lives like this, and that’s totally fine too. You have to realise, that what usually works for you might not be how it works for others.
Make a list of pros and cons for every flat viewing and use these to help you weigh them up against each other. Realistically, not many flats, if any, are going to just have pros so you need to decide what you’ll negotiate on. It may be little things, but you should keep your list for if these start to get you down, so you can remind yourself what you compromised on this little thing for.
Don’t let every little thing get to you. Think of the positives.
When people are annoying you it can quite often get to the point when every little thing gets on your wick. Like everything. When they leave the bin until it’s overflowing, when they wake you up early in the morning or even just when they leave light on. I’ve got to that point before, and it’s so counterproductive. Things will then spiral negatively, and it just gets worse.
You need to think of the positives – spending less to live there, you’re not lonely, you have people on hand if you need anything, and realistically it’s only 2 mins out of your time to clear up that little thing to keep the happy balance. Try keep a list of these good things, or remind yourself of more when you can feel stuff getting to you. It helps. You totally got this.
Put processes into practice…
If things are really getting bad, speak to your housemates nicely and try to come to an agreement on what you can do to sort it out. Whether that’s a cleaning rota, bathroom slots, or whatever you decide between you. If you come up with it together, you’re likely to both stick to it – especially if you both know it’s important to helping keep a happy house balance. Because you guys hose to live together for a reason – you do actually really like each other!
Spend quality time together.
This is also key. You’re less likely to get annoyed at people you actually really like spending time with. You might let it slip more if they use your stuff, might not get annoyed if they accidentally get up late and jump in your bathroom slot, and might ignore being woken up too. So get those house dates in. Make plans to dine together, go for a drink or whatever you all like to do. Spend time bonding, and try to push the little things to the side, so you can focus on why you chose this housemate. Realistically, they’re pretty cool too right?
Don’t compare yourself to others
Everyone’s situations are different. You can’t compare yourself to others your age, who might already be living with partners, or can afford their own place. That’ll be you one day. But right now, you’re house-sharing for a reason – so you can’t compare yourself. Like most things, comparing yourself can be harmful to your mental health. So only think about you, what you’re doing it for and how to make things work for you.
Make your room the best it can be
Your room is your safe space. If your housemates are getting on your nerves, it gives you somewhere to escape to. So make it your own. Make it everything you want it to be. And you’ll love your space, and equally your home. I loved making my room more me, and have done so again since moving in with Chris – our flat is finally starting to look like home.
House sharing really does come with both ups and downs. Try to focus on the ups as much as you can.
It’s worth it overall, so you can live in the area you want. And remember, it’s not forever. Keep saving and you’ll get that flat or house you’re dreaming of eventually. Then you’ll look back and laugh at everything you went through.
Do you house-share? How do you find it?