Right now, I live with my parents, and it is fucking great. I mean, a cooked meal every night of the week? Hell yes. A washing machine and drier on the property? Thank fuck. Snuggles with the cat and dog? Yes, please (bring me a lint roller). I guess not having to pay rent or utilities is pretty awesome, too. #win
It hasn’t always been this way, though.
When I was eighteen, I ‘moved out’ (temporarily) and went to Tauranga for work. I shared a house with my grandmother and great aunt, so it doesn’t *really* count in my mind. I was working twelve-hour days, so I was barely there. It was just four walls where I kept my things.
One year later, I moved (for real) to Hamilton, so I could go to university. I decided to skip the college halls experience and moved into a house with a group of friends. There were four of us altogether and the house was tiny. At the time, I think I called it ‘cute’ and ‘charming’, but in reality it was just very fucking small. There were two girls and two guys, so it was an even mix. Even so, it was a miracle that no one got murdered.
In 2014, I moved back to Hamilton to continue studying. This time I moved into a flat with four other boys. Yep. Four. Boys. And me. I think I was drunk 90% of the year. We used any and every excuse to have a beer or a Vodka Cruiser. #neverforget
I also discovered that boys gossip just as much as girls, they spend way longer in the shower (ew), and they actually knew how to cook (although cleaning was a bit hit and miss). We made bets on who would pull on a night out, who would have sex first, and played many, many games of ‘never have I ever’. It was a great house, but it was a party house. It was great if you wanted to get fucked up every day of the week, but terrible if you actually wanted to study.
In 2015, I decided to change everything. I swapped degrees. I swapped universities. I swapped cities. I moved to Auckland. And it was terrifying. Again, I moved in with a house of men who were the most anti-social people I have ever met. That didn’t last long before I moved into a house with five other people.
The house was beautiful, the people were nice, and the location was absolutely perfect. I loved it.
I have learned a thing or two in my many, many years of bouncing around and living with different flatmates. They’re just really fuckin’ gross.
There’s no other way to put it.
#1: No one is perfect.
Please remember this as you move into a house or as you get a new flatmate. You’ll both have your own ways of doing things, and that is normal. Maybe they leave their clothes on the line for two days, maybe they hoard coffee cups in their bedroom, or maybe they pee with the door just a little bit open. I remember raising my eyebrows when I saw a flatmate wash the absolute dirtiest dish first then follow on with the cleaner stuff. I shrugged and walked away; the dishes were getting clean and I didn’t have to do them for once. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
#2: Their bedroom is their space.
My first flatting experience in Auckland was a nightmare. The guys were anti-social fucks (excluding one), there were a list of rules a mile long, and the house went on the market within two weeks of me living there. Um, what? I got home from a date to find a real estate agent standing in my bedroom with the landlord. They had rearranged my stuff, taken photos, and added froo-froo crap to make it look more ‘homely’. No. No, no, no. I had left my door closed and locked that night, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the door was open. It never, ever means there’s an open invitation for someone to invade my space. In my other flats, we operated by the door open/door closed rule. You could come in if it was open, but you had to knock if it was closed. And never, ever take photos. #creepy
#3: Set rules about noise during the week and weekends.
Living with someone else means that you’re bound to run into trouble. Try living with five someone elses. None of our schedules matched. Everyone was out and about, locked in their room studying, or downstairs in the home gym. Some people had to get up for work at 6am and others slept in until 10am every day because they worked and studied from home (me). I think the general consensus is don’t be an asshole when it comes to making noise in the morning. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself how you would feel if the blender was going at 7am in the morning. You wouldn’t be a happy chappy, would you? Same rules apply for the random guy that you have in your room. All of us can see the strange car parked outside the house and the odd shoes in the entryway. There’s no need to have loud, annoying sex because 1) ew, and 2) we don’t want to know what your orgasm (real or fake) sounds like. #thanks
#4: Everyone has different habits.
This follows on from the ‘no one is perfect’ tip. Some people like to cook and clean up in the same hour. Others like to cook, eat and then clean. Some people like to cook (late at night) and then clean in the morning. Others never eat or clean at normal people hours and you wonder where all the food in the cupboard goes. Personally, I didn’t care what happened or how it got done. I just wanted it to get done without any passive aggressiveness. Once upon a time, I remember a dirty oven dish being left on the bench for five days before I gave in and washed it. I have also come downstairs to see passive aggressive notes like ‘clean this shithouse’; however, there have been notes like ‘help yourself’ left next to a plate of cookies.
#5: Make a god damn chore chart.
I have seen engaged and married couples who live on their own, and they still use a chore chart. No one likes vacuuming, moping, or cleaning bathrooms, but it still has to get done. Make a chore chart so there are no ‘he said, she said’ arguments and everyone knows what their responsibilities are for the week. Bonus: It keeps the house from getting really fuckin’ gross.
#6: Have a flat account.
Ideally, this wouldn’t be a regular account attached to one person, but it all depends on how long your flat wants to be together. I flatted with a group of people and we opened an account for the sole purpose of bills and flat expenses. Everyone had automatic payments going into the account for bills and boring things like toilet paper, floor cleaner, and gardening bills. We had an EFTPOS card that we shared and we had to bring the receipt back to prove that we had got stuff for the flat instead of spending up large. #ballin
#7: Be friendly.
This seems like a ‘no duh’, but I know a few people who didn’t actually talk to their flatmates. They were total strangers living in the same house. I’m not saying that you have to be best friends, but a “Hello, how was your day?” and a quick conversation can go a long way. I think it goes without saying that you should exchange details with your flatmates. Even just one of them. This means that you can send texts like “BRING TOILET PAPER UPSTAIRS PLS”, let them know that you’re alive when you haven’t come home for three days, or warn them if you are going to bring a random dude home for a night of wild sex.
Flatmates are just really fuckin’ gross.
They’re also lovely people who are trying to ‘do life’, just like you. Give them a break. And always remember that you can just hire a cleaner 😉