Words by: Beth Commons
Breaking free of the warm and nourishing arms that are those of Your Family Home is a risky but super exciting business. The exciting bit is that you can drink alcohol in the morning and not have a parent request your desistance. The risky bit is that you might find yourself living with the worst housemates ever or, even worse, being one yourself.
Here’s a little guide based on my varied share house experiences.
1. Do your dishes.
This is a classic rule. This is an important rule. One time a housemate of mine had had enough of our house and decided to move out. This was largely due to the enormous pile of dishes that never got done. When she moved out she left her dishes in the sink and a giant pot of soup on the stove. The soup was off. It was by no means a ‘farewell, thank you for being my housemates I am sorry to be leaving this wonderful house full of wonderful human beings’ soup. It was a ‘fuck you, fuck this house and your lax ways’ soup. Gross.
When you’re doing your dishes don’t fucking identify the dishes you and only you have used and only wash them. That’s dumb as all hell. Do all the dishes. At the very least your housemates will then say ‘thank you’ and even if they never return the favour at least you know you’re not an anal little idiot.
It’s important to do your dishes. Not just because coffee tastes so much better when it’s not contending with a month’s worth of dried silt at the bottom of the cup but also because it’s good to have available dishes. I went through a phase of just going to the op shop and buying new cups and bowls whenever every single one of them was buried in the sink at home. This is an expensive way to live. One time I ate spaghetti straight from the strainer. One time a housemate of mine drank his morning coffee out of a toothbrush holder. Do your dishes.
2. Don’t bitch.
At least not in the house. There’s no worse feeling than the betrayal you feel when you hear your housemates having a bitch about you clogging up the strainer with parmesan and not washing it out. Even worse is that sinking feeling you get in your stomach when a housemate you’ve been having a light bitch about has actually been home the whole time.
I know that you shouldn’t bitch at all. I know that. You should know that too. But the thing about living with other human beings is that they’re HUMAN BEINGS. Gross. Human beings are gross, they do heaps of bad shit.
If you want to have a bitch about another housemate to someone else, by all means go for it. You’re allowed to do that. Just make sure it doesn’t hurt their feelings. Feelings are important and real fragile. Look after each other. Also, here’s some classic mum advice*: talk to them about it. Like a real grown up. Write them a letter if you really want.
I, personally, loathe letters but whatever works for you, man. The reason I’m not a letter fan is because one time my housemate wrote me a nearly incoherent letter complaining about my ‘cleanliness’ and how ‘if something doesn’t change soon he will have to ask me to vacate the premises’ complete with little photographs of cheesecake wrappers on top of the bin. Like, a photo of the bin…where you put all your rubbish…when you wanna throw it out… Don’t bitch.
*My mother would never give me that advice. When I was going through these traumatic housemate woes she would talk very violently and suggest I plot my revenge.
3. Hang out.
My favourite houses have been the ones where we’ve all hung out in our spare time. I’m not just talking about hanging out on the couch whilst you’re both Tinder-ing. Like going places together, even if it’s just to the grocery store. This encourages you to learn about each other. You can discover if you buy the same brand of tampon (don’t steal their tampons) and you can assess what sort of vegetables tickle their fancy. Maybe they’ll even introduce you to the wonders of a new vegetable. Isn’t life fucking exciting?
4. Don’t steal food.
This one’s a big one for me. Don’t eat food that you haven’t bought with your own money in your own allocated grocery shopping time. You’re not an orphan in the streets of 1930’s London, you’re a grown-ass adult and you’ve got to be responsible for your own food.
I AM NO SAINT. One time I opened, proceeded to eat, then disposed of an entire jar of chocolate spread that didn’t belong to me. I never owned up to it and it still eats me up to this day. But I learned and grew from that experience and now live my life stealing nobody’s food. It’s a good idea. I don’t buy many groceries, I spend a lot of my time eating out because everything I create food wise is abhorrent, but when I do, I get super mad when my yoghurt goes missing or all of my grapes disappear.
I don’t earn enough cash money to be feeding the both of us. I don’t. Buy your own fucking grapes. Or replace them, whatever. Don’t, after you’ve replaced said stolen item then proceed to re-consume item. You are bad. This really happened one time. Bad.
5. Pay rent.
This may be obvious but some people don’t do that and in order to keep living in the house that you live in you need to pay rent ok it’s really easy you’ve just gotta do it you’ll never last a second in the ‘real world’ if you pay no rent unless you’re part of a commune or something but in that case you’d have to pull your weight by growing pumpkins or something and contributing something back you’ve just gotta pay rent you agreed to pay it so pay it don’t make someone else pay it for you ok it’s not on their shoulders that’s not fair life’s not fair obviously but try and make it fairer be fair to others there’s not some magic rent fairy that comes in the middle of the night and pulls out their Iphone and deposits your week’s rent into your landlord’s account that doesn’t exist and if you think it does you’re crazy ok that doesn’t exist rent exists so do payments what do you get when you combine those two together you get rent payments and that’s something you should be actively participating in ok so pay your rent goddamn.