At different times in life, living with someone can make great sense. Whether it be a family member, a friend, or even a romantic partner, a few simple decisions can help to ensure that your living situation remains calm, graceful, and balanced.
All homes, regardless of size, involve maintenance. Cleaning, kitchen policies, trash removal and general upkeep should all be addressed upfront in order to avoid tension. The answer is simple: identify and follow a structure that fits for everyone involved. Your plan may involve a chore wheel, assigning responsibilities by room, or fully outsourcing upkeep needs. Whatever you decide, ensure that everyone buys in to the process, and review the agreement whenever a new member of the house arrives or as needed.
Agree on a Guest Policy
Long-term visitors, overnight guests, large parties, friends who drop by, dinner parties…people will visit your home. But there are questions. Are significant others welcome anytime? Should larger parties be restricted to certain days of the week? Should regular guests be asked to help with regular chores? Can a guest spend time in common space without his/her host present? Outlining preferences for such occasions before any guests are in your home helps to alleviate any potential stress that may arise from having visitors.
We each have our routines. You may be a morning person who likes to enjoy coffee at home before going to work; your roommate may prefer to run out the door. You may enjoy late-night dinners on the weekends; your roommate may enjoy an early Sunday yoga class. Neither one of you needs to change, you simply need to respect each other. Keep loud noise to a minimum when someone is sleeping, do not take all of the hot water, and celebrate each other’s successes.
Divide Expenses Equitably
All living situations have a range of expenses, such as rent or a mortgage, power, water, gas, cable, internet, and maintenance, not to mention groceries and other flexible expenses. The most common approach is to share all of the expenses equally, but factors beyond a simple tally of costs might hold value (eg, housekeeping responsibilities, an assigned parking place). The key to avoiding tension is to determine an equitable split for all parties, based on whatever elements you identify as relevant.
If you approach being a roommate with a touch of grace, the benefits can far outweigh any potential challenges.
Sarah Carey is The Glamorous Housewife Etiquette Expert. You can read more about her here.