Nov 2, 2011

How to Live with Others

Learning to live with other students, roommates or your partner is something we will all pick up in time. However, you are not alone if you seem to struggle with finding great flatmates, or always come into conflict with those you live with.

Here are some tips that will help make living with others an easier process, and will help you avoid the common areas that can cause arguments or disputes.

1. Establish Boundaries.
When you first move into a new apartment together, or you meet your new flatmates for the first time: take the time to establish some boundaries and clarify what is and isn’t acceptable.

For example, is it okay to invite your friends over for dinner, or do you need to let your fellow roommates know first? How loud can you be during the evenings? Are there any days of the week where you need to particularly quiet?

It might feel a little awkward to discuss this first, especially if you do not know each other well, but it will save you from a lot of potential conflict further down the line.
Printing a list of the boundaries you have discussed and keeping this somewhere for reference (in the very rare case that you will need it) can also be a good idea.

2. Sync Your Times.
Cooking times, TV times and showering times are all areas that can get a little messy.

Be mindful of what time everyone needs to go to work in the morning and plan around this: maybe some of you will have to shower at night to avoid clashes in the morning.

If you have a very small kitchen, it is a good idea to stagger your cooking times, or look into cooking together.

3. Bond.Depending on who has signed the rental agreement, one of you will have had to pay a bond (unless you own the house yourself).

If you have all moved into the house at the same time, it is wise to suggest the bond is split evenly.

This will mean that, in the event something does break or you don’t get the entire bond back, the loss is shared evenly between all of you.

Establishing the bond as a condition of moving in will save you an unpleasant discussion at a later stage, especially if the bond is lost through no fault of your own.

4. Contract and Rent.
The most important part of a contract between flatmates is to protect you for when someone decides to move out.

Include a stipulation in the contract that they must give at least two weeks notice – meaning you will have time to find someone else – or perhaps even include a condition that they cannot move out until a replacement has been found.

This would mean if they moved out and did not fulfill these obligations, a
debt collection agency would be able easily to help you get back what money is owed.

5. Give Each Other Space.
One of the best things about living with others is the opportunity to build long lasting, close friendships.

Just as you hear stories about flats that have turned out to be disastrous – there are also many success stories. Whether you moved in together already as friends, or whether you were complete strangers – you can become closer as a result of living together.

Remember to give each other space and respect the need for privacy when appropriate – and avoid spending too much time together so as not become weary of one another. Finding the perfect balance is difficult - but not impossible. Good luck!

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