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August 5, 2009 12:40 PM   Subscribe

What are some things you wish you knew (or were glad you knew) before you moved into your first apartment with roommates? I'm looking for methods of splitting up chores, cooking, finances, resolving disputes, and dealing with common problems.
posted by yaymukund to Human Relations (40 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
See how long the roommates' hair is. See if they know not to put it down the shower drain.

spoken as a long-hair fellow who HATES that shit.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:42 PM on August 5, 2009


Do you know your roommates? That makes a big difference.

Also, if there's an obvious problem don't assume your roommates know about it. We had a flea problem a while back from my roommates cats that I thought she would've noticed since they're her cats. I also thought that she would take care of it (and her cats). I don't know how you can not notice them, but she didn't until I broke down and bought a fogger to take care of the problem.

It's similar to the hair in the drain. You think they would have some form of decency, but they won't.
posted by semp at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2009


My roommate and I made a "who bought what last chart" with columns for such things as toilet paper, paper towels, specific cleaning supplies, etc and initialed when each bought an item. We aimed to alternate, and it worked perfectly! We also decided that we would do a full cleaning every two weeks and made a permanent division of chores that would have to be done by the Sunday night of the every other week. I did the full kitchen except floor, I dusted the living room. She did all the floors (including vaccuming) and the full bathroom. We divided it based on tasks we didn't mind doing, etc. Also worked perfectly. The best advice I can give is to be explicit and reasonable. Passive aggressive is the worst possible thing for a roommate situation.
posted by Pineapplicious at 12:53 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beware of sluts and junkies. Even a little tendency towards either of those is pretty unpleasant to live with.

In retrospect I could not have made too much soup from scratch when living with roommates; it was cheap and appreciated. If you have a knack for baking or something like that, don't be stingy with it.
posted by kmennie at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2009


Well, from the shared living arrangements I've experienced, the most commmon area of contention is the dishes. Oh, you might also want to worry about the dishes. And you can't forget that the dishes may cause some problems.

Seriously, that shit never fails to get some blood boiling. I eventually adopted a position of tolerant responsibility. I always cleaned everything I used, and if occasionaly a roommate didn't clean a pot I needed, I'd just fucking clean it and move on. That is so much better for your sanity than passive-aggresively leaving dirty shit all over the kitchen.
posted by martens at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's been a long time since I had roommates, but I second Pineapplicious: write it all down. Have a discussion, write down who does what, and stick to it. Review occasionally if you need to.
posted by cooker girl at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2009


Don't assume your roommates will automatically replace toilet paper, milk, coffee, tea, etc., while you are steaming over the fact that you bought all of these last.

If they're anything like my old roommates, they will be wiping themselves with kitchen towels and rags, or drinking instant Bisto mix or hot water with sugar in it before replacing any needed household supplies. Set up a household kitty for these things; you won't need to put much in each week/month.

As for bills, split them equally as far as possible: No quibbling over who takes longer in the shower or who had the heat on at 5 a.m. If you have a landline phone in the house, that's different -- you can actually break down all the calls by user.
posted by vickyverky at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2009


Absolutely figure out how to assign chores. Don't just "let it happen" or rely on people to do things as needed--that will turn into one person doing all the work and resenting the others. The best method we found for splitting up the chores was to make a little wheel out of paper, divided into quadrants, each with a roommate's name. Then over that wheel, we attached a smaller wheel with a brad, divided that wheel into quadrants, each with a chore. Every week we turned the smaller wheel so that a chore corresponded with a name and you rotated through all 4 chores in a month. (I think for us, the chores were bathroom, trash/recycling, living room, and kitchen.)

I hope that makes sense.

If you can figure out a way to not take things personally when someone has a complaint, that will make your life infinitely easier.

Figure out now what you're going to do in terms of friends/significant others/visitors staying over. Seriously, figure that out now before someone's boyfriend or girlfriend becomes the unofficial extra roommate and the whole thing devolves into passive-aggressive throwdown.
posted by corey flood at 1:01 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


1 - Does your sink have a garbage disposal? Does everyone know that? Does everyone know what happens when the sink doesn't have one but you treat it like it does?

2 - Rules for giving people keys that aren't on the lease.

3 - What's the acceptable cleanliness level?

As far as splitting chores, I think it's a lot easier to have the same people do the same job all the time rather than rotating it. It lets you get into a routine easier that way. Some things are just silly to make the same person do all the time though (like taking out the trash) and really need to be done on an as needed basis.

Know everyone's schedule, at least to the point of when they'll be waking up and when they'll be going to bed. Don't force people into being awake when they don't want to be.

Set the ground rules early on for what's considered for community usage and what's only for owner usage. Also establish if I can go into your room and get a DVD that I want to watch (or other item that I want that's in your room).

How are you splitting the bills? I'm not going to sit here and tell you how that should be done because it really depends on the financial and exact living situations of everyone involved. But this split does need to be set up very early and stuck with.

Do you have to ask before you bring friends over? How long can they stay without asking first? How many is the limit before you need to ask first? Can the spend the night without asking first?

What do you do with dishes? I'm lucky and have a dishwasher, so things can get put in there. But be sure to let everyone know what isn't dishwasher safe.

When are you going to run the dishwasher? Mine's like a train, so we try to run it when we're going to be gone anyway.

When are you going to do laundry? Because there's not much worse than getting to that last pair of underwear thinking you can do laundry the next day then finding out that someone's using the machine.

Likewise, what can I do with your laundry if you leave it in the machine unattended?
posted by theichibun at 1:02 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Choose bedrooms BEFORE you move in. Ideally, before you sign the lease. Everyone thinks they'd be fine with any of the bedrooms, but then, oh boy, it can be rough.
posted by teragram at 1:03 PM on August 5, 2009


agreeing with the suggestions to discuss things, write down any rules/agreements, and not make any assumptions.

if you want to make sure things go smoothly, you need to talk about pretty much everything. you can't assume anything because everyone has different expectations and standards.

i posted a while ago, asking about how to be a good roommate and got some great suggestions for harmonious living. you might want to peruse the thread.
posted by gursky at 1:04 PM on August 5, 2009


Ask to see the utility bills for the past entire year.

I asked the property manager how much heat was in a place and he said $60/month in the winter. Winter came and the place was so drafty that it was several hundred a month, even with thick drapes and sealing off the windows.
posted by k8t at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, something else. Make sure you talk about food. As in who's paying for it (shared versus single occupant grocery shopping) and who's cooking it (one roommate for the whole place or everyone relatively for themselves).

Also, as much as I wouldn't want someone eating the key lime pie I got for my birthday, it's a shame to have it go to waste. Set a place in the fridge or time before the expiration date where things become fair game for anyone to eat. Stinky food is not fun to deal with.
posted by theichibun at 1:14 PM on August 5, 2009


Cleanliness and food are two major issues I've run into in the past.

Anecdote - moved in to an apartment with three other guys in college, and we agreed to share food staples but didn't have any sort of plan for it. First day there, I went grocery shopping and picked up a bunch of stuff for the house - milk, bread, OJ, etc. The gallon of orange juice I purchased that morning was gone by the evening. I happen to like OJ with breakfast, so when I found out the next morning, I went out and bought another gallon. Which disappeared in the same day. So I bought a third gallon on the third day. That one was also polished off in less than a day. I finally had to say that I was getting my own orange juice and it annoyed everyone else. So, have a solid plan if you're going to share any food at all. Google docs with a cost sharing spreadsheet might be appropriate.

I'm currently living with someone who does. not. clean. Ever. I'm a pretty tidy person, so this has ticked me off to no end - especially when she complains about any sort of mess. She actually told me about two months into our living arrangement that she "hates sweeping floors, so I'm not going to sweep them." So it was my job to sweep the floors all the time, and I would get complaints about the soot on the floors. This is a good friend of mine, too, so just be aware that you won't truly know your friends until you find their menstrual blood all over the toilet you live with them for awhile. Chore lists will help.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:14 PM on August 5, 2009


Roommates are not friends. Friends are not roommates. Treat it like a business because it is. Even with the best intentions, someone always gets screwed.

Ways to do this: make a bill in each person's name. So if Susan doesn't pay Bob for the cable, no one pays Susan for the electricity. You don't think that this sort of thing happens, but it does. And you of course want to pay *your* bill on time, but not everyone feels this way. Agree upon what you want for cable/internet. Discuss bittorrenting before it slows down your entire home network.

Don't share food beyond butter, salt and pepper - and then only if everyone cooks at about the same amount. In previous apartments this meant colored sticky circles. Sure, if you need to borrow someone's milk or whatever, ask and then buy them more. But sharing leads to trouble. If your lettuce is about to go bad, no problem putting a post-it saying "please help yourself to my lettuce."

Cleaning - everyone has different standards, shaped by personality and how they grew up. An easy solution is to all chip in for a cleaning service. Seriously. Around here it is $100 each month and worth it to avoid the hassle. As far as day-to-day cleaning up, I generally ask roommates to keep their own shit in their own rooms. Common areas like living room, kitchen and bathrooms should be kept as tidy as possible and as free of people's shit as possible.

Supplies - try to buy as little as possible. At the time it seems great to split the cost of a blender, but then when you move, who gets it? Or, if you buy the DVD player and then someone breaks it, what then? Get used stuff from Goodwill or where ever and you won't have to worry about it as much.

Guests - have a policy on guests. Perhaps guests must sleep in the room of the roommate they know. Perhaps guests can only stay for 3 days?

Good luck!
posted by k8t at 1:14 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Make sure you know ahead of time about any significant others and how much time they'll be spending at the apartment. You may think you're moving in with 2 other people only to find out you're really moving in with 4.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2009


-Settle all your finances before you move in. Everyone in the apartment should know exactly how much they'll be paying each month for rent, utilities, internet, cable, etc, and they should be comfortable and happy with that amount. Make sure everyone feels like they are paying a fair amount and not being cheated, or else you may end up with some very bitter roommates.

-Settle how you will split the costs of supplies for the apartment: cleaning supplies, furniture, toilet paper, etc. In my current apartment, everyone keeps all their receipts and we tally it up and split evenly, but in my last two apartments everyone just bought their own stuff and we called it even.

-Decide on the bill payers now: Who will handle paying the bills each month and then collecting checks from everyone else for rent, utilities, etc?

-Respect your roommates' schedules; if you want to do an apartment task together (cleaning, building furniture, etc.) plan it together ahead of time.

-Ask your roommates now how they each feel about communally sharing pots, pans, dishes, utensils, etc. Some people are more protective of their kitchen equipment--pans and knives can be expensive.

-If you have an issue or conflict with one of your roommates, approach them privately and discuss. Be mindful and don't vent or complain about him/her to your other roommates. If you can't resolve it between yourselves you can consider bringing your other roommates as mediators into an open, communal discussion.

-In short, don't assume anything; always ask.

-Beer covers over a multitude of sins.
posted by chalbe at 1:17 PM on August 5, 2009


Things that seem perfectly normal to you might be completely disgusting or otherwise unacceptable to a roommate.

Things that seem perfectly normal to a roommate might be completely disgusting or otherwise unacceptable to you.

[the hair thing referenced in the first comment is a good example of this]

Even if you're both from the same country, or the same U.S. state, you might come from very different cultures. It's not just a sitcom thing.

For example: a semi-rural household with depressed lower-middle-class parents will have been a very different upbringing from an urban household with highly educated parents.
posted by amtho at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2009


It sounds like you've already chosen roommates, but in the future a good rule to know is this: good friends do not necessarily make good roommates.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2009


WRITE IT ALL DOWN

i know it's been said in this thread before, but it really can't be understated.

all bill agreements are written down, signed, and every roommate gets a copy. if a roommate is late on a bill, already have a structure in place for that. if you loan money to a roommate, WRITE IT DOWN. don't combine music, movies, books, or video games. don't expect a mad roommate who is moving out due to nonpayment will move out responsibly. be there and watching (lest they ruin hundreds of dollars of art supplies, furniture, and walls).

WRITE IT ALL DOWN!
posted by nadawi at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2009


My daughter just moved in with a new roommate and the biggest issue that has come up between them is boundaries regarding personal property. Basically, personal property in a shared housing situation falls into three categories:

1. Things of mine which my roommate(s) can freely borrow without seeking permission.

2. Things of mine which my roommate(s) may borrow, but only with permission.
2a. Permission must be asked each time the property is borrowed, or
2b. Permission, once given, is continuous unless specifically revoked.

3. Things of mine which my roommate(s) may never borrow, ever.

The wording may sound overly formal, but if you get those boundaries set ahead of time, you'll avoid a lot of conflict.
posted by amyms at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


One thing I did back in college that worked pretty well was having a "house fund" that we'd each kick in $10 a week to buy things we ALL used; toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, some basic food items like butter, milk, salt and pepper and stuff like that. Whatever money was leftover, we'd put in a jar on the fridge and use throughout the week for more milk or anything that needed buying for the house. Like if we ran out of toilet paper, I'd take the money from the jar, buy it, and put in the receipt.

It worked pretty well and kept people from bickering over stupid stuff like "I bought the dishwashing detergent last time!"
posted by NoraCharles at 1:47 PM on August 5, 2009


Overall, roommates can be awesome and really enhance your life.

If you get mad, say something right away.
posted by kathrineg at 2:08 PM on August 5, 2009


Oh and don't talk smack about your roommate until you've discussed the issue with them. It will make things worse.
posted by kathrineg at 2:09 PM on August 5, 2009


All the roommates in my house have paypal accounts and whenever someone pays for a household item they send a bill to everyone else for how much they owe. It makes it really easy to keep track of and doesn't require any paperwork. We also have a whiteboard where we keep track of what we need from the store, so when someone goes they check the list and buy the stuff we need.
posted by kms at 2:46 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you are going to live together because you like living with people (who like living with people), you'll have a better start than if you're coming together only to share finances.

You've listed most of the hot topics. Definitely discuss these with your potential housemates -- before they become housemates. Where are your preferences similar, and where different? Can you find common ground in the areas you differ on? Most of these things have no right or wrong ways, just different ways, and life goes much more smoothly if no one of you is so different from the others that you feel at cross purposes. Some other potentially hot areas to consider are overnight guests, guests becoming de-facto room-mates, orderliness and cleanliness of the house, noise and hours, sharing (or not) of personal things in the shared spaces (someone owns the TV, f/ex), what's meant to be shared and what isn't (food in the fridge? my computer?). What are your personal hot-zones vs. don't cares? I want a clean kitchen and a moderately clean bathroom. I don't want to face stale beer in the living room in the morning but I don't care if your Sunday paper is scattered about.

If you (personally) first sign the lease and then interview and select housemates who seem comfortable with your well thought out and stated-up-front intentions about some of these things, you'll have agood start; probably a better one than if you and three of your drinking buddies just decide to give living together a try, and then start figuring these things out as you go.

Here's some of what has worked for me in the past:

Chores: Make a list of chores we agree we want done regularly and post it. Each Sunday night, each one sign up for however many makes a fairshare. (It helps if you divide the work into (1 or 2)*(# ofroom-mates) distinct chores). Usually someone doesn't mind cleaning the bathroom once a week, and someone else would rather do a smaller but more frequent chore, so this usually works fairly smoothly. And if I come home on Sunday too late to get my favorite one this week, oh well, it's only for a week.

Finances: What will we buy in common? How will we split the utilities? Who will pay the landlord and each utility bill, and make sure it's done on time? Have a system, such as keeping a jar for everyone to put in their initialed store receipts or a note that they paid a bill and how much. One of the listed chores can be to collect the receipts and figure out who paid how much, and who owes what to whom to make it even. (Though in practice, there was usually only one or two who understood or cared how to do that, and they donated that bit outside of the chore scheme).

Disputes: We agreed to hold a house-meeting once a month, need it or not, typically over Sunday night dinner, but the date was negotiated each month. It gave us a chance to check in with everyone else and talk about any changes anyone felt they'd like, before an irritant became a bigger issue. Most times there wasn't much house business so the rest of dinner was a social time. That in itself made the day-to-day run more smoothly.

To keep the accounting simpler, have it feel more like home than a business, and to encourage meeting more of one anothers' friends (one of the benefits of group living), we agreed we wouldn't count the meals we missed or personal guests we fed unless something was especially skewed that month. Non 'per-head' expenses like heat and rent never got pro-rated; those were expenses we each committed to.

Each one's bedroom was their private space where they could count on being alone and it was not to be entered without an invitation. We agreed individually whether we wanted the vacuuming chore-person to vacuum our space or not.

We encouraged guests, including overnight, with the caveat that mitigating our guest's impact on the household was our personal responsibility to our housemates. Relationship partners were welcome and encouraged with the understanding that our room-mate would as often go to the parner's house as the partner came to ours: no defacto housemates. (When a new friend would stay over with one of us who leaves early for work, this sometimes made for an unexpected and humorous introduction over the breakfast table)!

Well, gee, this is becoming a small book. Sorry if it's a TL;DR. Maybe I'd sum it up this way: I viewed my group homes as my 'home' and tried to make it work and feel like one.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 2:57 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of valuable advice here, so I'll mark it as resolved but please continue posting. I'm getting a clear message that it's supremely important to communicate and write things in a book even if we are best friends to make sure nothing is taken personally. We've been planning some of this stuff using facebook private messages, so a lot of it is already documented. Maybe we could have an apartment wiki...

semp: "Do you know your roommates? That makes a big difference."

Yup. They are my best friends, and two of them actually roomed together last year.

gursky: "i posted a while ago, asking about how to be a good roommate and got some great suggestions for harmonious living. you might want to peruse the thread."

Oh hey, that question was fantastic. I'll definitely be rereading that soon.
posted by yaymukund at 2:59 PM on August 5, 2009


It is neither bad nor good, but things like cleanliness, bill paying responsibility, household chores and other points of conflict will always sink to the lowest common denominator in a group living situation.

The narrower the spread between the Felix and the Oscar, the happier your household will be.
posted by quarterframer at 3:02 PM on August 5, 2009


Avoid, if at all possible, living with anyone who you suspect might be a little self centered or spoiled (even if under non-co-habitational circumstances they are your best friend). If you have that feeling about yourself: if you make a mess, you clean it up. If someone else discovers your mess, you clean it up. If you're not home and someone else starts to clean up your mess but when you get there they're in the middle, you finish cleaning it up. If you make a mess but you have to be somewhere, well, you're going to be late, because you clean it up. I cannot stress this point enough: take responsibility for yourself, and everyone will be happier.

Don't get defensive. Inevitably you will do things that will bother your roommates, and vice versa. It's much easier to resolve a dispute over dirty dishes than over "feeling hurt that you took that tone with me!"

If you notice that a common area seems cleaner than it did before, ask who cleaned it (this is assuming you choose not to go with the chore wheel). Say "thanks."

Housewarming parties are customary, but I recommend not throwing a party until you know exactly how much of their cleaning weight your roommates are going to pull.
posted by telegraph at 3:40 PM on August 5, 2009


I've lived with a few different sets of people, and tried a few different ways of doing things.

Cleaning: You might be tempted to think "we're all adults, no need for anything like a rotor" but when I have tried this, the result has been uneven distribution of cleaning tasks.

Food and the sharing thereof: Taking turns doing the cooking and the washing up, and shopping communally, can work fine - if you've got the right people for it, which is to say people who will turn up to meals, can do their assigned tasks properly, and can pay. On the other hand, everyone taking care of their own food etc keeps things simple and lets anyone eat the things they want, when they want.

Personally I would say if you aren't going to fully go in for cooking as a house, you don't want to share things beyond salt and pepper (unless you have a shop in easy walking distance) otherwise you'll go to make your sandwiches before work and someone will have finished all the bread - or all the cereal before your breakfast, or all the milk, or all the orange juice, or used all the garlic, or the last of the onions etc.

Buying things communally: If you're going to have a house account/kitty, consider defining in advance what it can be used to pay for, as I've seen housemates in the past saying "we really need a better iron and ironing board so I got them for $100" and that's $20 out of my pocket right there. Not a problem for me, but frustrating for my other housemate who was tight up for money at the time. Also, it was difficult to equitably split up left-over communal purchases.

At one house I lived at we didn't do any communal buying, or have a buying rotor, but the only things we shared were toilet paper and washing up liquid; and nobody had a problem with the store's cheapest 12-roll economy packs of toilet paper. I ended up doing most of the purchasing, but the cost to me wasn't a problem because we got through about $20 of toilet paper a year.

Maybe I've been lucky with my roommates, but I havn't encountered the problems people mention above like disuputes, guests, and people borrowing things.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2009


Sharing food can work. I lived in a house with three other people, only one of whom had a schedule very similar to mine. The house rule was such that everyone took care of their own grocery needs, but I made a deal with this roommate that we would share some grocery costs. We ended up going to the grocery store and cooking together most of the time, so it saved us a good bit of time and money to pair up with respect to food.

Otherwise, I don't think there are a lot of situations where sharing food with roommates actually works. You will come home after a long day at work/school/whatever, you will be craving that steak/fish/block of tofu you have stored away, it will be gone, and you will get angry.

The only other thing I can think of is it sucks when roommates neglect their laundry. It smells, and it's incredibly inconvenient when people leave their clothing in the washer/dryer and go out of town for the weekend. If your apartment has a washer/dryer in-suite, be aware of that.
posted by threetoed at 3:54 PM on August 5, 2009


There is such a huge difference between roommates that are your friends and those that are not. Honestly, its a lot easier to be roommates with people you don't socialize with too much - you get your space, its easier to deal with business, feels less personal. So since these are your best friends, be very careful - feelings and expectations can get hurt quickly.

For example, (a long time ago) I lived with one of my best friends. We were terribly excited to live together. And then I got a gig on the road, so I was out of town a lot. That pissed her off, she expected me to be around so we could hang. My gig ended, so I was home more often, but in the meantime, she got an SO. An SO that was ALWAYS there, and was a weirdo, and they would lock themselves in her room and screw each other's brain's out to Nine Inch Nails. And her boyfriend was a jealous creep that hated me for being a dude. And she never cleaned anything, and her cat smelled. And I was drinking too much at the time and would bring home women at all hours (see "sluts" and "junkies' above, its good advice), and for some reason at that time in my life did not know how to put CDs back in to their jewel cases and scratched all her music.

And so, obviously, my roommate who was a best friend and I grew apart, a lot, and it took being non-roommates to get back to being close friends.

But living with close friends can be tremendously rewarding. Congrats, and I hope you enjoy it and all grow together. I think if you are mindful that it takes some work, you'll all do well.
posted by RajahKing at 4:20 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Get a house cleaner.
Write everything down.
posted by bensherman at 4:46 PM on August 5, 2009


You would not BELIEVE the fights you can have over toilet paper. Whose turn it is to buy it, who used up the last roll and didn't say anything, who never puts a fresh roll out... insanely insipid arguments about toilet paper.

When I had roommates, 95% of all our fights about food, chores, toilet paper, taking out the trash -- 95% of those fights were really about other things we were pissed at but didn't feel we could talk about. For example, "My feelings were hurt when the other three roommates went out and didn't invite me, therefore I will overreact about the dishes in the sink." (The other 5% really were about chores and bills.) You have a way better shot of clearing up problems if you fight about the things you're actually upset about.

Be aware that everyone's tolerance for how dirty a place gets before Something Must Be Done About This Pigsty is different. And bear in mind that if you decide you are going to surprise the roommates by giving the place a great cleaning -- vacuuming, dusting, mopping, doing all the dishes, tidying up all the books, etc. -- don't be surprised or hurt if they don't notice. Some people really just don't see messes the same way.
posted by stennieville at 4:57 PM on August 5, 2009


I had the same 3 roommates for 4 years and we got along very well, except about dishes. What finally worked was to have lots of forks and lots of cups/mugs. Each person had their own dishpan (a plastic pan from the dollar store on the counter; we used tangerine crates, actually). Each person's dirty dishes get piled in their own pan, and they do them on their own schedule, but your dishes MUST go in your pan. And anything you only have one of (frying pan, big knife, etc) must be cleaned immediately.

We also did periodic cash-ins for household stuff: $10 each and whoever had a car would go get whatever cleaning products the house needed (dish soap, mop stuff, vacuum bags, etc.) and then spend all the rest on huge bales of toilet paper.

Also, don't underestimate the need for bonding. Do little favours for each other- for instance, if I cooked or bought nice fruit I'd always bring a little bowl of cherries or whatever to my roommate as he worked. And try to share a conversation with food, coffee, beer, or laughter etc at least twice a week, otherwise small annoyances will fester. A $3 box of cupcake mix followed by an impromptu living room cupcake party every few weeks will go a long way towards keeping things nice.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:04 PM on August 5, 2009


Are you on the same general schedule? In my first (and hopefully only) roommate endeavor, three of us had 8am courses and the fourth roommate had evening classes and was up at all hours of the night after class with tv and/or music on in the living room. So, discuss noise expectations and perhaps if appropriate set a time limit for excessive noise in the common areas if you think it reasonable. Good luck!
posted by Asherah at 5:28 PM on August 5, 2009


I think the posters above make some very good points. I feel I should add, "get emergency contact information for your roommates!" There's nothing worse than having an accident happen to a roommate and realise you have no idea who to get in touch with.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:05 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seriously, that shit never fails to get some blood boiling. I eventually adopted a position of tolerant responsibility. I always cleaned everything I used, and if occasionaly a roommate didn't clean a pot I needed, I'd just fucking clean it and move on. That is so much better for your sanity than passive-aggresively leaving dirty shit all over the kitchen.

This is spot on. I have no time in my life for drama. If someone is going to be a lazy bugger and not clean up, I don't care. A large washup takes half an hour, tidying up doesn't take long either. I'd rather just spend that time doing it than either stew over something or waste time trying to give life advice to the lazy.

They're roommates, you're not likely to be living with them for your entire life, so a few irritations can be glossed over for the time you're there. Then eventually you'll move beyond all of that, have your own place and all the mess will be your own, you'll have nobody to blame but yourself for any of the mess, and it will all be glorious.
posted by knapah at 6:30 PM on August 5, 2009


Come up with some general guidelines/rules ahead of time about use of facilities that use up a lot of power or gas. I just moved out of a share house because the utility bills were getting completely out of control (think four-digit electricity and high three-digit gas bills).

My roommates were fine with leaving the central heating running 24/7, running an additional heater in their room very nearly 24/7, never turning lights off, running the dishwasher for a couple of forks and spoons, using the dryer for a few pairs of socks, etc, while my partner and I preferred to minimise our use as much as possible (ideally we would have liked no heating whatsoever, and to use a rack instead of a dryer, etc.)

I'm not saying that either of these positions is inherently correct, but that differing expectations about reasonable use can and will lead to resentment - one person might feel that it's unfair that they need to subsidise the use of facilities they would prefer not to use, while another wishes Stingy McStingypants would stop bugging them about the goddamn heater already.

So if you don't know in advance that your potential roommates feel the same way that you do about heating, AC, use of dryers/dishwashers/lights (and I bet you don't, even if you think you do), I highly recommend you work out some house rules for such things. Save yourself the pain.
posted by lwb at 6:43 PM on August 5, 2009


Me and my housemate go out together once a month to buy cleaning supplies and communal stuff like coffee - it's better to always go together, even if you don't need that much stuff, otherwise it turns into one person buying everything on their own and lugging it back to the house throughout the month. Or passive-aggressively 'waiting' for the other to notice that we're out of washing powder, which of course doesn't work at all. It's something that sounds really simple but has the potential to cut out a lot of annoyance.
posted by cryptozoology at 7:07 AM on August 6, 2009


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