Skip

Movin' On In
September 18, 2012 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Moving in with two roommates - one friend, and one other guy the two of us just met. What haven't I thought of, and what should I be prepared to deal with? Long list of stuff inside.

The new guy (I'll call him James) is 20, I'm 22, and my friend (I'll call him Tim) is 24. James works full time and will be going to school next semester (and reducing his hours a little to do so). I work and go to school. Tim works and is on his way out of grad school.

We met James the other night for coffee, and got along pretty well. Tim is very quiet, so it was mostly me and James talking, and both of us checking in with Tim to make sure he was on board with what we were saying. (It should be noted that, while Tim is quiet, he will give an honest opinion if prompted, and I've tried to get in the habit of prompting frequently for this purpose.)

We agreed that the electric bill should be in my or James' name, since we both have good credit. We'll be splitting everything three ways evenly (which I'll have in writing, of course). We'll keep the place cool through the winter to cut down on utility bills, watch ourselves and each other to remember to unplug things when we're done using them, etc. We're going to set up a group grocery "fund," and anything that only one of us wants they can buy themselves (like soda, for example, which neither James nor I drink). Cleaning will be up to the individual in their own room, and the common areas are to be kept free of junk (mostly; study materials lying around is to be expected, but generally the rule is "pick up your shit"). Cleaning we're going to figure out more specifically later, but James and I already agreed that I would do dishes if he'd clean the bathroom.

Privacy: If the door's closed, don't go in. If you need something, knock, and if there's no answer, too bad. Bathroom privacy: whomever is in there, leave them alone until they're done. We'll compare schedules for morning getting-ready time when we see what we've got to work with (I can brush my teeth at the kitchen sink while someone else showers, for example). We agreed to keep each other abreast of busy times and to be quiet when others are sleeping, to respect study times, etc. None of us plan on playing loud music in general, but if we want to, or want to turn up the volume on a movie or video game we'll check first.

What do I need to know about having alcohol in an apartment where one person isn't yet legal? None of us are partiers. We agreed that if we're thinking of bringing a friend or friends over, we'll ask first (or if we know we don't want anyone over on a given night, tell the other two beforehand). We haven't discussed overnight stays yet, but I plan on bringing it up and keeping a "couple nights a week or she helps pay rent" policy if that's agreeable with the others. None of us smoke, but the policy for friends who do is that they can take it outside. I was very clear that I don't want to smell any smoke, so closing windows, making friends walk away a little, etc has already been discussed. I am a hard-ass about this, and have told James this (Tim already knows).

I have a cat. I will handle the litter box, but will ask the others if they are okay with taking care of it if I am away for a night. Same for if she pukes anywhere. I will also vaccuum a little extra to compensate for the hair. I have made it very clear that she is an indoor cat, and will be mentioning that she likes to bolt, and thus the door/windows should never be left open (without a screen, of course).

We'll all be making sure to lock doors, windows, etc. I was thinking of either requesting that the landlord change the locks immediately when we move in, or doing it ourselves and handing a spare key to the landlord. Too much? I've heard horror stories of landlords who just use the same 3-4 locks all the time, or who give out keys to the wrong apartment. What's the right level of caution here?

I am bringing most (possibly all) of the furniture. Tim is bringing some cookware. I may be bringing dishes (James doesn't own much that could be considered apartment furnishing). We agreed that if we need anything else we'll go three ways on it, and when we move out/split up the person who gets it will buy the others out. If anyone spills/breaks/damages anything, we agreed that they'll pay for it to be repaired. What if something is broken irreprably? I don't honestly see it being a potential problem, but let's say worst case scenario here. Or what if a friend breaks something? The odd glass or plate doesn't count; everybody drops things.

I feel pretty prepared overall, but I'd still like to make sure everything is squared away. What should I have in a written agreement, and what can be verbal? What am I not thinking of?

Oh, and what would be the best way to pay rent? I'm thinking either each of us contributing cash to a "rent envelope" or two people giving cash to the third, who then writes a check to the landlord. Good idea? Bad idea? Alternatives?
posted by Urban Winter to Human Relations (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
All of that sounds like you've covered it. That sounds very similar to how I've handled roommate situations in the past.

As for the rent - whose name will the lease be under? Whoever's name the lease is under should be cutting the check, and the others should be paying them. If it's under all your names, see what your landlord would like; maybe he's cool with each of you cutting a separate check for your share of the rent.

I think things like chores/houseguests/smoking rules can be verbal. I also think changing the locks immediately may be overkill; I've known a ton of people who've moved in and out of a ton of apartments over the years here in New York, and no one's EVER had a problem with landlords using the same 3 locks all the time (or if they did, they also were dickish landlords in a host of other ways so the locks was like the least of their concerns compared to not having hot water and stuff).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on September 18, 2012


The only thing I would suggest is that instead of say, splitting the cost of big items 3-way when you need them, just have one person buy it, and have it be theirs. This is because when it's time to move out, none of you might want that couch (or whatever it is), or the guy who gets the couch might not want to pay the rest of you as much money as you would like, since it is no longer a new couch, etc. Maybe have one person buy it, and if applicable, split a furniture-care/insurance plan 3-ways for the time that you're living together, so in case anything happens to it, it gets repaired and the guy who spent his money on it doesn't end up with a stained couch.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 9:36 AM on September 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Both times I've lived with roommates (once with 10, once with 1), there was a house bank account, which was really just a separate checking account in someone's name that they wrote the rent check out of. When there were 11 of us, this made a lot of sense because the house actually took in income by renting parking spaces in the driveway, which paid for the utilities and house food (and tampons, which were declared a communal item given 8 or 9 tampon-users). Any leftover money was split each year when the lease came up for renewal and people moved in/out. When there were just two of us, this was a bit pointless because splitting the cost of toilet paper or whatever between the two of you is easy--someone fetches their wallet when you get home. However, you may find it easier to say everyone puts $X into the account for house expenditures each month and just have whoever controls the account write the person who bought the toilet paper a check for the whole amount rather than having to remember to get both people to pay someone back.
posted by hoyland at 9:36 AM on September 18, 2012


A standard contribution from each roommate for the grocery fund is a good system--for example, $20 each every Thursday in the grocery money jar, and then whoever shops uses that cash.

You might want to look into internet transfers for splitting the bills and rent, if you all use internet banking. It's very convenient, you will always have a record, and if you want you can set up automatic transfers. I've lived in a house that had a separate bank account for rent, and I've also been the person who received online transfers and wrote a cheque every month. Discuss in advance what will happen if one person is late (maybe they forgot) or doesn't have the money--hopefully it won't happen, but you'll want to be prepared if it does. Make sure there is some float somewhere, whether you have a rent money account or use an envelope or if it's you writing the cheques... you should ideally be in a situation where you will never be late on your rent even if one person doesn't pay on time for some reason. (You could also try to plan for both roommates failing to pay, but that to me seems like overkill.) Or if, as EmpressCallipygos says, your landlord is OK with each of you writing a separate cheque, that's a good way to go too.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:38 AM on September 18, 2012


Sharing groceries is rife with potential conflict. You haven't lived until you've argued with someone about exactly how many slices of bread they ate last week.

Just get your own groceries and if you seem to be cooking meals together a lot or sharing a lot, maybe start to consider sharing. It's much easier to have people say "oh hey, if you want some leftovers can you chip in? It cost about $10 to make that" and then the person says "sure, here's a $5" than to try to make shopping lists together and all of that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:11 AM on September 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I would have to agree with young rope rider about groceries. I have always bought my own groceries when living with people (and have been living with roommates for the past 11 years) and the best situation was my previous living arrangement where there were 5 of us total and we all bought our own food but had a general sharing policy regarding staples (flour, olive oil, things of that nature). Perhaps this worked out because we were all easy-going and became very good friends by the end, but I think it is the best when the only thing you are fighting over is who bought toilet paper last time and not arguing over who ate the most bread. It also helped that when people moved out, they tended to leave massive amounts of weird food that we all split up.
posted by ruhroh at 10:18 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I lived in an apartment with two other young women (all of us in our early 20's, two of us students) during my last year of college, and it does sound like you've pretty much got everything covered. Here's what worked for us:

We split up the bills so that each of us had something we were responsible for, and the other two would give that person a check for our share each month. So for instance, internet was $45 and I would pay the person who was paying the internet bill $15 each month. She paid the bills online and simply deposited our checks. Our landlords had us put all of our names on the lease, but they wanted us to pay a single check for the rent each month, so we used the same process but rotated from one month to the next, and we used a sticky note on the fridge to keep track of the rotation. You could also just have a designated rent payer, but I think having a rotation increased accountability and timeliness.

For groceries, we had a couple of cabinets with items we were happy to share, mainly stuff like cooking oil, flour, sugar, etc, and we shared milk and butter as well. We had a list on the fridge where we'd write down any shared items that were running low, and since each of us made our own personal weekly/biweekly trips to the grocery store, we'd pick up whatever items were needed then, and it just evened out that we each spent more or less the same amount on shared groceries. Doing it as a group fund isn't a bad idea either, especially if you have someone who doesn't eat a lot or tends to buy in bulk at the beginning of the month. An important thing we learned was: you always need more toilet paper than you think you do.

We also had a rotating chore schedule. The three chores were sweeping (or vacuuming) floors/tidying living room, cleaning kitchen, and cleaning bathroom. Everyone took care of her own room, but we checked before moving in that we had compatible hygeine habits.

We had a zero-tolerance policy re:smoking and illegal drug use.

We never had any issues with having alcohol in the apartment when one of the roommates was underage. (Actually, I moved in at 21 and was the youngest, but I had been subletting to a 19-year-old student and it was never an issue while she was there.)

We gave ~1 week advance notice of parties and checked with roommates before inviting any guests who would be staying for more than one night. One-night guests were never really a big deal, especially because one of my roommates' girlfriend lived on the other side of the city and she would frequently stay the night and make the trek back in the morning. This was never a problem.

We did split large furniture/household items 3 ways when we moved in; one roommate kept an Excel spreadsheet of household purchases and then divided the total by three and had us each put in our share. At the end of the year, we informally divided the items back up and each roommate could keep or sell what she wanted. For things like cookware and flatware, keep a list of who contributed what. Moving out was hectic enough without any confusion over ownership. In terms of things breaking, I broke a mug and the roommate who owned it refused my request to pay it back, but in general I think if someone values an item and it gets broken, it's reasonable to request to have the person who broke it buy a new one.

We never needed to arrange bathroom use times in advance. The only time I ever had to wait for the bathroom was when someone had a guest; 3 people/bathroom is perfectly doable.

We all like to cook/bake and we each had a weeknight when we'd cook for the apartment, which was a nice way to decrease individual food costs and also promote apartment togetherness, but this is only a good idea if everyone is the cooking type and has similar diets. (I.e., if one person requires things to be vegan/kosher/halal/gluten-free/whatever, this may be an issue.)

Don't be afraid to be confrontational and let people know when they are being too loud/too dirty/whatever. Passive-aggressiveness can poison a roommate situation.

The three of us remain very good friends. It was a great experience. Good luck to you and your roommates!
posted by capricorn at 10:19 AM on September 18, 2012


Dishes. Don't agree to wash the dishes unless you intend to wash them all the time. My fiancé and I agreed we would do the dishes and our roommate has not washed a dish in two years. I thought we were agreeing more to "you cook and we'll wash the dishes after" but it was really she never does dishes or even puts the clean ones away. It gets really annoying when she cooks really messy stuff (that we don't eat) and uses a lot of pots and pans. I would say have the agreement be that everyone tries to do their own dishes or there might be some resentment on the part of the sole dishwasher.

In hindsight we should have revisited the dishwashing and we have other cleanliness issues that make us incompatible roommates but just be aware of assigning sole responsibility for chores.
posted by amapolaroja at 11:04 AM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seconding the: don't agree to wash dishes. Some people are aware of how many dishes are being used. Some people will just cook and leave you two sinks full of dishes to clean--for a one course meal.

I'd also suggest you set rules for overnight guests. Are one night stands cool? How loud are you allowed to be? How late? How many nights can a guest stay over (without contributing to the utilities)?
posted by ethidda at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2012


With bills, they are all in my name and we divide them three ways. I write the rent check and my roommate writes a check for her share. This works out well for us, especially since she doesn't get paid until the 5th of the month which would make the rent always late if she paid.
posted by amapolaroja at 11:17 AM on September 18, 2012


My experiences with roommates suggest that you will be happier if each person is responsible for his/her own food purchases, cooking, and kitchen cleanup. Sharing staples is pretty painless, and cooking together *when you want to* is also easy.
posted by janell at 11:27 AM on September 18, 2012


Regarding groceries: my roommate buys communal snacks, I pay for takeout/fast food. It's an informal arrangement, but it's working well.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:37 AM on September 18, 2012


Yeah, no, dishes for bathroom isn't a fair trade at all depending on how that goes. Everyone does their own dishes and you clean the bathroom on a rota. Or maybe trade one nasty sink of dishes for one bathroom clean.

If you figure out that they're decent with dishes you can maybe offer this, but generally you want to start as independent as possible, get to know each other's habits, and then pool things where it makes sense. Much easier than going back on a bad deal.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:00 PM on September 18, 2012


Automatic dishwashers are not that expensive ($250), and not that hard to install.

If it was me, I'd not forget to add, "no artificial air fresheners." Those things are toxic. See the FDA or Wikipedia info that recommend not using them. Lavender oil, or dried lavender if anything.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:11 PM on September 18, 2012


In general, I think you're over-planning and over-organizing. Most things that aren't bills can be left relatively laissez-faire until there's a problem and you can work together to make things better.

We're going to set up a group grocery "fund,"

In my experience this is something that always sounds like a great idea at the time, but it never works out. This might be different for you, or easier if you guys are all students and will be largely eating through a school meal plan.

What has worked better for me and past roommates has been to share staples like rice, butter, or ketchup, and the person who finishes it off replaces it with a like item (i.e. no finishing off the fancy imported Plugras stuff and replacing with Country Crock). Items that are not obvious staples everyone uses are bought individually and can be shared with permission.

Sometimes going in together can work if you find that you cook meals together a lot, but it should definitely be a play it by ear thing at first.

Cleaning, similar. Dishes? Everyone needs to do their own dishes (again, assuming you guys don't eat together for every meal).

Chore arrangements are good but should be more for tasks that always have to be done, like sweeping the floor and scrubbing the toilet. Also, in my experience this is something that can be relatively laissez-faire until something goes wrong.

We'll compare schedules for morning getting-ready time when we see what we've got to work with (I can brush my teeth at the kitchen sink while someone else showers, for example).

Unless you guys all have 9 AM classes every morning, this is largely not going to be a big deal. I've lived most of my adult life with roommates in situations where we all had to be at work around the same time every day. I have had practically zero issues about morning bathroom scheduling. YMMV, of course.

two people giving cash to the third, who then writes a check to the landlord.

This has been the arrangement almost everywhere I have lived. That said, it depends on the check-writer being responsible enough with money that they're not constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul (e.g. being overdrawn, depositing the others' rent money, and then inevitably being short on rent). It also requires a degree of trust. I've never had a problem, but I've heard of other people giving cash to the check-writer, who then doesn't write the check. And months down the line everyone is getting evicted because the person who was responsible for paying rent didn't actually do it. I don't think that will be a problem for you guys, because two of you already know each other. For the former problem (check writer's cash flow), I've found that it's best if that person has a separate checking account just for dealing with house issues, so that rent paid is rent paid.
posted by Sara C. at 12:17 PM on September 18, 2012


Oh, and regarding stuff. In terms of both buying it and if something gets broken or whatever.

In my experience, it's better not to be married to things, in general. For example a couple apartments ago, I went in with my roommate on a coffee table. When I moved out, it was easy to leave the coffee table behind. I probably could have cut him some kind of deal to "buy him out" or whatever, but meh, it looks nice in his apartment and it's one less thing to move.

Similarly, it's always irritated me when a roommate has gotten bent out of shape about a pot that got food burnt into it or a set of curtains that got shredded by the cat or whatever. It's just an object. Jeez. Obviously it's important to be respectful of other people's stuff, but things happen.

This is best accomplished by buying cheap stuff, so nobody feels like they NEED that couch because they spent a fortune on their share and now they're moving and NO COUCH. This also helps with breaking and damaging situations, because you don't have one person abusing the other person's top-end kitchen equipment.

It's also a case for not filling the place with precious heirlooms. It's cool if your families want to help you furnish this place, but don't accept anything if your mom would cry when it got ruined.
posted by Sara C. at 12:28 PM on September 18, 2012


Sorry to triple post, but I thought of something else I meant to address.

Re underage drinking, this is not an issue unless you live in campus housing, and then I believe there are specific rules about it that you will have to follow.

The cops are not going door to door inventorying fridges and comparing receipts to IDs. Nobody is ever going to know if the bottle of wine on the counter belongs to the 24 year old or the 20 year old, and they're not going to care. Presumably the 20 year old has his own approach to whether he drinks or not, and the rest of you are adults who will respect his wishes.

If you guys are anything like me and people I knew in college, the real problem is going to be the 24 year old roommate being annoyed by the 20 year old roommate's inability to hold his liquor. Especially if the big 21st birthday festivities are on the horizon.
posted by Sara C. at 12:36 PM on September 18, 2012


I agree that you're kind of over-planning. You do not need to have everything worked out down to the last detail. Like Sara C. says, most people are pretty laissez-faire about living with roommates, and the really important things that absolutely must be worked out before you all live together are basically limited to: the finances (how you'll all handle rent and utilities), usage of the common areas, how you'll handle guests, smoking/nonsmoking/drug use, and a basic mutual understanding of chores/expected level of cleanliness. Any written roommate contract you have should cover these.

Working out your bathroom schedules is helpful too: it's rare that there's a conflict, but I find it's best to be up front with each other about "this is about the time I will need the bathroom in the morning/evening, how does that work with your schedule?" If you all have a "scheduled" bathroom time, then there won't be any guesswork involved when someone needs to change the routine, and there's no frustration about making someone run late or whatever.

Also, I agree that you should buy your groceries separately. I frankly think it's a pain in the ass to juggle multiple peoples' food preferences/requirements, and to coordinate who will be getting the groceries when. If there's one thing you should go in on together or have a rotation for, it's household cleaning stuff and toilet paper.

As for the alcohol issue, the legal drinkers should just be clear about not being comfortable purchasing alcohol for the underage roommate(s), if that's an issue. If you're all together, sure, you can share some beer or wine with your underage roommate if no one has a problem with it, but I would just make clear, "I am not your or your underage friends' source for free booze." If you're all drinking, everyone should contribute to the booze fund or otherwise reciprocate.
posted by yasaman at 12:40 PM on September 18, 2012


Oh yeah, our rules on dishes:
-You washed your own dishes, unless it was an apartment dinner night, in which case everyone washed dishes together.
-You washed your dishes in a timely fashion. If you were really pressed for time, it was okay to leave unwashed dishes in the sink but you had to wash them when you got back home.

We also had a dishwasher, and were really laissez-faire about who was responsible for loading/unloading it. Sometimes someone would notice that it needed to be unloaded, and would call everyone else who was home into the kitchen to help them out.

Sometimes there were a lot of dishes in the sink that were not mine but I rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher anyway. Sometimes my roommates extended me the same courtesy.
posted by capricorn at 12:55 PM on September 18, 2012


Write a "renegotiation clause" or something in it for after three months where you can re-examine what house rules work and what don't?

Unless you're cooking and eating communal meals, groceries should be each individual's.

Of my past roommates, we'd dine together more often than not and I'd end up cooking the vast majority of the time. It was a given that they washed up and they'd give me about a third, rounded up, of my grocery bills for food, and they'd chip in with random food, too.

Bathroom detail on a rotating schedule. Written on the house calendar. You can clean it two days early or one day late. If there's a huge mess, the person responsible is responsible for it. If you leave a bunch of clingons in the toilet, spend the 30 seconds with a bleach wipe or a slug of bleach and the scrubber.

Otherwise, sounds like you've thought it through pretty thoroughly. But remember to try to be flexible.
posted by porpoise at 2:32 PM on September 18, 2012


I think you've got it about all covered, but I'd say the biggest thing going forward is remaining flexible and open to renegotiation. It sounds like this is a first roommate experience for at least some of you, and it also sounds like you have a lot of plans! So don't be surprised if some things turn out to work better a different way, and try to enter into things with that spirit.

The two big red flags for me are having one person be responsible for all the dishes - this sounds like a recipe for resentment to me, and with no particular reason. This should be everyone's responsibility - if you made it dirty, you wash it. The second thing is, trying to set things up to be overly involved in each others' lives. Even though you're friends with one and friendly with another roommate, keep in mind that ultimately, you're all going to have different lives and different schedules and different priorities, etc. So I wouldn't try to buy all your food together or stress over what an underage roomie will do with alcohol. If he drinks or not, that's ultimately his decision (assuming he's not stealing your beer!) And please don't police overnight guests. Yes, if someone literally moves into your house, that is a problem (in fact, I did once have a roommate who moved his girlfriend in for six weeks...which ultimately we let it go because there are more important things to stress about). Honestly, the added utilities cost from overnight guests is pretty minimal, and tends to even out over time since typically said housemate will also be staying at the girlfriend's house from time to time. So just let people live and let live with who they date and how they arrange their dating life.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:11 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am living in a very similar situation at the moment, and have in the past. I'll say that joint groceries have never worked for me...unless you run on very similar schedules, eat at home most nights, and have very similar tastes, it very easily leads to conflict. You'll be surprised as to how different people's ideas of a reasonable (and reasonably priced) diet can be.

See if your bank offers an account set up for people sharing a house - we have one of these where we put in a set amount every week for bills and things we share the cost of (toilet paper, cleaning products, salt and pepper, things like that). We all have access to it through our debit cards and online banking so we can see what is going in and out of it, and when you're at the grocery store you can put toilet paper or whatever on it without having to chase everybody else up for the money later. I find this system works better than one person being in charge of the bills and having to chase everybody up for a third of every bill when it comes, it is nice just having the money ready and not having to nag anybody.

I agree with not sharing the costs of big items - either divide them up and have a different people be responsible for each one, or see if you can lease any of the more expensive appliances etc.

My cardinal rule of sharing a living space with people is: if you're too awkward to tell somebody that you're unhappy with something they do around the house, you have to let it go completely. In my situation now I am too awkward to tell one of our more busy housemates that I don't think she pulls her weight in regards to housework, but I have decided to just let her get away with it. You can't hold on to stuff and try and send passive aggressive cryptic messages because that will fuck up your living situation so fast.
posted by kwes at 1:16 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, what kwes said about "passive agressive cryptic messages". If you find yourself putting up cryptic signs, things are not good. That is not a workable approach to a living situation. You need a baseline level of open communication channels and/or flexibility.

That said, it sounds like you guys are doing well so far on that stuff. But if one day you find yourself angrily writing up a sign about toilet paper and hanging it in the bathroom, rather than reminding your roommates to replace the roll, you're officially in a downward spiral.
posted by Sara C. at 5:54 AM on September 19, 2012


I appreciate the answers so far. I do tend to over-plan things, so drawing my attention to that was helpful.

Regarding the dishes: I loathe cleaning bathrooms. I mean, if immediately after I used it the toilet needs to be cleaned, I'll clean it, but in general I absolutely hate cleaning anything in that room that doesn't belong in the medecine cabinet. But now that I've read some comments on dishes, I think I might try to trade James' dishes rotation with my bathroom rotation - or if we end up doing the "clean your own dishes, period" option I'll trade something else with him, bearing in mind the advice posted above. Really, I can't overstate how much I hate cleaning the bathroom, and am willing to trade something that takes twice the time in exchange for not having to deal with that.

Good points regarding groceries. I'll definitely be rethinking the original concept I had and trying to simplify things.
posted by Urban Winter at 9:00 AM on September 19, 2012


Everyone has to do their own dishes. It's really non-negotiable. Your living situation will dissolve into a pit of resentment in the first month if you assign "dishes" as part of a chore rotation rather than as an individual "clean up after yourself" task.

Having a tradeoff where you hate Task A and trade it for Task B which you don't mind as much is a good approach, but just don't make it dishes. Don't make dishes a thing that can be traded in that way.
posted by Sara C. at 9:16 AM on September 19, 2012


Make sure that everyone cleans their dishes after a set period of time. Same goes for breakfast utensils. Everyone who spoke up about dishes is right, especially since a flatmate might use more dishes than you would and you will grow to resent them for that if you are the only person doing the dishes.
posted by ersatz at 1:24 PM on September 19, 2012


In my experience, your split of "These are the things everyone eats, which everyone pays for", and "These are personal things, which the person in question pays for" generally works best. That way it's just "Hey, we need more bread!" "Toss it on the grocery list." "I got bread!" and then one of us sticks it as an entry into a Google Docs spreadsheet, and at the end of the month it gets balanced out.

On the other hand though, this does require a certain amount of trust in your roommates and having the finances & attitude to not worry about how many slices of bread you ate (to borrow an example).

Similarly (though this was tested more in "two roommates plus sometimes a regular girlfriend" circumstances), dishes need to be kept up on, definitely. We went with "You wash stuff you use for yourself or guests of yours. If it's a communal meal (which most of ours were), the person who cooks doesn't do the bulk of the dishes. (Though of course you'd wash as you go where possible, but that's just a 'basic human decency' thing than anything concrete)"

Division of labor is also a useful thing, but something which seems to settle out better when done more organically. "Hey, it's pretty easy for me to take out the trash and recycling when I head out for class." "I like keeping things vacuumed more often than you would otherwise do." "Cool. I'll take care of trash, you take care of vacuuming." ((However, this did fail in my instance in question as both of us had flexible standards for bathroom care.))

Generally, you should have as many rules as you need. For some people, that's very few; for some people, there needs to be more.

And lastly, I want to emphasize things like Google Docs. It's really handy to just have a shared calendar to be able to glance at and know that John has an early morning class on Wednesdays, or Jack goes out on Thursdays with his coworkers, so he gets back late, or that Jim is heading out of town on Saturday, and so won't be able to take care of the cat.
It's also handy to be able to glance at and get a sense of bills, groceries, and other costs. "This month's house bill comes out to $xxx. Divide by n, and here we go!"
posted by CrystalDave at 2:13 PM on September 20, 2012


« Older Please choose a family cell pl...   |  Can you suggest a system that ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post