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Take this word from the not so wise, housemate fights are as common as, well something SUPER common. You can’t live with a friend, partner or former stranger for an extended period of time without ticking someone off. Sooner or later. So we put together a list of items that housemates fight about and our top tips on how to tackle them.
Not to be all post spoiler on you or anything, but most of them come down to having a good old chat about them. It’s not a glamorous response to the problem but it’s the one that works. So take a read and tell us what you think. Did we miss any? You old folks out there, have you had these arguements before? Got any tips? Share them! We’d love to hear.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the TV or you and your special visitor. If you are sharing a space, there is no way to avoid this one forever. You will argue about volume. But to do your best to avoid it, communicate early that it’s too loud and then go from there IF it escalates.
I had a roommate once who chewed with her mouth open. It was a constant chomp of annoyance. I can still remember the look of surprise on her face when I shouted at her like a nut case after it built up so big in my mind I thought I would explode. Address it early and address it calmly. Much more effective. Otherwise, noise cancelling headphones are a god-send.
As a woman, the majority of my experience with having my stuff ruined by roommates is related to clothes. But maybe it’s a CD or DVD? Whatever it is if it’s already ruined then try to forgive quickly. If you’re the guilty party, ask if it can be repaired or replaced and be prepared to foot the bill. Consider this option even if it was your guest or an accident. The offer can go a long way to resolving the issue. If you’re not responsible then you need to have that conversation calmly and quickly.
One place usually means one common room style tv. So what happens if your Kardashian marathon is on tv at the same time as the Sons of Anarchy finale?! Fighting it out will probably ensue. Some roommates get around this by having their own tv or live streaming on laptops. This works if people can compromise the main tv now and then. And once I lived in a house that had a tv calendar of sorts. Essential viewing went on the chart, so it came first. Lame. So lame. But it worked.
Sometimes the sheer volume of time you spend with your roommate will add up to them pushing your buttons for no reason. And the hilarious drunken stumble home you were part of the week before is rude all of a sudden. It could just be that being in a small space is sending you nuts, so take some time out, go and visit some friends, go home for the weekend, and just get out for a bit. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that.
If you get back and your roommate is STILL a big fat jerk, then time to tackle it head on and set some ground rules. Consider the things you just cannot let go and start there. Try not to tackle them all at once in a barrage of things you hate about them. It turns out, they’ll probably have a list about you too.
I lived in a house with all women once. There were four rooms and four ladies enjoying full lives in them. The house was already full to the brim with people visiting, crashing and staying on the couch, but what happens if someone wants to make that permanent? Well, if you’re ok with that, your landlord is ok with that great. If not, just make that clear. You love when they visit, but they can’t stay here. And yes 5 days a week counts as staying here.
More often than not there is some sort of discrepancy over how clean a kitchen needs to be before it is clean. Or what constitutes a clean bathroom. Housemate fights can kick off over the smallest things and escalate. Maybe you didn’t realise your housemate HATES dishes left on the sink overnight. But you’re from a family that’s a little more of the let them linger variety.
The only way to resolve this type of housemate fight is to decide on who does what and when. Set out a plan for when things need to be done and try to stick to it. Had dinner and want to kick back on the couch? Well maybe household harmony revolves around cleaning up the kitchen first? So do it then. Promise that you’ll do them before bed, well make sure you do. It’s a back and forward exchange that will work if everyone chills out a bit.
Guaranteed during your time house sharing there will be at least on argument over who owns something. Maybe you shared the purchase, maybe things are a little communal until someone has to leave the house, whatever the reason you will fight to the death swearing that the item is yours. Then sometimes you’ll find it in your car… But that’s another story.
Short of putting your name on EVERYTHING (and who doesn’t love label maker) there is no way you can avoid this housemate fight. SOOO0 my hot tip is to start the fight slowly and escalate it as you need to. And get a Sharpie marker and put your name on everything. Think Bart Simpson and that piece of floor he claimed. It’s literally the only way.
I included dishes in the clean up your mess section but this one really does need a section of its own. Dishes, dirty ones specifically, are the bane of the share house existence. There’s always someone who manages to dodge the dishes, someone who keeps half of them in their room and someone else who eats at weird times to everyone else and just leaves their plates where they ate. Sigh.
When it comes to sorting out the dishes issues there are some snappy signs you can make OR you can just make a house rule, wash as you go if outside meal times and have a general morning or night unstack and stack rule. And what do you do if that certain person still doesn’t pull their weight? I like the idea of piling all their dirty dishes in wardrobe or on their bed until they get the message loud and clear. No, I’m kidding, kick them out, it’s a faster resolution. Haha.
Food. Ahhh glorious food. Always a problem in a share house. Someone bought this just for them and now so-and-so has eaten it. Cue dramatic yelling and lots of pointed fingers. Food fights are the worst. Seriously you are forever changed when you see a grown man cry over his last piece of steak being gone when he wanted it.
We resolved this by each of us having a small bar fridge in our room for non-communal foods bought outside the household groceries. It works. Out of sight, out of mind and easier to determine what someone treats as personal and what they are willing to share. If that’s not going to work for you, get the Sharpie out again and write on the packaging.
How to share is one of those things they start teaching you young. If you have siblings it happens from day one, if not then in child care, or school… But the housemate relationship can REALLY challenge even the best sharer and sooner or later they’ll CRACK. Even the best sharer doesn’t always want to share. Trust me, I’ve lived with some of the most generous people ever.
Ways to avoid and resolve any conflict around ‘your stuff’ is to make it clear that permission must be sought EVERY time an item is borrowed or used. The problem with housemates is that things get casual so after you ask a billion times to borrow that appliance, you start to assume it’s ok. Assuming is the problem. Acknowledge that it’s not yours by asking every time unless told to stop asking.
Return the item to the original spot and in original condition, or ask that this happen. There’s nothing worse than having to go hunting for your hair dryer in the morning after it was borrowed the night before. It’s annoying. Return the item, easy. Expect LESS housemate fights just by following that one rule.
If something is off-limits, you have to make it known. A friend of mine will share any of her cosmetics with you, just ask, no problem. BUT she has this one bottle of liquid gold type hair oil that if you touch she will LOSE her mind. In those cases, it’s best to be clear what items are off-limits and keep them out of communal areas.
Share the most common argument in your house, was it listed here?
Melissa is the Leave Home Blog Boss. She is living the high life in her hometown, didn’t finish her marketing degree & drinks too much on a Thursday night. Blogging since 2009, Melissa decided to put everything she knows into making The Leave Home Blog a light & easy how-to guide for being a grown up.