An entire book and website devoted to sharing housing may make the subject seem a little overwhelming.
Once you choose a suitable home-mate or mates, however, the guidelines for a harmonious household are very simple. Chapter 12, “Guidelines for Happy Households,” is short, to-the-point, and outlines a mere five guidelines:
- The Golden Rule – also known as “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Hopefully we are all familiar with this one! I remember learning it when I was in elementary school.
- Do it While it is Easy – if you have a problem, speak up! Sooner rather than later.
- Your Room is Your Own – your private space to use however you wish.
- The “incest” taboo – it’s best to maintain a platonic relationship with your home-mates.
- Don’t Overdo the Rules – a house should feel relaxed and homey, not strict.
The simplicity and practicality of the Sharing Housing guidelines got me thinking about maxims like “easy come, easy go,” “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” or “too many cooks in the kitchen.” These well-known phrases are so often repeated that they could be considered cliche. But, I also know that the more life experience I gain, the more I realize how true and applicable to life they are.
I thought of several more adages which, while applicable to life in general, could especially be applied to shared housing.
Just like we don’t want to overdo the rules, nor do I wish to overdo the sayings. The five sharing housing guidelines are perfect as they are. This was just a fun thought experiment for me which may provide some ‘food-for-thought’ for readers.
“Use it or lose it”
Is your house full of years and years’ worth of accumulated possessions? The transition from living alone to living with others provides motivation to clean house, inventory belongings and get rid of what is no longer useful or necessary. All in order to make room for new home-mates and their belongings.
“Choose your battles wisely”
For me personally this is a big one, when it comes to living with others. Shared spaces can present small bothers. Maybe you like to neatly fold the kitchen dish towel and hang it in the exact middle of the oven handle, while your home-mate hangs it any-which-way. Or maybe they occasionally leave a gob of toothpaste in the bathroom sink, or forget to neatly rearrange and fluff the couch pillows after lounging there to read a book.
Maybe your home-mate is heavy-footed. This was the case with one of my past roommates. Some nights I sat downstairs eating dinner and was startled by the thunderous sound of Mike bolting up the staircase and moving around in his bedroom and the upstairs hallway.
Sure, I could have asked Mike to try and walk a bit more softly. But he never stomped around in the middle of the night, and I don’t even recall noticing it on a daily basis–just every so often. It was a minor annoyance that I could live with, and therefore never mentioned.
Letting small things go is an acceptance and acknowledgement of the fact that, as much as I strive to be conscientious, I likely have habits that my living mates could, at times, find annoying or bothersome.
For instance, I love hot tea. My favorite kitchen appliance is the automatic-shut-off kettle that can boil water in 90 seconds. I run it several times a day, especially during the winter. It makes a TON of noise, during those 90 seconds. You have to raise your voice to talk over the din of it. I can’t imagine any of my living mates enjoy listening to the kettle, but none of them ever complain.
Another former roommate of mine, Kara (who was, like me, a longtime homesharer) had a good way of putting it: “every time a roommate does something that bothers me just a little bit, I remind myself, y’know, look at your own behavior!”
A ‘battle worth fighting’ is any issue that really, truly gets under your skin and causes you stress on a daily basis. Any safety issue, like a home-mate who forgets to lock the door or leaves the stove on, is also a worthy battle. Bring these things up with your home-mates right away, so that you can come to a solution. (In other words, do it while it is easy.)
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”
We are all human. The house does not have to be spotless 100% of the time. Nor will any of us ever be the “perfect” home-mate.
“Just do it”
and by that I mean, your dishes!
“Forgive and forget”
Truly compatible home-mates should rarely have a major conflict or disagreement. But living with other people may sometimes present differences of opinion. If there is ever a disconnect, it is quickly resolved. Everyone moves on.
“Better late than never”
If you’re just beginning the home sharing journey after having lived alone for many years, or even your entire life, there is no time like the present to find suitable people with whom to share your home. Together you can create an atmosphere–whether cozy, functional, peaceful, lively, or some combination–that you love.
Are there any short, catchy phrases (besides the five Sharing Housing guidelines) that you and/or your home-mates often use? Let us know in the comments below!
And here’s another post you’ll find interesting about how to maintain good behavior and communication between home-mates: We Need To Talk.