Have you lived in a flatshare before? I did - for almost ten years. And in that time, I had absolutely TONS of flatmates of different ages, from different cultures and, on one occasion, even an older Chinese male student! The flat I lived in had six bedrooms so as you can imagine over that time there were tons of people moving in, then moving back out . . . and on one occasion moving back in again, so I have a lot of experience of living with other people. I used to talk about it a lot on here - well, more often than not, I would be ranting about it, if I'm honest.
I thought, however, that I might put my experience to good use with a little blog post about how to be a good flatmate! You are welcome. ;-)
1) BE KIND AND FRIENDLY
This one is really important. I'm not saying you have to be best pals with your flatmates (unless your flatmate actually is your best pal) but it doesn't do any harm to be nice, make conversation and get to know them if they're a stranger. At one point, for example, a couple of my friends moved into the flatshare, but we still went out of our way to include the other girls staying there if they wanted to join us for a drink or a meal. Years later, when my friends had been replaced with some girls I didn't know too well who were about ten years younger than me, they went out of their way to invite me to join them for a vegetarian roast and some wine. Sometimes, for me, it could be really difficult to make conversation with someone who I shared a roof with but didn't know too well and, to be fair, there were a couple of times I deliberately waited until no one was in the hallway before sneaking out because I could not face having to make conversation, but generally it's good to be on great terms with the people you are sharing space with so, if you can, make sure you do! Just don't, like, watch them sleep or anything crazy like that though...
2) DO YOUR DISHES
Now, this is one of my pet peeves. If you're living yourself, feel free to not do your dishes regularly. I certainly abide by that rule now I don't have flatmates, that's for sure. But when you're living with other people and sharing communal spaces, you need to clean up after yourself. I'm not saying you should be washing your pot before you actually eat your dinner, but don't leave dirty dishes lying around two days after you used them! I actually had one situation where a flatmate was leaving the country for a month and left her dirty dishes lying in the kitchen. It is really not cool and it's a known fact that other people's dirty dishes are always much grosser than your own. True story . . .
3) DON'T EAT OTHER PEOPLE'S FOOD WITHOUT ASKING
This really really really should go without saying, but it happens. When I'd not been in the flatshare very long back in the olden days, I had a packet of poppadoms in my food cupboard (we all had our own food cupboards). I had two poppadoms left in the box, and one day when I went into the cupboard to get something, I noticed that the box was empty. Someone had not only eaten the poppadoms without asking, they hadn't even disposed of the rubbish they had generated. Now, that's just rude. Oh, and that doesn't just apply to food . . . someone's boyfriend once "thoughtfully" ran them a bath but decided to use my nice bubble bath to do so. I was really not happy.
4) IF YOU WANT TO ADD SOMETHING TO A COMMUNAL AREA, PERHAPS CONSULT YOUR FLATMATES FIRST
Now, the reason I've added this to the list is because of one very specific incident that happened during my time in the flatshare. One of the girls decided to leave some sort of shoe storage facility out in the hallway one day, and kept all of her shoes (and her boyfriend's shoes, when he was there, which he was frequently) there. She had put it in a really awkward bit of the hallway, and she never asked anyone else if it was okay. Yeah, cos we all want a whiff of someone else's shoes. I'm sure, however, if you wanted to add something lovely like a giant TV to a communal area, no one would complain . . . unless they're anti-TV that is! ;-)
5) TAKE OUT THE RUBBISH SOMETIMES
If you're putting rubbish in the bin, you really should be taking your turn to take it outside. The amount of times I ended up having to do this myself was ridiculous, especially when I knew that I had hardly put anything in it. Occasionally people would get it as far as the doors and leave it between the door and the storm door too - if you're going to get it that far can you not just take it all the way to the bin?
6) TRY TO KEEP THE NOISE DOWN
Be a bit thoughtful around noise levels. It's one thing playing some music or having some friends around on a weekend night, but take into consideration the hours your flatmates keep too - maybe you work full time and they're a student or vice versa and they might be sleeping at different times from you. I used to have a flatmate who would have massively loud phone conversations at 6am on a Sunday morning (no idea who was on the other end) and she was right through the wall from me so it was very disruptive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the phone police and if you want to phone someone at 6am on a Sunday morning, feel free, just try to lower the volume a bit?
7) BUY TOILET PAPER
The amount of times I would buy loo roll only to discover there wasn't any when I needed it was ridiculous. At one point we started a toilet roll fund and asked everyone to contribute so that we could buy communal roll for all. That didn't last long. At other times I ended up keeping toilet paper in my room and taking it with me when I needed the loo. This wasn't very practical because I didn't always remember! So the moral of the story is, buy toilet roll. Whether you leave it in the bathroom and let other people use it (and hopefully they'll take a turn at buying it too) or you squirrel it away in your room is up to you, but make sure you buy it!
8) PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH AND DON'T BE A HYPOCRITE
If you follow all the above rules, in my view you're going to be a pretty good flatmate. Don't slag other people off for not doing these things if you're not doing them yourself though. A notable example of this from my experience was a flatmate who actually agreed with me and another flatmate when we were moaning about the mess someone had left the kitchen in. It was more than 10 years ago now so I can't remember the exact words but it was along the lines of "Oh I know, it's ridiculous the mess they leave the place in, I always forget to tidy up after myself too but I agree it's ridiculous." Er - so surely she was basically saying she was in part responsible for the mess?!?
Have you ever shared a flat? Do you have any rules to add?