It seemed like a good idea at the time. Four friends who have known each other since freshman year decide to share an apartment or house or to all take rooms in a local rooming house. They already know they like to hang out together. They already like each other’s friends. They already have weathered some storms in their relationships. What could possibly go wrong?
Being friends and being housemates are two entirely different things. If you are stressed or upset about what a friend does when you live separately, you can retreat to your own space and decide whether to let it go or deal. When you live in the same 1000 square feet (or less), it’s another story. It’s deal or let the relationship start to fall apart.
The key to living together successfully is spending time talking about assumptions and ground rules before you move in and revisiting them on a regular basis. The people who get into the most trouble are those who somehow assume that just because they are friends, they share the same taste in music, the same ability to handle money, the same tolerance for noise, the same standards for neatness, and the same ideas about who should do what. It rarely works out that way. Yes, it may seem silly to formally meet about things you think are just common sense. Yes, there will be people who don’t want to be bothered with a lengthy discussion of who will clean the bathroom and whether dishes get left in the sink to soak or get done right away. But it’s those seemingly little things that can cause major tension.
Here are the top 5 complaints that make roommates start to seriously consider murder:
Sharing a household means sharing bills. The rent and utility bills have to be paid and paid on time. Your landlord and the electric company don’t have a sense of humor or an ounce of compassion for those who don’t.
It’s unfair to ask housemates to front your share because you spent your rent money at the bar or on a pair of shoes. It feels terrible to be the “responsible one” in a group and to be always hounding the others to cough up the cash. Keep it clean. Create a system for getting all the money together and for paying each bill so no one is left feeling guilty or exploited.