Renting rules: How to create household harmony
Living with roomies can be a challenge. After all, everyone has their own idea of what counts as a “clean kitchen” or “loud music”. But, with bit of open communication and, yes, some renting rules, you can make sure your house is a haven that you all enjoy.
Manage those bills, bills, bills
Talking money matters can be a little awkward. But, if you’re living with people, you can’t really avoid conversations about stuff like splitting utility bills, covering the internet, and chipping in for shared household supplies.
A great way to avoid sending a passive aggressive “someone owes me $50” text in the housemate group chat is using a shared expenses app (you should be able to find one that suits you by searching the Google or Apple app store). Once you’ve all downloaded the app, all you have to do is put any bills or costs in there, and it’ll calculate how much each person owes. Some apps also remind people if they have an outstanding bill, so there’s be no need to do the awkward chasing.
Remember cleanliness is next to good housemate-liness
Ever had the feeling you’re the only one who takes out the rubbish? It’s important that everyone pulls their weight when it comes to cleaning and chores, lest resentment grow faster than that mould in the bathroom.
Yes, a chore roster might feel like you’re 10 years old and earning gold stars in exchange for lollies, but, well, some things just work. You don’t have to be too strict with it if you feel like your housemates are on top of cleaning, but it can help even the playing field.
Be our guest! … Sometimes
A lot of people enjoy having a social household, where friends visit for dinner parties and mates crash. It’s one of the fun, communal things about living in a shared house. That being said, it’s not really fair if one housemate is using your sofa like an Airbnb side hustle.
You might not be able to put in hard and fast rules about this one, but you can keep the dialogue open. That conversation should start really early on; as in, when you first move in or even before you do. Have a chat to get on the same page about how frequently it’s appropriate to have visitors over. Down the line, if you think your roomie is taking liberties with guests, you can refer back to that conversation and re-open the dialogue.
Consider renters insurance
Making sure your possessions are covered by insurance can be great for peace of mind. And, if you can take out a policy which lists all of your housemates, it can even be a bit more affordable.
Before you open up a policy, be sure to take stock of each person’s belongings, and whether anyone has especially expensive stuff. If they do, you can list the priciest stuff as ‘specified contents’ to ensure it’s covered, and have that housemate pay the premium difference.
AAMI’s free online contents calculator helps to work out how much your total sum insured should be.
Decide whether to share food, glorious food
While it’s usually easier for each housemate to have their own food, some households are cool with sharing certain items. If you want to keep the pantry stocked with shared staples, such as salt, pepper, cooking oil and butter, you can always add them to your shared expenses tracking app.
In terms of the food you do keep for yourself, having designated spots in the pantry and fridge can eliminate anyone ‘accidentally’ eating that chocolate you’ve been saving. If you’re really worried, you can label your food or the container it’s in – that way, no one should be confused about who it belongs to.
Start some fun household traditions!
Creating harmony in a shared household shouldn’t just be about rules. Be sure to get some fun household traditions, too, so you can enjoy living with your roommates. That might be making weekly dinners with rotating chef duties, going on weekend coffee and market adventures, or even creating a team for your local’s trivia night.
Having fun together makes the awkward (but necessary) ‘less fun’ conversations about chores, noise, and money a lot easier.
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