What’s the biggest problem housemates have? According to a survey of 2000 people, 76% cited cleanliness and neatness as a major issue. The second ranking problem, 46%, taking food or drink without permission. More than half of those surveyed said they lost their friend or had a really strained relationship as a result of living together.
Reading between the lines, it looks as if the survey respondents were university students. This makes sense. Living on one’s own for the first time is a journey of discovery, the discovery of who you really are when not within the family. One part of this discovery is learning that if you don’t do it, no one else will. There is a whole class of activity that is just maintenance. Cleaning, shopping, paying bills – these are just the tasks of life. And for many young adults it is a shock to discover that if they don’t go shopping, there is no food in the fridge. If they don’t do their laundry, there are no clean clothes to wear. If they don’t wash the dishes, they stay in the sink. Some young adults will take on these tasks with delight, since they are part of their new independence. Others will not. And there lies the rub for housemates.
Before deciding to live together, talk about how you will manage cleaning and food. There are many resources on this site blog about these issues. A place to start is with the “Interview Checklist.” It’s only 13 items long and will give you some perspective on the important parts of living in shared housing. You might ask a potential housemate to take the checklist. Then you can compare your answers and see how compatible you are.
There are other blog postings about things to discuss. Here are a few:
Select your housemate based on compatibility around how you will share the home rather than your friendship. It’s really no fun to be upset with a friend over the maintenance issues of life. And it’s a good way to lose a friend, as the survey shows.