Money can be a touchy subject even amongst the closest of friends. It’s because it’s an indicator of status, job and social positioning that it can become the elephant in the room when there is a clear disparity. Unfortunately, rent and bills have to be paid, and when you decide to share a house, you enter into an agreement to be in a position to pay the same amount, regardless. For example, property in London can vary hugely in price because there are so many different boroughs within it, with varying average monthly incomes; make sure you’re aware of this. This is when things like borrowing money can crop up, which is a dangerous road to go down. If you feel like you won’t be able to afford the same property that your friend has their eye on, tell them before you move in properly. It’s easier than struggling later on, and forcing them to have to find a new housemate or make up your rent with their own funds. Have a reminder set each month to hand over money for rent or bills, or set up a direct debit which is easier and will do this automatically. That way you won’t forget and there is no need for them to bring it up (this puts them in an awkward position). Also do this subtly with whoever’s account money may go out of in bulk rather than in front of others or the whole house.
2. Clean Up
Cleaning up after yourself is absolutely necessary. You don’t want to be the messy one in a group, and everyone is entitled to living in a clean home. Do dishes once you’ve eaten; if you have to leave the house or you can’t for some other reason, tell them that you’ll do them later when you get in so it shows you know they’re there. Don’t assume they’ll do them for you. If it’s a food that is notably smelly, like a takeaway, always make an effort to do it straight away (and take any bins out which might have leftover food). If you really have to leave your dishes for later, keep them out of the way so everyone else can do their own washing-up without your stuff getting in the way. If your housemate has left a few things to wash, do them yourself as a nice sentiment but don’t let it become a regular occurrence; doing it here and then will make them aware that they’ve left washing to be done, and they’ll be more likely to do it themselves in the future.
3. Having Guests Over
Always make sure it’s OK with your housemates that you have guests over. They might already have made plans to have people over themselves and there can be an issue of space. It is after all your home as well so you should be allowed to have friends come over, but it’s just courtesy with it being their home too. If you do have guests over, don’t hog the communal living spaces like the living room or kitchen; use your bedroom as well. If you do need use of the communal space, they can make alternative plans well in advance if you let them know.
4. Surprise Your Housemates
Every now and then, show your housemates that they are important and valued; not just the people you live with. Cook dinner unexpectedly for yourselves, or if you know they’ll be getting home later than normal one evening. Buy a box of doughnuts or something that you can all enjoy together as a house. It doesn’t have to be something expensive which will make them feel like they have to do something just as big in return. Even taking the initiative and fixing something small which has been annoying you all, like a flickering bulb will do. With any kind of maintenance, make sure you know what you’re doing before you start or you might make the situation worse.
Paul is writing on behalf of a property portal, who list properties of estate agents in London and across the UK, in one place.