I hate living alone. I really do. I had to live alone while I was in Japan (JET give you your own apartment) and I was so lonely I got a cat. I couldn’t wait to come to Germany and have the chance to live with people again. (For help on how to find a place to live in Germany, check out my post HERE).
But of course, it’s often very hard to find a good match of personalities to make the shared living situation work. I lived unhappily with two different girls before I found my current, wonderful, shared flat. But I think it takes a lot of practice and experience to be able to get a peaceful shared living experience. Here is a list of things I think people should do to live happily with other people.
1. Accept that you live with other people. There are many good things about living in a shared flat/house, but there are obviously going to be negatives too. You can’t really expect your flatmates not to have sex just because you’re within hearing range of them, and you can’t expect them to not pop into the shower the second you decide to get out of bed just because they can’t read your mind. Accept that things cannot always be exactly how you like it.
2. Be open with what you’re ok and not ok with. Sometimes my flatmates are a little too loud for me, but I always come clean and tell them to keep it down because it’s 1am or 6am. At the same time, I know I leave my stuff around the apartment all the time and I accept that they may call me up on that sometimes too. If you’re not happy about something, sitting and feeling crap doesn’t help anyone. You have to just mention it to them then POOF, problem solved!
2a. If you’re going to talk about things you’re not happy with, do them as they happen – don’t pile up all the things and just get pissed and offload all the reasons why you’re angry at them in one go. This happened to a friend of mine here, and while I’m sure it must have been annoying to live with someone who uses up all the hot water and washes their clothes too much and does this and that, she didn’t deserve for all these things to be thrown at her at the same time. Short comments on why you’re not happy with someone is a much better way of dealing with things.
3. Don’t be a dickhead. When I was in my first year of uni, I lived with 5 other people in probably my worst experience of shared accommodation I’ve had to date. I guess that’s to be expected from people who have only just left home. But they’d do things like not wash their plates for ages and then use my plates and not wash them either. And there was that time mum bought me a jar of lemon curd (tastes like heaven in your mouth. Go buy some if you don’t know what it is) for my birthday and while I was back home for a week my flatmates helped themselves to it. All of it. It’s a little on the pricier side and not something I could have afforded as a student so it was a real blow for me.
4. Get a cleaner. With my last flatmate my main problem was that she wasn’t really as clean as I am; while my bedroom can be pretty disgusting, I do keep the bathroom and kitchen clean. It got to the point where I made little patronising charts to show that it’s her turn to take the bins out, or to clean the toilet, and you know when it comes to making passive aggressive notes, your shared living relationship has gone to the bad place.
Around this time, I was complaining about this to a friend who told me probably the best advice I’ve ever had for shared living – get a cleaner. We have a cleaner in our flat now, and while we do sometimes have to poke people into being cleaner throughout the week, having someone just come and take the bins, clean the toilet etc just makes things easier.
5. Do things together. Although I am really bad at this, since I’m always at yoga, or at German class or doing something else, it’s important to do things together so you can be friends as well. My flatmates and I go to see improv theatre together, and they come to see me in my comedy shows, and there was that one time they forced me away from watching The White Queen to play frisbee. I was not happy. But it’s important.
I also asked my friends on Facebook (no one on Twitter replied) for advice for sharing a home with people. Here is the best of what they said -
“Use an epilator on them”
“Never say…..oh that’s ok, or I really don’t mind ….. if you don’t mean it!!! From day one set a precedent that suits you!!! Otherwise they’ll walk all over you!!!”
“Stock some beer. Even more than patience.”
“the kitchen area is ur biggest worry really. if u state those cupboards are theirs, etc, people have an idea that u dont share food. there’s a way of doing it, so u dont look like an arse on first impressions. u could say suggest a pot to buy the basics eg binbags, bread, teabags n ask if they wanna do that? if not, then i doubt they’ll borrow any of stuff. also, suggest a cleaning rota re bathroom. e.g. u both take it in turns once a wk.. this way u r being completely fair n reasonable n i’d expect that if i lived with someone. just basic ground rules at the beginning”
“I’m going to be so typical Japanese in this answer but when I’ve lived with blood type A person, I ended up having great time because I’m also an A and we’re both clean, organized and “kuki yomeru” [able to read the situation - Charlotte] type. Of course 4 different blood types does not determine persons characteristics but I have hit jackpot every time with an A type as it’s easier for me to understand them as I too am one.”
“Come home in the evenings, stomp into the kitchen and start sharpening some knives. They will be too afraid to defy you.”
Ok, maybe some of those were more helpful than others…
These days it’s hard to get the money together to get your own place and I find more people are living with others. Hopefully this post has helped people out there who are going into a shared living situation!