Living in a house-share? Here are some tips on how to survive it

Do you love or loathe living in a house-share?

Shared accommodation is no longer something only students endure for a few years. As the cost of getting on the housing ladder continues to soar it’s a popular choice of living for all ages, particularly those in larger cities where the cost of living is typically higher.

Living with people who have different lifestyles can take some getting used to, so it’s important to take the advice and help available to make the experience as stress-free as possible.

Related: 14 horrors of shared housing

'With sky-high rents, and fewer first-time-buyers (FTBs) entering the market, a large proportion of people now live in shared accommodation for longer than they would have done 15 years ago. Whether you are living with best friends or complete strangers, there are plenty of hurdles to face in a house-share so we have outlined the following tips which should help the process to run smoothly,' says Sally Lawson, President, ARLA Propertymark.

Keep it tidy

cleaning accessories with dustbin and white cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Scott)

We all have different ideas of what ‘clean’ means, and it’s best to share with people who have similar standards to you, but if this isn’t possible, try to compromise. You should set a few ground rules in the house at the start of your tenancy agreement, such as keeping communal areas clean and tidy. Everyone must agree to clear up after themselves, particularly in the kitchen, and dirty pots should never be left to fester. If necessary, draw up a cleaning rota to ensure everyone does their fair share of the workload, or agree to split the cost of a weekly or fortnightly cleaner.

Get your house bills in order

mail basket with colourful letters and flower vase

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

When you move in, agree how bills will be paid and split between everyone in the house, as this is a common cause of arguments. Set up bank transfers to cover the monthly outgoings which are your responsibility, and keep a record of what’s been agreed when it comes to making payments. Alternatively, download an app that allows you all to access and track expenses by logging in from your phone.

Stay secure

Keep your belongings in your room and be clever with storage, so your personal items don’t spill into the communal spaces. Security can be an issue too with people coming in and out of your home that you don’t know, so it’s worth having some lockable storage in your room for high value items. Be vigilant and as a house agree to always lock your doors and windows to prevent break-ins. If you’ve got a house alarm, use it!Consider sharing the essentials

Consider sharing the essentials

grey cupboard for storing veggies and essential items

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Scarboro)

 It’s a good idea to band together with your housemates and put money towards kitchen basics such as pots and pans, condiments, spices, and dairy products to save you all over-buying. Each month, you can agree what needs to be replaced and all put money in a pot to make sure those essentials are restored going forward.

Related: The ultimate house viewing checklist

Respect others

Respect your housemate’s privacy; don’t go into their rooms when they’re not there and always knock first if the door is shut. Keep the noise down if you are inviting friends back or coming in late at night and try and give some warning if you have any visitors. Being respectful in shared accommodation goes a long way towards preventing conflicts.

Communication is key

wooden writing table with colourful notebooks and sticky notes

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Have an established method of communication to discuss specific house matters, for example a Facebook or WhatsApp group. If you have an issue to raise however, the best thing to do would be to communicate face-to-face, so that it can get resolved quickly. If you haven’t yet developed a social relationship with your housemates, a simple “please and thank you” and polite conversation can establish a comfortable atmosphere for everyone.

Choose your housemates carefully

If you have the luxury of getting to choose your housemates, think carefully before you agree to move in with someone and consider whether you could potentially clash on anything like smoking, obsessive tidiness or having conflicting work schedules. Be honest about your own lifestyle and needs when talking to prospective flatmates as it will be a much more enjoyable experience living with people you get on with.

Do you love or loathe living in a house-share?

Deputy Editor

Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home.