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Top tips for establishing a harmonious relationship with your housemates

February 11, 2018
living with housemates

Here’s how to co-exist with housemates without wanting to strangle them.


So you’re moving out of your parents’ home for the first time, and you’re super excited to become more independent and start Adulting for real. In this article, we bring you a few tips on how to establish a harmonious relationship with your housemates, and minimise conflict!

#1: Screen potential housemates carefully

Trust us on this one: housemates are a make it or break it type situation. If your potential housemates seem dodgy, strange, or just plain difficult to get along with, our advice is to keep your options open – regardless of how much you love the apartment you’re looking at.

#2: Set the ground rules

Once you’ve found the right apartment and housemates, be sure to set some ground rules before moving in. Talk about things such as cooking and cleaning, whether you’ll be buying groceries together or separately, and work out a schedule for sharing the shower in the morning.

#3: Ensure that every housemate has a set of earphones/headphones

This might seem oddly specific, but the vast majority of complaints about housemates revolve around noise levels. To make everyone’s lives easier, make sure that every housemate owns earphones or headphones, and make it clear that anyone streaming music, playing video games or watching a movie should have their headphones on.

#4: Have a shared calendar

You’re not technically required to keep your housemates in the loop… but assuming you’re a decent human being, you should definitely do so. One easy way of doing this is to have a shared calendar – you don’t need to schedule all your events in, but at least let your housemates know when you’re going abroad, and when you’re having your friends stay over.

#5: Accept that shit will happen

It’s almost impossible to live with someone else, and not step on their toes (and vice versa!) once in a while. You aren’t perfect, and your housemate isn’t perfect, so on the occasion that someone does screw up, just take a deep breath, know that these things happen, and move on.

#6: Catch yourself when you’re being unreasonable

There’s a difference in complaining about a housemate being annoying because they don’t pitch in and help with the chores, and complaining about a housemate being annoying because their voice is too high-pitched. General rule of thumb: if it’s about their behaviour, you’re in the clear, but if you’re unhappy over something that they can’t change, you’re probably being unreasonable.

#7: Keep cultural differences in mind

This is a pretty sensitive example, but one worth mentioning: many Singaporeans take issue with the fact that China nationals tend to speak loudly and behave aggressively. Here’s the thing, though – in China, being loud and boisterous (they term it as “热闹”) is actually seen as a positive thing.

Looking at this from the bigger picture, there’s not point in arguing about which country’s standards are correct, or should be adopted. Just understand that your housemates from different countries speak and behave differently because of different societal norms, and try and be more tolerant.

#8: Don’t be defensive

One last tip – we all know the importance of open communication, but when faced with criticism, many of us tend to behave badly. Your first reaction might be to dismiss whatever they’ve just told you (“Who cares?”) or defend yourself (“The dishes have only been in the sink for a few days, it’s not like I left them there for a month”), but remember: this isn’t a personal attack, it’s just feedback on how you can do things better. So man up, reflect on your behaviour, and don’t let it affect your relationship with your housemates.  

If you found this article helpful, recommends 7 rental hidden costs: is that cheap rental unit too good to be true? and 5 condos for rent that will help you reach your housing goal of being more independent.

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