October 23, 2013

6 Lessons I Learned Living with 6 Roommates

Before I came to SFU to study business, I spent 2 years living and working at ski resorts. The housing in ski towns is crazy expensive, so to minimize costs I shared a house with 5 to 7 other roommates (allow variance for couch surfers).  I learned a lot in that time, but I’ve narrowed down 6 pieces of advice I wish I had gotten then.


Joey and Chandler, the original best friend/roommate duo.

Joey and Chandler, the original best friend/roommate duo. (Image: NBC)

You may think that because you already spend so much time with your BFF, moving in together would be practically the same, right?

NOPE. Sure you enjoy spending time with your friends, but living with someone is an entirely different ball game. I think of it like a business relationship: you want someone who’s reliable with rent, trustworthy, and respectful. Living with friends can still be great, but I’ve found that it works best if you prioritize roommates who value the same qualities in a home that you do, such as quietness or cleanliness. It’s better to spend time looking for someone similar to you in these ways than to lose a friend because you can’t stop fighting over chores.


2. Don’t Become the “Mom”

50's housewife

Shut up, Karen. (Image: frenchfriedgeek.wordpress.com)

Who is the “Mom” of the house?

It’s the person who constantly nags everyone about chores, always calls for house meetings, has the responsibility of making sure all bills are paid on time, and someone always owes money to. Just like in group projects, a “Mom” can emerge because they want to control the house, but usually it’s because other housemates aren’t pulling their weight.

Having a “Mom” will create a negative vibe because that person will resent others for being irresponsible, and they will be resented for acting like a mom. This can be avoided by simply ensuring that you’re pulling your weight and encouraging others to do the same. However, if you’re the mom, remember that you can always distribute responsibilities, and realize that not everything must be done your way.


3. Don’t be a Raccoon

Evil raccoon eats everyone's food.

Evil raccoon eats everyone’s food. (Image: imgur.com)

Did you know that food is expensive?

I didn’t realize this until I looked at my first grocery bill. The meaning of “splurging” quickly changed from buying new shoes to buying brand name cereal.

When I do decide to treat myself and buy the Cheerios® instead of President’s Choice Oat-O’s, it kills me to come home to find out the box has been emptied. However, I can’t say that I’ve never been the perpetrator. The anger I felt as a victim and the scorn I received as a culprit solidified the importance of setting ground rules for what is communal and what is not, and respecting other’s belongings.


4. Are You Sure You Want a Party House?

It's not that kind of party.

Not that kind of party. (Image: neonpoisoning.blogspot.ca)

Party houses are fun, exciting and are the catalysts of great stories.

However, if you want a truly awesome party house, consider these questions:

    1. Do you enjoy dealing with angry neighbours?
    2. Do you have the mental strength to plunge a toilet/sink/shower?
    3. Are you comfortable with strangers having sex in/on your bed/bathtub/couch/tables/patio furniture/stuffed animals/washing machine?
    4. Do you love cleaning up beer bottles?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, I would reconsider your options. Think of the consequences before committing to a party house.


5. Communal Whiteboard, or Passive-Agressive Warzone?


The result of leaving an anonymous note. (Image: en.wikipedia.org)

If you think a communal message board is a good idea, I’m here to crush your dreams, because here’s what will really happen:

Jane comes home to find out Jack has left the place a mess, so she angrily writes him a note and goes to bed. Jack wakes up, sees the note, responds with an even angrier note which includes some expletives.

This cycle continues on, as the whiteboard offers anonymity for brash comments and heated arguments. The moral of the story is, never leave a note. If you have a problem, talk it over face to face.


6. Enjoy the Experience!

Making the most of Christmas away from home by sharing Christmas dinner with all of our housemates.

Making the most of Christmas away from home by sharing Christmas dinner with all of our housemates.

Moving out was scary, crazy, and stressful, and paying rent never stops sucking. But, the independence and the fun experiences I gained living with a big group of people was worth it. They became my second family, we share some amazing stories, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Do you have any worries about moving out, or any advice you wish you’d gotten?


Featured Images by: NBC

About the Author

Recultured Team
Recultured Team
This is where you'll find the blog posts that the team has contributed to collectively! What team? Wildcats! -Nope, wrong team. Recultured!

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