Share house etiquette 101

Flatmates Team

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We don’t want to jinx it, but now that the pandemic is seemingly under control, life appears to be returning to something we all remember. What we ain’t remembering though, is how to act in our share houses. Shame!

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International (and state!) borders are open. On-campus learning is back! Those who headed back to the parental pad to wait out the madness are now returning to share-house life, and many of us are still working at least part of the time from home.

But it’s been two years. You may have forgotten some of the golden rules of share-house living, not to mention the subtler hints that smooth the path to domestic bliss with flatmates. Fear not, lovely flattie! We’re here to refresh your memory with our 5-point guide!

Late arrivals

Whether you’ve just finished a shift, or you’ve been out on the town, coming in late risks waking up the whole house — especially those whose bedrooms are near the door or bathroom (assuming you’ll head there before you crash).

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Our tips for saving your flatties from even knowing you’ve gotten in?

1. Take your key
There’s nothing worse than being aroused from sweet, sweet slumber by noisy banging on the door from the flatmate who’s forgotten or lost their key.
2. Lock that door
It’s all too easy to forget this step when it’s late and you’re tired!
3. Take your shoes off
Wooden porches and bare floors are great for carrying the sound of late-night footsteps. Tread lightly, friend!
4. Don’t cook now
Okay you might be hungry, but unless you can shut off the kitchen from the rest of the house, the noise of your pots and pans (or the beeping of the microwave) are likely to wake your flatmates. If you really have to eat something, aim to simply reheat rather than cook from scratch and keep the noise to an absolute minimum. Or you know, order a late-night souva like a normal person.
5. Keep showers and bathroom-fan use brief
If the sound can be heard from the bedrooms that is.
6. Unwind in peace
Need to unwind with some music or Netflix? Wear headphones to keep the peace.

My kitchen rules

The kitchen is the heart of the home, but that share-house love can turn to loathing pretty fast if you find your flatmate’s eaten the last of whatever ingredient is essential for what you’re cooking right now.

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The exact details of what’s on and what’s not in your share house will depend on your flatmates and what you’ve agreed upon, but as a general rule, people eat what they’ve bought for themselves and it’s a bad idea to nick someone else’s food unless you can replace it immediately!

For more details on what constitutes gold-standard share-house food etiquette, see our guide, 7 Tips for Sharing Food with Flatmates. Also, The Unspoken Rules of Share Homes has extra tips around what’s usually shared, and what’s not.

Big love

Like food, “good etiquette” when it comes to partners, flings and one-night stands depends on your share house.

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This one’s best to talk over with your flatmates, so you all know what’s acceptable in terms of:
- How many nights a week (and which nights!) it’s okay to have your partner to stay
- Whether your flatmates want a heads-up if you’re bringing someone new home
- At what point a partner is expected to put in for food and utilities bills
- If partners, flings and others are welcome at communal meals nights

To help you navigate the specifics of what can be choppy waters, take a look at our guide on dealing with your flatmate’s partner, and at some point you might find this article on what happens when flatmates sleep together, handy too. Who knows?!

The sounds of silence

Different cultures — and different people — have different expectations around noise. We can safely say that in Australia, we try to keep noise to a minimum after about 10pm on weeknights, and until maybe 9-10am on weekends. That neighbour who starts the leafblower at 7am every Saturday is not getting an invite to the annual street party, believe us!

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That said, what’s acceptable does vary depending on the schedules of the flatmates, so this is a good point to talk over with the whole household. Some people are heavy sleepers but others might be awoken by something as fleeting as the late-night flush of the toilet. Some might prefer quiet time from 9pm on the evening before their 5am shift at work; those working night shift are likely to need silence during the day. Best to chat about it so that everyone can be considerate of each other’s needs.

Work it!

Despite employers everywhere stridently inviting staff back to offices, plenty of us are still working from home at least some of the time. If that’s the case in your share house, it’s important to practice good WFH etiquette:

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-Work out where in the home you and/or your housemates will work from.
- If the space is communal, agree on ground rules for attending online meetings (and what housemates can or can’t do while that’s taking place).
- Don’t “borrow” things — pens, staplers, sticky notes — from your flatmate’s work space without asking.
- If you need a break, try not to interrupt your flatmate’s flow. Just because you’re in the mood for some upbeat music or a chat doesn’t mean they are too. <br / - Be attentive to others’ schedules and, where it’s possible, deadlines. Some of us get pretty stressed around due dates or big deliverables at work, and understanding where your flatmate is at (and respecting that) is sure to help smooth the path to working happily from home in your share house.
- Unless everyone’s working from home equally, discuss what extra share (if any) of power and heating or cooling bills those who work from home will take up.

Our best tip for working from home? If two or more of you are doing it, it can be nice to look out for your WFH buddy. Making a cuppa? Offer them one. Baking muffins for morning tea? Share them around! Creating a good workplace culture at home has the added benefit of nurturing your share house culture too!

But that’s not all…

These are the basics of share house etiquette, but the road to share-house bliss is as nuanced as the people you live with. It also comes down to, well, you.

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Here are our 10 tips to being a great housemate, which will help set the ground rules for your own behaviour, and 7 tips for a harmonious share house, which goes a few steps further in making your share house a fantastic place to be. And, since things can and do go wrong, we also have a guide on how to deal with annoying housemates which might come in handy in the coming months, though we hope you won’t need it!

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Flatmates Team

support@flatmates.com.au

@flatmates

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