By Zoe Bradbury
I’m 22, and I’ve lived in three different share houses since moving out of home at the age of 18. Living in a share house with some of my best friends has been an experience I’ll never forget – but it’s definitely had its ups and downs.
Here are six things you may not have heard about living in a share-house in your twenties, from my own personal experience.
Sometimes the hardest part about share-house living can be securing a property in the first place.
Real estate agents and landlords are going to be instantly cautious about applicants that in their 20s – for an understandable reason. They’re not naïve, they know you’re probably going to be partying and having friends over. They know there’s a risk of the property getting damaged, and they might be concerned about the lack of income you might have.
When an applying for our first share house, we applied for over 15 houses. We were lucky enough to be offered just one.
Boost up your applications and make yourself look as desirable as possible to a landlord. We included a cover letter introducing ourselves, as well as signed letters from all of our parents saying they would be our rent guarantors if any of us missed any payments.
It’s a little bit of reassurance for the landlord, and something that also has your back – and without that, we wouldn’t have secured a house.
You’ve moved out of home and out of the watchful eyes of parents. What do most people do? They get down and dirty – and as a housemate, you’re going to hear it.
Sharing paper-thin walls with your friends can be fun when you need to tell them something, but when you hear the bed rocking, it can be less than desirable.
But as a housemate, I’ve learnt to just put up with it. Put a movie on, play some music and let them do their business – because when the roles are reversed, you’re not going to want your housemate to kill your vibe by knocking on the door.
Just keep it respectful, especially if it’s late at night. Be mindful there may someone (unintentionally) listening – it doesn’t hurt to pair it back a notch if you know you’re not home alone.
Being a university student, money tends to be tight and the alcohol tends to be free-flowing. The combination can lead to a vicious cycle: you get drunk and you eat crappy, cheap food.
While cheap eats feel great for the hangover, they don’t feel so great on the waistline after a while.
Now in my third year of share house living, I’ve learnt to limit the alcohol to once a week, if that. It’s a big change from drinking three nights a week, but it’s something that has definitely benefited my health.
Frequent break outs are gone, I feel more motivated to get tasks done, and I’ve been able to maintain a good gym routine. Take some time to plan out your meals and develop a healthy routine.
It’s allowed me to be a lot more flexible when it comes to treating myself with a bottle of wine at the end of the week (and maybe some uber eats), as a part of living a balanced, 80-20 lifestyle.
Leading on from the previous point – money tends to have a different value when you’re a university student in a share house. My ex housemate once spent his last $7.00 in his account on KFC drive through.
His words? “This KFC zinger was so worth my last remaining cents.”
You’ll also find the value in cheap food that can be made somewhat healthy. Take eggs, for example. In my first year of share-house living, my roommate and I would have eggs for dinner at least three times a week, not to mention daily breakfasts.
They were quick to make, healthy, and didn’t break the bank. A few variations here and there, avocado if we were feeling rich that week, or mushrooms if we wanted some extra protein.
A few months on this diet though, and we slowly began to be turned off by the smell and even sight of eggs.
The lesson here? Don’t overdo something just because it’s cheap and easy. My relationship with eggs will never be the same again.
And I’m not talking about one-night stands.
When you’re trying to save money on Ubers by walking home after a big night out, you often run into a few things laying on the side of the road.
What is a sober man’s trash, is a drunk man’s treasure.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up in the morning and walk down the hallway, stepping over an orange traffic cone, a broken pram, or a painting of a sunset.
Some of the items, like the orange cones, found their way back to their home of the side of the road.
Other items, such as ones that had clear value, like the broken pram or cracked sunset painting, were promptly stored in the garage, tokens and memories of a great drunken escapade.
It’s not all fun and games living with your best friends. Living with people can drastically change your relationship with them – and it can often be for the worst.
Unfortunately, friendships have come and gone with some of the people I’ve previously lived with. You argue about trivial things, such as cleaning and paying bills, and sometimes people can just get downright annoying.
From constantly nagging them to clean up their dishes after three weeks (yes, even when mould has started to develop), to them not being supportive of your relationship – it can put a strain on your friendship.
You often don’t realise these things about a person until after you live with them, and by then, it may be too late to repair the damage.
My advice? Establish a cleaning routine early on, maybe even initiate a chore chart, and try to not let little things get to you. Additionally, consider the likelihood of your friendship being damaged by living together – and weigh up the pros and cons, if you’re willing to risk it. Your friendships will thank you for it later.
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