Top Tips to Avoid Falling Out With your Housemates

University is often the first chance you get to live away from home, abandoning the family nest to move in with friends or, perhaps, people you’re less than familiar with.

While you’ve grown up and (maybe) become used to rubbing along with family, moving in with people you’re not so close to can be extremely stressful – while they might seem nice when you’re in lectures or down the pub, they can often turn out to be a nightmare to live with.

Everyone has annoying habits, usually without even realising their behaviour is getting on their housemates’ nerves.  From leaving their toenail clippings on the edge of the bath to stockpiling all the mugs under their bed, chances are you’ll encounter one or two housemates who drive you round the bend.  When tensions flare and all-out war looms, how do you diffuse the situation?

Recognise You’re Not Perfect

While their behaviour is frustrating to you, just remember that there could well be something you do which annoys them just as much.  We’ve all grown up to develop habits which seem unusual or irritating to those who aren’t accustomed to them, so always bear in mind that you’re not perfect either and you never fully know how other people see you.

Always Keep Talking

To avoid those rage-filled silences and to keep things civil, never give the annoying housemate the silent treatment.  You need to keep the dialogue going if you’re ever going to get through the rocky patch and reach some sort of agreement – be open and honest about what it is you find unacceptable about their behaviour, but don’t be too heavy-handed.

Getting into petty details or making them feel they’re being picked on will just make things worse for all involved.

Set Clear Rules Early On

There’s no point trying to lay out new rules when you’ve already set up a system.  One of the first things you should do when you move in together is decide on the basics – are tea and coffee communal or do you each buy your own?  How long can ‘guests’ stay at your expense?  Who is responsible for seeing the bins go out each week?

Trying to enforce new rules retrospectively never goes down well, so get a system in place the moment you get the keys to your new pad.

Set Up a Rota

Setting up a rota means nobody has room to wriggle out of the unpleasant household chores.  Nothing builds resentment faster than feeling you’re always the one to clean the bathroom or take the rubbish out, so create a cleaning and supermarket rota and stick to it.

That way nobody feels they’re being unfairly put upon and you’re less likely to fall out over something minor.

Choose Your Battles Carefully

Don’t lie down and simply take their annoying behaviour, but don’t be petty either.  There’s no point starting an argument over little things even if you do think you’d win hands down – nit-picking and snide remarks can make people feel bullied, and when they feel they’re being unfairly picked on they may well fight back more aggressively than anticipated.

To avoid an all-out war with your housemates, only point things out when you really, really cannot handle any more.

At times, house-sharing is enough to test even the most saintly among us.  Try to nip things in the bud before they escalate if you want to get along together.  Set rules and boundaries but try to be patient – remember, you won’t be stuck with them forever, so once the tenancy is up you can move on to find new, hopefully less annoying housemates.


Lizzie Exton writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs, visit our website.