So you have survived my first part here goes with the second part1
K for kitchen and kettle
Kitchen – it is a shared space. Stop using it as your personal dumping ground and expecting the cleaner (if applicable) to clean up the mess you made, they’re not paid to be a personal maid/butler or clean up the questionable substances that are appearing on the counter tops or the bags you are incapable of taking out to the bin. Yes it’s annoying to be the same person emptying the bins week after week but trust me when I say its much worse when they are overflowing, especially in summer. Create a rota and enforce it or take out the bins yourself, but it’s a communal space that everyone has to use so show some respect for your fellow flatmates/housemates and be respectful to the space – and if you make a mess clean it up. Mummy might have cleaned up behind you but your flatmates don’t have to, and won’t, do it yourself or pay the cleaner extra 😊#
Kettle – always full of water (or at least never empty) usually looks like it’s about to implode when boiling and probably due replacement if something doesn’t fuse it first. In the true manner of Britain, offer other people cups of tea and coffee while you’re making yours and you’ll be fine. Don’t ask me how to descale one – I have no idea – we blamed it for fusing the kitchen and got a few new ones.
L for living space, laundry, laziness and limits and boundaries
Living space – as all the points thus far have said, you’re all responsible for it, don’t let it become a dumping ground for all the crap that won’t fit in the rooms, by all means use it as a study space but be considerate that other people will want to use the table too, any damage to any of the furnishings report (otherwise kiss goodbye to your deposit), don’t leave it in a mess (especially if a cleaner is coming round), please don’t leave assorted relatives/random friends in the kitchen for someone to discover when they just want a coffee or tea, and if you’ve had a party, don’t leave it to everyone else to clean up the mess – we don’t want to be screamed at by the cleaner and will tidy it but don’t appreciate you going to a club leaving it to someone else to clean when half of us were in our rooms avoiding all your horrible friends (based on true stories).
Laundry – if you don’t want to do your laundry that’s your prerogative, you smelling isn’t my problem. But if you are going to do your laundry, especially in shared laundry rooms (as feature at my student accommodation) can you please please PLEASE (a thousand times) remember to go and get your laundry rather than taking up a dryer/washer for hours on end because you forgot – set a reminder or an alarm – and go collect it. Some of the laundry apps even give you a countdown, use it. Dryers are in precious supply and I don’t want to have to chuck your stuff out of it (never know what you might catch even if it has in theory been washed) but it’s a simple act of respect, please just do it. Otherwise you will find your washing relocated to somewhere else in the laundry room and I won’t be helping you find it. And if by some miraculous turn of events you end up with an unidentified persons’ (likely expensive designer) underwear, do us all a favour and put it in the bin rather than leaving it on the flat windowsill (true story).
Laziness – don’t be. Its okie to have a bad day where you can’t face something but if your laziness starts affecting everyone else that’s a problem – be considerate, a lot of the time in shared living we don’t choose who we live with and we didn’t sign up to be your personal cleaner
Limits and boundaries – don’t push them. Easy. Respect peoples’ boundaries, apologise when you hurt people, and in general don’t be an ass. No one wants to live with someone who is incapable of respecting boundaries and makes everyone feel bad, if you are the reason for someone crying, its time to evaluate your behaviour – especially if you are the cause of MULTIPLE people crying in the same time frame
M for mornings, shared milk and mould
Mornings – there is of course the debate to if these actually exist in shared living, I can confirm they do and they are probably the best time of day to do anything unbothered by any irritant you live with. But if you need a hundred and one alarms to actually get up, don’t set one. The rest of us don’t wish to be woken up by it (more on this later). In my experience mornings in shared living are the quietest time on the weekends (or between 2 – 7am on weekdays) and pretty chill on weekdays as most people with morning classes leave half an hour or more before (our campus was pretty big). Basically, don’t be a douche on mornings, leave people to it, and if they’re hungover expect to see them about 5pm in the afternoon and if you did go to your class/job and are asked why, remind them that money makes the world go round and you need your education/job.
Shared milk (and other supplies) – ‘but I don’t like Lidl (other supermarkets are available) own brand washing up liquid or semi skimmed milk’ buy your own then. Shared supplies can help keep a kitchen clean and save a lot of hassle, but they only really work if everyone pays their fair share, and funnily enough they often don’t. if they don’t I'm all in favour of leaving the gone off milk for them to discover so they actually go and buy the new milk that they haven’t paid for since the start of the year. Also, washing up liquid is one of those things where a little goes a long way (not to be confused with other liquids), so please stop using half the bottle on two items and forcing someone else to go buy a new one because you claim going into Lidl will ruin your reputation. Waitrose is an option if you want your Fairy liquid. Oh and when you aren’t sharing ketchup/mayo/etc. PUT YOUR DAMN NAME ON IT the number of mayo and ketchup that no one knew it belonged to in the fridges were ridiculous. I don’t care if its like being back in reception, if someone asks if that mayo is mine once more I will start dolling out to people and putting name stickers on it – and no it isn’t mine and yes I'm sure because I haven’t bought mayo or ketchup all year and if it was mine by some miracle it would be on my shelf.
Mould – this particular section will discuss the mould of my flatmate’s cupboard so if you are of a weak disposition/constitution I suggest you skip this section – I wish I could have skipped this experience. First of all, clippets are a thing, please bring them with you to put on food and check dates on food regularly – and that goes for food cupboard and fridge – if it is out of date (specifically meat) please do not cook it, I am beyond fed up of seeing dark brown mince with black blood leaking onto the fridge shelf (sadly not the bottom shelf either) and it being over a week out of date. If you won’t eat it or use it, don’t buy it or bin it – or where possible donate it. As for the mould story, my flatmate’s food cupboard went mouldy numerous times over the year, over 8 items of SEPARATE food went mouldy and a smell of mould would float through the kitchen whenever his cupboard was open, not to mention the gone off meat, mouldy and fuzzy peppers and kiwi and the pot of pesto that was open since September and only thrown out in February after going furry. Please just be conscious of other people’s health in regard to fridge shelves, and keep an eye on your food, and for the love of all that is good on this earth, if its mouldy or gone off get rid and clean. The flatmate in question never cleaned his cupboard and left a stench of mould and dried flour and rice all over the cupboard stuck to the bottom shelf for our accommodation provider to discover. Just be considerate. And know your food safety lessons and if you don’t, ask Google, Alexa or Siri (other models of annoying voice assistants are available), parents are also an option where applicable.
N for noise (and complaints) and some of the author’s most hated shared living moments
Noise – other peoples’ alarms, other peoples’ moans, other peoples’ angry screams. I’ve heard all of it and I’d like to give a special mention to the people in the room above and below mine, below my room his alarm woke up all the surrounding rooms – including me and my flatmate. The girl above me her creaking bed, angry screams at her flatmates and moans went on long into the early hours of the morning. You get pretty used to other peoples’ noise but when you are hearing it all for the first time it feels like everyone is talking through megaphones – my advice is simple, buy some quality earphones/headphones, make your own noise in return and if it gets too bad (like the girl above my flatmate’s smart assistant alarm) message the group chat and ask whoever it is to remember they don’t live in a field or on a different planet and you can in fact hear them, passive aggressive requests do work unless the person is an obnoxious douche in which case revenge via your own noise works well.
Most hated shared living moments – ah so many to choose from but the ones that top the bill are my room stinking of a certain scent when I came back from a morning in the city (we lived in a small town about 20min public transport network away) and the smell wouldn’t clear for over 4hrs of having my window fully open. Being woken up by someone banging down the door in the middle of the night is also up there, long after our entire flat had gone to bed (which was a luxury as everyone operated on different time zones to all extent and purpose) and no one appreciated what sounded like a break in attempt
O for oh not again
Oh not again – this relates to pretty much all aspects of shared living, from the noise levels to the fused kitchen and mess of the bottle bag. All of it is relevant and if a polite quiet word doesn’t work then a loud shouted one is the next best thing!
P for pests (human and animal varieties), prejudice, and parties
Pests – I was particularly delighted this year to not be on the ground floor for one main reason, it would have been a lot harder for rats to nibble on all the dropped food on the floor, we didn’t have to call pest control (though there was a temptation to call it on flatmates), and this should give you enough of a warning to know that we had issues of cleanliness, lovely. As for the human pests, you unfortunately cannot shoo them from the flat/house, so I suggest reminders that they live with other people!
Prejudice – this is one I could talk about all day and then some, but the upshot is we all have prejudices but shared living is not the place to voice them. After hearing homophobic comments, sexists comments, ableist comments and not to mention racist comments and fetishization I'm more than confident to say that prejudice is alive and well and shared living is a pressure cooker for everyone’s worst opinions. I am going to parrot the words my Mum taught me as a child – if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all – and that is in regard to everything above and every other prejudice that can directly impact whoever you are living with. This comes back to my jokes section, prejudice isn’t funny and while it is easier to ignore it – especially if you’re used to hearing it – but the only one being shown up is the prejudiced one, ignorance isn’t an excuse for prejudice jokes that can severely hurt other people. Be kind, be understanding and once again apologise when you go too far.
Parties – whoever throws the party, you are most responsible for cleaning it up, whether you live in the building or not. Clean up and don’t leave it to everyone else, once again no one is there to be a personal cleaner, and doing the bare minimum isn’t worthy of a reward. Clean up your mess, and respect that some people will want to go to bed rather than socialise.
Q for questions and questioning my sanity (and why I ever decided shared living was a good idea)
Questions – genuine questions are great, we are able to learn from each other and talk about more serious topics or just help each other out, even if that question is how does this hob work? Oh I didn’t turn it on? Whoops. Or the iron needs water? Oh ok, I’ll try again. Questions can be great but as this adjoining section shows, not all questions are good…
Questioning my sanity – I questioned my sanity throughout the year, shared living is a pressure cooker for emotions and can bring out the inner demon of everyone, but when questions get offensive we have a problem. To give an example I'm mixed race, I don’t look British (or sound it apparently) despite the fact I was born here, shared living has turned my ethnicity into a guessing game and left my friends being asked where they are ‘from from’ which is OFFENSIVE and ignorant and not the correct way to phrase this question. You can ask someone’s ethnicity without implying that they don’t belong in the country they are in, and no I'm not happy to be your first mixed race friend so you can get it all wrong with me and respect other mixed-race people, I'm human too and I'm worthy of respect. And no, I won’t be running a module on how to be politically correct because your education of ethnic minorities is from media representation and you chose to skip out on the diversity talk offered
R for rice cookers and really ???
Rice cookers – remember that oh so fun story earlier about a faulty appliance that fused our kitchen multiple times per semester? Yep it was a rice cooker, now why did I give this a special mention? Because it pertains to half of what I’ve already said. Clean your appliances, do your washing up, especially on the rice pan of the rice cooker and the space below it (the one in my kitchen was meant to be white but was actually brown), and if it fuses don’t bring it. We had to call up a maintenance person every month or so in the end and lied about what had set off the fuse and left our kitchen unusable (as most devices were turned on all the time) – we got several new kettles and toasters that passed the PAT test because people told the maintenance guy the rice cooker was fine (it would have easily failed a PAT test).
Really ??? – do you really not know how to empty a lint filter when there is literally a step by step guide right next to the dryer to help? Oh of course you don’t, let me just do that for you like how the rest of us have just cleaned up after you, washed up your stuff and helped you organise your week because you don’t understand time management. No. stop being a brat and learn how to be a responsible adult.
S for substances, sinks, smells and yes size does matter (again probably not in the way you are thinking of)
Substances – the illegal and messy variety. From the unidentifiable stain on the counter top, to the white power on the floor to the hundredth and one vape that is floating around the kitchen, to the green stuff on the table and the half rolled roll your own cigarettes on the side, I’ve seen almost all of it in 9 months. No I don’t like it, I don’t smoke and I most certainly don’t do drugs especially not class A or B, does that mean I stop other people, no. If you’ve decided you are going to do it nothing I say is going to change that, but clean up after yourself. The cleaner or anyone else shouldn’t have to clean up the powder that got everywhere and I'm not touching it, and if someone from maintenance calls I will be the first to declare it isn’t mine, your body your choice but I'm not coming with you to A&E when you took a dose too strong and leapt from the sofa and headbutted the table claiming you could fly nor will I be tucking you into bed because you want Mummy and your ex and all the rest of it (true story).
Sinks – don’t put food down them or oil unless you are volunteering to unblock it. Thanks.
Smells – cooking smells are expected and normal what isn’t expected is to have my room stinking of a certain drug that I can’t clear nor did I ask for my room to smell of this. You live with other people, be considerate for the smells that you are creating in the block especially ones that can float through those fire doors and insert themselves into someone else’s room and not clear. Yeah not pleasant. Be responsible. Also if you are going to be create smells (regardless of your neighbours), please don’t cover it with Febreze – it makes it smell worse, and does nothing to hide what you’ve been doing while everyone was either out of the building or in their rooms and not babysitting you (because guess what our rent doesn’t get paid back to us for looking after our flatmates/housemates – shocking right)!
Size does matter – if you were thinking I was about to divulge some of the stories about my flatmate’s sexual performance you would be wrong (no one should have to hear those stories), but the size of the items you bring to shared living do matter. My flatmate (the very same mouldy cupboard and fridge shelf) bought with him a HUGE wok that took up the entire hob space and almost all 5 rings. Yes all 5. Just be considerate that you aren’t the only one living there and if your items are oversized like the wok in question then wait till no one needs the hob – it isn’t reasonable to expect five people to wait because you have a huge saucepan/wok/etc. oh and for the record, I don’t care to know about my flatmate’s sexual performance – though I have been told by numerous sizes. There is no such thing as secrets in shared living.
T for toilets, and takeaways
Toilets – this one goes out for my poor friends living in shared bathroom situations, I had an ensuite during my first year at uni but my friends in catered halls have shared with me their horror stories from shared bathrooms and from my NCS experience in shared bathroom halls there is a lovely little etiquette that everyone should maintain. First of all, leave the bathroom how you would want to find it, it’s not a plane bathroom so really the floor shouldn’t be wet. And when you use the toilet, hit the flush after. My friend from catered halls told me a story about her going to the bathroom to find the person before had left a little present in the bowl of the toilet and not flushed! Grim. She proceeded to educate said person (after banging on all the doors surrounding the toilet) on how to use the flush. Just be decent. It’s a shared bathroom, not your own private one, and other people have to use it, show some respect. And remember the mile high club doesn’t exist on the ground.
Takeaways – lovely that you can afford them on a weekly basis (on top of that weekly grocery shop ordered and paid for by Mum) but what’s not so lovely is the inability to put the delivery bags and boxes in the bin. While I understand that a lot of people have clearly had a cleaner following them around from a young age, said cleaner in shared living (if applicable) isn’t paid to clean up after every individual member of the flat. I suggest that rubbish finds it way to a bin or we can relocate your mattress into one of the huge bins outdoors and you can spend a night surrounded by trash that people are actually capable of throwing out to teach a lesson. Up to you but I know which one is easier as mattresses do tend to weigh a lot.
U for understanding and paying back people you share Ubers with
Understanding – you don’t have to instantly understand why a flatmate/housemate is upset, but being considerate and attempting to understand goes a long way towards making the whole shared living experience that much easier and more pleasant and if you can’t understand – fine – then don’t be that one person who just has to say ‘you’re being childish’ funnily enough that isn’t going to make it any better and just shows you up as one heck of a insensitive douchebag – there’s already a growing list of these and if you want we can pencil your name in at the bottom too – we can even host douchebag of the year award and offer a plastic trophy if you’re horrid enough 😊 all expense spared for the people who give no concern for anyone else.
Ubers – (pertaining more to student accommodation or if you really like your flatmates/housemates) I'm not sure where people started thinking they didn’t have to pay people back for a shared Uber but apparently people don’t think they have to. So, here’s your reminder you do. Don’t be a douche, pay when they ask, pay for your share (and cover someone else if they aren’t able to pay at the time), and if you don’t like splitting taxi costs (which at 5am when you are cold and tired and makes it a lot cheaper) you can get the bus home, its one every hour and half the time its too packed to fit you because a load of other people who hate splitting taxi bills will be there, but the choice is yours.
V for visitors, vacations and vacuum cleaners
Visitors – it’s so nice to know that people have friends but if you know your friend is particularly problematic, then
A. warn the people you live with and
B. this ‘friend’ better be on their best behaviour otherwise someone will more than happily take them down a peg or ten.
And if your friend happens to have wandering eyes, don’t make me suggest I can help relocate the eyes, no one likes a perv. There are sites for people who have wandering eyes and a partner and no I am not on one of those sites. On the reverse, treat visitors well and it’ll make their stay (however long they stay past their welcome) slightly easier than it may otherwise have been but similarly if they’re a pain then hey, might as well make it known to whoever in the building is actually friends with them for some strange reason.
Vacations – clean up before you go on them, don’t leave all your stuff in the drying rack when you know you won’t be there, throw out all your food that will go off while you are away and don’t bother to give me the hourly updates on which overpriced restaurant you are going to in Italy or that the yacht you hired in Monaco off daddy isn’t big enough. I will be enjoying five minutes without the whining, no need to update me. if you need me while I'm away, no you don’t, I’ll get back you to in 50 or so working business days and if its an emergency, call someone else, happy vacay!
Vacuum cleaners – another one for please learn how to use basic cleaning equipment and not leave communal spaces in a mess. If you want to live in a mess that is your call but the vacuum cleaners don’t have a fee to use or a pay per minute of usage charge, and they even plug into the wall! Amazing! So please use them. I’ve vacuumed and mopped the flat kitchen, is it a lovely job? No not really, but if the cleaner isn’t coming for a few days (or a few weeks) then it’s the least you can do to keep the space clean and stop pests getting in (the human and animal variety)
W for washing up and working schedules
Washing up – leave those dishes on the side unwashed for more than two weeks and I will be putting them in the bin (I’ve seen people do it on tiktok and I will do it too), I cannot even begin to explain how grim it is when a week old plates and bowls are left out with food stuck to the sides, even twelve hours is grim when its dried egg and no hot water to stop it sticking. If you can’t do your washing up that moment or want to eat or whatever, fine, but do it within the same day, no one wants to come into the kitchen at 7am before a lecture to see last week’s dinner still sat in the unwashed bowls on the counter. I would have thought this was common sense but from my experience it isn’t, I will sit up with you if you need company just so the washing up is done and I can risk entering the kitchen in the morning without feeling sick. Also washing up liquid goes a long way and there are water shortages so stop leaving the tap running when you are scrubbing the week old stain that wouldn’t be there if you’d done your washing up after you’d eaten/come back from class or your work.
Work schedules – everyone works different schedules for when they study e.g. some people study all the time and some people never pick up their laptop to do any actual work, fine. But don’t be that one person that disturbs people who are trying to work or question why they are doing work. If anything, I found sitting in the library was often the best way to ensure I actually got work done, undisturbed and without the screams from others demanding attention. Shared living often resembles a nursery more than a place for young professionals or students. And no, I'm not kidding. But if your fellow shared living peers are acting too annoying or bratty maybe buy them a dummy of some sort to keep them occupied and out of your hair, and if that doesn’t work, I'm sure when their parents visit they’ll tell you what a good job you are doing living with their child and how impressive it is that their child hasn’t wound up having something thrown at them. If only the parents knew…
X for author funny moments (as I couldn’t think of anything relevant under x)
Author funny moments – this one was hard to come up with, a lot of the humour from my stories of shared living come from the stupid antics as opposed to the genuinely funny, but one thing that amused all of us in shared living was the quotes bank we had. A list of weird and wonderful quotes from members of the flat that had happened at one point or another ranging from comments on height, what age was right for a sugar daddy/mommy/parent and how long it took to cook a chilli that the recipe said was supposed to take maximum two hours and took closer to four!
Y for why are we still discussing this?
Why are we still discussing this – if this is something dumb that we’ve been talking about for more than 10 minutes – probably to do with someone’s inability to use common sense, take it up with them, I have a date night with my bed and I just cannot miss it again. Oh and I have notes to take too. But mainly date night with my bed, toodles!
Z for zzzzzzzzz sleepy bed time
Zzzzzzz sleepy bed time – this brings me nicely to the end of the a-z and no, if I'm sleeping I don’t wish to be disturbed unless someone needs serious help e.g. medical attention, not if you’ve broken a nail or lost your bottle opener or the grinder you used last week that is broken but works enough to be used has grown legs and walked out of the building. I want to be asleep before 2am on a week night and I don’t want to be woken up by your drunken antics, your visitor who is getting very friendly with you or your phone playing music on full blast while you practice your fashion show strut down the corridor. Call me picky but I like undisturbed sleep. I may not look good in prison overalls but I'm sure I can think of a way to make sure you won’t disturb my sleep again. Yes, some people will sleep at 10pm and some won’t sleep till 5am – each to their own – but don’t be a douche and be so noisy that anyone hoping to sleep, is unable to. Also don’t text me as part of your drinking game, no I don’t want to come out and spend 7 minutes in the kitchen cupboard with you. Goodnight.
So there you have it, how not to be a totally awful flatmate, and if you get it wrong after this, I won’t be refunding your time for reading. Some flatmates are lovely human beings with common sense, self awareness and general standards of cleanliness, they’re heaven sent and make tolerating the less pleasant ones easier. But just in case you don’t get a house/flat of lovely people, this guide will be here to help. Good luck, and I sincerely hope from the bottom of my heart, you aren’t the awful flatmate I find myself living with this year, so like all the privately educated students I’ve come across say in their expensive southern accents, bye for now.
I am a specialist property virtual assistant, looking after HMOs, single lets and multi lets.