For some people, sharing a house or apartment is simply a way to save money. For others, it's a way of life. In any event, it isn't always easy to find the right place. Why not take the initiative yourself? We have some tips to help you make sharing work.
First of all, you need to make sure that it's right for you. Not everyone is the sharing type. Some people are very sociable but prefer to live alone, perhaps because they need peace and quiet, don't want to be under pressure to fit in all the time or really need their independence. If none of those applies to you, there are plenty of arguments in favor of sharing.
The biggest advantage of starting your own shared home is the freedom to choose. Should it be all male, all female or mixed? What age range do you want? Are there any no-gos? You could find potential housemates among your friends, through social media, at colleges or on special online platforms. You can trust your instincts when it comes to deciding who to move in with, but you should also find out more about them first.
If you're going to share a home, it makes sense to choose people who share your goals and expectations as well. Is it all about saving money or more a case of "best friends forever"? Do you prefer classic and cozy or modern and minimalist? Are you looking for a temporary arrangement or a base for several years? Should it be spontaneous and straightforward or organized and orderly? If you can agree on these things, you're more likely to get along.
People who live together should like each other and enjoy spending time in each other's company – or at least be able to occupy the same space without falling out. Similar hobbies, interests or political views aren't absolutely essential, but they can create common ground. That said, it isn't always safe to assume that someone you like working with will also be someone you like living with.
Habits are an important factor. What if Céline likes to sleep in, but Yan practices the violin early in the morning? What if Mila smokes a pack of cigarettes day, but Loris can't stand the smell? There's sure to be tension. Parties, eating habits, hygiene, pets, and all manner of annoying foibles can lead to arguments. It helps to be completely open, avoiding conflict or recognizing when two people just aren't compatible.
If you have an attractive apartment with the right number of rooms and affordable rent in a nice neighborhood, that's a good start, but you'll need more to make sharing work.
Before you sign the rental agreement, check that the landlord is happy for the property to be shared. If you want to act as the main tenant and sublet individual rooms, note that you'll be liable for the other residents, although you will be able to evict them if necessary. In most shared homes, all residents act as main tenants and thus have the same rights and obligations.
Tips on setting up a shared house or apartment:
Insurance is a matter of personal preference, so it's best if everyone does their own thing here, but with one exception: you should ideally take out personal liability and household contents insurance for the entire household. It covers everyone mentioned by name in the policy. That way, you can all pay a share of the premium and save a lot of money. Just remember to let your insurer know when housemates leave and new ones join.
Premium or cut-price? Organic or not? Money is always a difficult topic, and shared homes are no exception. The more people's approaches to dealing with their finances differ, the harder it is to agree on a shared budget. Here are the most important questions you need to ask:
Once the basics are agreed, you can work out the details for each budget item.
Fixed costs: rent, heating and other standing charges, household insurance, TV license, Internet/TV, streaming subscriptions
Variable costs: electricity, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, consumables like sandwich bags and toilet paper, garbage bags, groceries, drinks, etc.
Fixed costs are easy to split, whereas variable costs are best paid from a shared kitty. Housemates would actually have a shared wallet in times gone by, but these days it's usually a joint account. It sometimes takes a while to find out how much money you actually need to run the household. Of course, it also depends on who does the shopping...
A home is more than just a room in a shared apartment, it's somewhere you feel settled. That why the success of a shared household hinges on the people living in it: what makes them tick, how they communicate and organize themselves.
Having company at home can be great – as long as you also have privacy. Different people have different needs in this respect. Some need lots of "me time," while others prefer to be in a group all the time. The best thing you can do is get to know each other and respect each other's boundaries. Here are some things that can help: Knock before entering. Close the door when you want to be left alone. Draw up a bathroom schedule. Keep a shared calendar. Go outside and take a walk when you want to make a phone call. There are many more you can try. Living together demands creativity!
Where do you draw the line between "lived in" and just plain messy? How clean is clean enough? These are tricky questions in any shared home because opinions differ. Follow these three golden rules to reach a consensus:
Last but not least, the most important topic of all, the one that determines whether housemates really live happily ever after together or end up falling out and going their separate ways. Here are some tips for ensuring good, clear communication:
Not all differences of opinion can be resolved rationally. Every shared home has its own challenges. How they're dealt with depends on the individual housemates' social skills. The more open, respectful, and willing to compromise they are, the easier it will be. But nobody's perfect, and that's OK. Sharing a home can still be rewarding, even if there's some tension. Conflict can be seen as an opportunity for personal growth. If you take this positive attitude, you might well look back on your sharing days in years to come and think, "I had the time of my life."