Flatsharing with strangers

A data company has teamed up with housing campaigners Generation Rent to produce a guide to flatsharing. Titled ‘The Housemates’ Guide to Happiness’, it aims to help people navigate through common flatsharing issues, including guests, pets, cleaning and common items. It says, “A house is not always a home. Do your best to make it feel like one!”.

But the truth is, living with other humans where there’s no vested interest to keep things running smoothly (sharing genetics, a circle of friends or bodily fluid), will always end in passive aggressive Post It notes and regular questioning of the human race and why it blows its nose in the shower without a tissue.

Very few flatmate “contracts” will ever work in the long term – flatsharing with strangers is doomed with or without a signature. As a reluctant flatsharing veteran, I write this after spending the weekend watching a chunk of bacon left in the sink change colours. Pink to brown to grey, in case you were curious.

As well as anyone who lives in London and isn’t a millionaire, students are among those who have to endure living with strangers. A lot of them will currently be making their way to university and unpacking new pots and pans they can’t distinguish between among new faces they can’t distinguish between. 

But unlike flatsharing as an adult, students share a lot in common: age, lifestyles, education level, no pets and general naïve enthusiasm. It’s after university where the problems lurk, when you have to share a home and a toilet with anyone and everyone. Really – I’ve lived with a 50-year-old drug-addicted DJ, an Italian whose hobby was to spit on drinks in Starbucks, and everything in-between.

Renting horror stories are always in the news. The price of rent, demand and supply of properties, necessity of finding somewhere to live and quick turnaround culminates in a property (un)lucky dip that means you could end up living with absolutely anyone. And it’s more than likely that a clean person will end up with a 30-year-old man-child who sleeps with pizza boxes, and introverts with loud, self-declared party animals.